New Mexico climate
The rainy season is July through early September. Santa Fe and Taos, at 2,133 metres (7,000 feet), have midsummer highs in the low 30s (Celsius). Albuquerque, at 1,615 metres (5,300 feet), is about ten degrees warmer. Summers in the plains and deserts usually exceed 37 degrees. Winter days in Santa Fe and Taos can be in the 10s, and some snow falls but melts quickly. The lower Rio Grande Valley gets under five cm (two inches) of snow; the ski resorts receive up to seven metres (300 inches). Spring and autumn are mild.
When to fly to New Mexico
Summer is the high season for flights to New Mexico. The Santa Fe cultural season and Indian and Spanish markets are in full swing July and August. The Taos Pueblo Powwow is also in July and the Taos Arts Festival in September. The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is in October. Most Native American ceremonial dances that are open to the public are held in summer, early autumn, Christmas, and Easter. Thanksgiving through March, skiers flock to the mountains.
Spring is a mild, but windy, time to visit. October has the best weather and changing colours of mountain foliage. Late autumn and winter are mild and cool in the desert regions. Winter, away from the mountains, is a good time for bird watching.
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Getting around New Mexico
Regional airlines have scheduled domestic flights to New Mexico. There is limited bus service, and trains traverse the state in the north and southwest. The best way to get around New Mexico is with a car.
Before setting out, make sure the vehicle is in good condition. If it breaks down in a remote area, you can be stranded for quite a while. July through early September is the rainy season, and warnings about flash floods in arroyos are serious —vehicles can be washed away.
Indian reservations and pueblos have their own customs and laws, including driving laws. Check with the visitor centres for full details.
Driving around Albuquerque is not difficult except for the local drivers. Pay attention as they tend to spontaneously turn and rush through yellow lights. Parking is very difficult around the University of New Mexico. Buses service the metropolitan area and taxis are available.
The Santa Fe and Taos Plazas are easily explored on foot, and both have bus routes to the outer reaches. Santa Fe cabs are not metered (they charge a flat fee based on distance), and Taos has limited taxi service. During peak seasons, parking in both cities is hard to come by.
New Mexico insider information
- Pay a trip to the Earthship World Headquarters, located in the Greater World Earthship Community near Taos, northern New Mexico. Earthships are passive solar homes made of tyres, recycled materials and rammed earth that are energy-efficient and self-sustainable.
- Late September/October is a “big” time in New Mexico. It’s when Albuquerque plays host to the world’s largest international hot air balloon festival and Las Cruces makes the world’s largest enchilada (Whole Enchilada Fiesta) – about ten feet in diameter.
- Visit the Navajo nation - the lands span parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico – which includes Angel Peak Recreation Area, the home of the "sacred ones", Chaco Culture National Historic Park, Morgan Lake, and the towns of Crownpoint, Nageezi, Nachitti, Newcomb, Shiprock, Thoreau and Tohatchi.
- DH Lawrence’s old house is in Taos. The writer and his wife Frieda were invited to New Mexico by the heiress Mabel Dodge Luhan and given a house in the mountains. Lawrence wrote about his time there in Mornings in Mexico, a collection of travel essays.
- No visit to the Land of Enchantment is complete without a trip to Roswell, the town where the flying saucer crashed (allegedly) in 1947. Roswell hosts a UFO festival each year with concerts, plays, parades, a fly-over event called Alien Invasion and planetarium show.
- The Blue Hole in Santa Rosa is known as "the scuba capital of the Southwest". This 24-metre (81-foot) deep well, full of "crystal clear" spring water, is a draw for divers due to its visibility and its constant temperature of about 15 degrees Celsius.