Best time to travel to New Mexico

New Mexico Fall Colors

Go on a golden aspen pilgrimage throughout New Mexico

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Last updated: by Olha Savych
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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 does fall start in New Mexico

Mid- or late September

When do the leaves change in New Mexico

From mid-September on, peaking in October, and lingering into early November

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