Fall Colors on the Santa Fe National Forest in 2018

Each year, many forests across the United States go through a change that is both visually intoxicating and peaceful. Below you will find our predictions and suggestions for viewing the Fall Foliage on the Santa Fe National Forest. Fall color season in Northern New Mexico typically only lasts a few weeks. The peak time is typically around the beginning of October.

Espanola Ranger District

  • Current highlights: Good spots to view fall colors around this time of year are along the road leading up to Ski Santa Fe, the Aspen Vista Picnic Area.

  • Viewing routes for driving: A low clearance vehicle is recomended for navigating on NM 475 commonly known as Hyde Park Road. High clearance vehicles can navigate FR 102, which connects into NM 475. 

  • Status: Nearing peak foliage. Estimate 75 percent of color coverage with more leaves changing daily. Weather this year is making the season proceed rapidly, so make your trip within the next week to get prime viewing opportunities.
  • Location: Espanola Ranger District NM 475 is the road leading to Ski Santa Fe.
  • Recommended hiking routes: Aspen Vista Picnic Area provides a wonderful view of the fall foliage. Hiking along FR 150 from NM 475 to Tesuque Peak and back. Hiking along Trail 152.

  • Estimated peak viewing period: October 1 - October 6

  • Special considerations: NM 475 can be extremely busy during this time of year. Many vehicles might be parked along the pull-outs, as well as travelling up and down the road. Bicyclists and pedestrians walking along the road is a common occurrence. Consider going slower than the posted speed limit because of a potential increase in activity. Many pull-outs will likely be at capacity during this time. Get there early to beat the crowds.

Cuba Ranger District

  • Current highlight:  Good spots to view fall colors right now are State Hwy 126 to the Jct of State Rd 4, FS Rd 103 and FS Rd 534.
  • Viewing routes for driving:  Low clearance vehicle will have no problem navigating through State Hwy 126, FS Rd 103 and 534.  State Hwy is paved 18 miles from Cuba up to the JCT of FS Rd 20.  FS Rd 103 and 534 are graveled roads. 
  • Status:  Nearing peak.  Estimate 75 percent of color coverage with more leaves changing daily.  Colors are still changing in the lower elevation, have changed up in the higher elevation with a display of colors.
  • Recommended hiking routes.  San Pedro Parks Wilderness
  • Estimate peak viewing period:  October 1 – October 14


To see what the fall colors looked like the week of September 30th, check out this link with examples. Fall Color Photos