Every season brings change. Fall is especially embraced in New Mexico after triple-digit temperatures and hot sand-filled winds overstay their welcome. One of the more eye-catching aspects of autumn is the color shift in foliage.
Watching the leaves change is a pastime in New York and New England, but you don’t have to live in the Northeast to witness the shift in season. There’s no need to be a metropolis-dweller in search of an escape from the bustle of the big city. New Mexicans can view the transition without leaving the state.
Locals can take short trips to Carson, Cibola, Gila, Lincoln and Santa Fe national forests to watch the foliage shift from green to gold and orange. The most common trees found in New Mexico are pine, fir, spruce, aspen and juniper. Oak and maple trees can also be found, mostly in the Carson and Santa Fe forests, and don’t forget about those wonderful cottonwoods scattered through our major cities.
According to the United States Forest Service, fall colors typically begin to emerge at higher elevations in mid- to late-September and the color change at lower elevations happens mid- to late-October, and can possibly continue into early-November.
As a whole, peak viewing in New Mexico is early- to mid-October, but due to the quick pace of the shift, some transitions could only last a week. Here’s a look at the best times and scenic drives to catch the leaves changing to fall colors in New Mexico.