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Scenic Foliage Trips in New Mexico

There are mountains in New Mexico that have incredible opportunities to view the Fall Foliage. September and October are the best viewing times for Fall foliage in all these locations.

The Sangre De Cristo Mountains just outside of Santa Fe offers some spectacular opportunities to see the many shades of orange, yellow, gold, and rust in the Aspens there on the way up to the Santa Fe Ski area. There are some spots off the road to park and even some specific rest areas in the vicinity of these beautiful trees. The Ski Santa Fe Area has their ski lifts open for you to take to the top and back down or just one way and hike down. Either way it is an enjoyable way to view the foliage and enjoy the crisp Fall air.

From downtown you take Bishop’s Lodge Road up to Artist Rd where you turn right. That takes you all the way up. It is only about 30 minutes from town to the top.

The other is the Jemez Mountains outside of Los Alamos (north of Santa Fe) You may begin this historical journey along Rt. 4 near Los Alamos, at the loop's southern tip in San Ysidro, or at the loop's northern tip in Cuba. Plan on at least 3 hours to drive this route which is a complete loop 132 miles in length., If you wish to take in the scenic beauty at various Indian ruins, Battleship Rock, Soda Dam, and Jemez monument just to name a few you will have to give yourself more time.

Bugling elk, frisky trout and fabulous fall foliage beckon visitors to Northern New Mexico this month as the traditional tourist season winds down and peace and quiet reigns in the Land of Enchantment.

"If you're looking for a place to take a hike and enjoy beautiful views, Northern New Mexico parks are outstanding this time of year," said Bob Dye superintendent at Sugarite Canyon State Park near Raton. "The weather's getting cooler, the fall colors should be coming on soon, and it's a great time to see the wildlife getting ready for the winter months."

Opportunities for fishing, birding, hiking and wildlife viewing are a bountiful fall harvest, whether your destination is Navajo, Heron and El Vado Lake state parks in the northwest or Sugarite Canyon, Coyote Creek, Morphy Lake and Cimarron Canyon state parks in the northeast

New Mexico State Parks

Another opportunity to view the fall foliage is by canoe on the Rio Chama

Known World Guides can outfit canoe and custom hiking trips in the Rio Chama Wilderness. River travel is a perfect way to explore this wonderful wilderness area. As you travel downstream you can stop and layover a day and hike in some spectacular areas that some trips don't get to see because of time limitations. Fall trips are a perfect time for canoe trips, lower waters and seasonal foliage changes along with cooler temperatures and fewer other users make this one of the best times to visit the canyon. This type of trip is perfect for photographers and other artisans

For a more lengthly trip with lodging and other treats in between try this out: Daytime trips into the Pecos wilderness, along the Rio Chiquito river and into the Carson National Forest with its Georgia O'Keeffe vistas, are punctuated by evening dinners in Taos and Santa Fe and bed-and-breakfast lodging. Hiking, whitewater rafting, horseback riding and mountain biking are the means of travel.

Information: 800-488-8483 or

Albuquerque has the mountains just south east of town. Sandia Peak has a tram ride that is very enjoyable. This time of year would be an excellent time to take that tram ride up to the fall foliage and beautiful vistas. There are two restaurants to enjoy the sunsets or day views as well.

The Enchanted Loop outside of Taos is another trip to take in the colors, stop for some meals and see the cute mountain towns of Red River, Eagles Nest and Angel Fire. It is an 89 mile loop.

And last but not least is the train ride thru the colors. Imagine riding in a coal-fired steam powered engine thru the crisp air and fall colors. This is the same track that cowboys, settlers and miners took more than a century ago. This is the Durango Silverton Railroad that goes between Silverton New Mexico and Durango Colorado.

Fall foliage tours at their best all over New Mexico. Whether you go by rail, tram, car canoe, hike or bike it is all a breathtaking experience. Don’t forget to bring your camera!

Eileen Richardson

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