Best time to travel to New Mexico

New Mexico Fall Colors

Go on a golden aspen pilgrimage throughout New Mexico

Best time: October

New Mexico Fall Colors
New Mexico Fall Colors
New Mexico Fall Colors
New Mexico Fall Colors
Fall colors along the mountains near Chama

With the onset of the fall season, countless aspens in New Mexico explode with shades of gold and crimson. The leaves start changing colors around mid- or late September, the fall foliage peak by mid-October and continues into early November.

Best time for fall colors in New Mexico

The most popular season for higher elevations is early to mid-October, and mid-to-late October for the lower elevations. Hence October wins as the best time to go leaf-peeping in New Mexico.

Best fall colors in New Mexico

Locals often choose northern New Mexico for some of the most breathtaking aspen vistas. The Carson National Forest claims to be the state's top place for fall foliage viewing. Most of all, the woods are praised for a scenic 80 mi (130 km) Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, that sits in the town of Taos. If you're into a more active getaway, check out the jaw-dropping vistas of the Rio Ojo Caliente hiking area in the southern part of the national forest.

Taos fall foliage

Taos must be the epicenter of fall colors in northern New Mexico. You can start soaking in fall sceneries along the Enchanted Circle that features Wheeler Peak, the highest mountain in the Land of Enchantment. Also, slow down by Red River Resort to take in its spectacular fall foliage. Besides, Taos is a gateway to another scenic route—Highway 64. Follow the route through to Chama in the Rocky Mountains. The middle section between Tres Piedras and Tierra Amarilla promises to be the most beautiful part of the road.

Fall foliage train trips by Cumbres & Toltec Railroad

As you reach the village of Chama, take the opportunity to jump aboard the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad. The railroad winds along the border between Colorado and New Mexico and connects Chama, NM, and Antonito, CO. However, fall trips between late September and late October are usually shorter—you'll ride half the way to historic Osier, CO, and back to Chama. Anyways, leaf peepers will highly appreciate a day trip across the mountains.

Santa Fe fall colors

Another area famed for autumn brilliance is Santa Fe National Forest near New Mexico's capital. In particular, visit the alpine wilderness between Ski Santa Fe and Hyde Memorial State Park. The hillsides dotted with tall aspens burst into fiery gold and take on a dainty aura when angled sunshine filters through the quaking leaves.

Albuquerque fall colors

At last, check out the fall foliage around New Mexico's largest city of Albuquerque. Go to such picturesque spots as Tingley Beach Park or the Alameda Wetlands Preserve in the North Valley of Albuquerque. And feel free to explore the neighboring Cibola National Forest and maybe stay at Turquoise Trail Campground. As a bonus, you can hit Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway (NM 14) meandering between Albuquerque and Santa Fe for super glorious fall colors.

Fall foliage map New Mexico

Check out the map of the best fall foliage areas in New Mexico. You might want to book a night or two at one of the hotels in the vicinity. Plan your getaway in advance to get the best deals.

Practical info

When do the fall foliage season start in New Mexico and when is the best time to go there to see it?

Usually, the fall foliage season begins mid-to-late September in New Mexico, with the peak season occurring towards mid-to-late October, varying based on altitude. October is generally the ideal month to visit New Mexico to admire the autumn colors. If you want to experience peak beauty, it is best to plan your trip during the third or fourth week of October, though this timeline does fluctuate based on the area you'd like to explore. Show more

Which parts of New Mexico are the best to visit for fall foliage?

If your aim is to witness the best of New Mexico's fall colors, plan to travel northward. Carson National Forest, located in the northern side of New Mexico, is an excellent place for leaf-peeping. Tourists and locals can embark on scenic drives along the Enchanted Circle from Taos and visit other destinations, including Santa Fe National Forest, Rio Ojo Caliente hiking area, and Cibola National Forest, as each offers unique fall foliage scenes. Show more

What spots in northern New Mexico are the perfect places for fall colors?

Taos, Santa Fe National Forest, and the Rio Ojo Caliente hiking area are the perfect places to savor the beauty of northern New Mexico's fall colors. Based on your preferences, you can visit Taos mountains, the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, and the Santa Fe National Forest's extensive viewing spots, including Hyde Memorial State Park. The beautiful Rio Ojo Caliente hiking area is an excellent destination where you can take widescreen photographs of the vibrant, colorful environment. Show more

Is there any train travel to see the fall colors in New Mexico and what's the experience like?

A train ride with Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is the best approach to discover fall foliage and enjoy the perfect scenic view in New Mexico. The railway runs between Chama, NM, and Antonito, CO, along the New Mexico-Colorado boundary. In autumn, you can savor the colorful views of aspens which stretch ahead for miles, providing a breathtaking vista of colors. Make sure to take amazing photographs of the landscapes and enjoy an enriching and unforgettable memory that is sure to be unique. Show more

Are there any places to witness fall foliage in Albuquerque?

Yes, Albuquerque is also abundant with locations that provide an array of beautiful fall foliage views. The Tingley Beach Park and Alameda Wetlands Preserve located in North Valley offer picturesque landscapes that come alive in the fall season. In case you want to extend your stay, head to the Turquoise Trail Campground in the Cibola National Forest. You can also tour the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway, taking you from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, where stunning autumn views await. Ensure your visit coincides with the peak season for fascinating foliage looks. Show more

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Last updated: by Olha Savych