When Is the Best Time
Visitors are often disappointed when they travel to New Mexico without taking a closer look at the characteristics of a particular month or season in this state. Additionally, the northern and southern part is different in terms of weather.
We visited New Mexico multiple times and talked to dozens of destination experts. Finally, we put together a must-read guide for every season (spring, summer, fall, winter) with monthly details you should check out before you go and unique best-time-to-visit tips.
Booking and Visiting Tip: Add this link to your favorites to save money: New Mexico Hotel Search | Low Price Guarantee (via booking.com) And don’t forget to check out our brand-new visiting guide for Bandelier National Monument – Best Time- Best Hikes
Weather and Best Times
North vs. South: The state of New Mexico is one where the weather is as varied as the landscape, with a distinct climatic difference between the north and south. This difference is mainly due to elevation changes, as the high mountain ranges in the north give way to low-lying basins and desert plains in the south.
Conditions in the northern part of New Mexico are warm during summer. While it’s usually still pleasant in cities like Santa Fe or Albuquerque, temperatures regularly drop below freezing during winter at higher elevations. There can be heavy snowfall in mountainous regions. In comparison, southern New Mexico experiences hot, dry summers and mild winters.
New Mexico is a fantastic year-round destination, regardless of the region you are planning to visit. However, there are better or slightly worse times for a vacation in terms of the most pleasant weather conditions or fewer crowds.
The best time to visit New Mexico is from September to November. During this period, the weather is pleasant, and balloon events take place. Spring is another great time with fewer crowds and mild weather. However, it can get windy in the spring months.
We visited Northern New Mexico quite often in September. We always say that this is one of the best months to go. The weather is pleasant and not too hot, and it’s not too busy at most places.
The best time to avoid the crowds in New Mexico in major cities and national parks or at national monuments is in the winter months and late fall or early spring.
The best time to visit Santa Fe is from September until November. The temperatures are pleasant during this time, and the massive summer tourist crowds are gone. Another advantage is the festival season during this time.
The best time to visit Albuquerque is from September (after Labor Day weekend) until November. During this time, the weather is pleasant and the heavy summer crowds are gone.
You might be wondering: what about the specific time you are planning to go? Check out our full monthly guide below and read our special tips for visiting Taos at the end of the article.
New Mexico Travel Guides We Recommend
The best guide for exploring this state via car is ‘Scenic Driving New Mexico: Exploring the State’s Most Spectacular Back Roads’ (on Amazon). It maps out short trips for exploring New Mexico’s scenic byways and back roads. We love this one! It includes great tips, even for places you already know!
Best Time to Visit New Mexico for the Cheapest Rates
The best time to visit New Mexico for cheaper rates is outside the peak holiday season in summer (July and August) and winter (before Christmas). If you visit during high season, book at least 6 months in advance. Another busy time with high lodging rates is in October during the Air Balloon Festival in Albuquerque.
We were often able to find a lot cheaper rates outside the peak seasons, especially when we booked early enough.
The best months in Northern Mexico for the lowest hotel rates from our experience are:
- November: Shoulder month after peak season and before winter holidays
- January: Right after the winter holidays
Bookmark your link from below for the lowest rates and check the prices regularly (Tip: It’s better to bookmark the links and open them in a private/incognito tab to check new rates after 1-2 days).
- Santa Fe Hotels via booking.com – Latest prices and deals (Tip: Sort by rating and price)
- Albuquerque Hotels via booking.com – Deals and Low Price Hotels
- Taos Hotel Deals via booking.com
- Hotels near Carlsbad Caverns National Park via booking.com (Tip: Sort by lowest price)
Destination expert tip: Hotels in Carlsbad became expensive due to oil field workers staying there. The cheaper option is to stay in Roswell (hotel deals), which is an hour’s drive to Carlsbad Caverns.
Best Time of Day for a Hot Air Balloon Ride
The best time of day for a hot air balloon ride in New Mexico is in the morning when the weather conditions are usually more stable. Additionally, a sunrise view in New Mexico from high above can be mesmerizing.
That’s why we highly recommend the Albuquerque Sunrise Rio Grande Valley Hot Air Balloon Ride (or click the banner above). It is being offered by Rainbow Ryders via GetYourGuide. Their pilots are just amazing and wonderful guides. We did this ride three times, and it was always a spectacular experience. We think it’s a must-do when visiting Albuquerque.
Taos in spring
Spring in New Mexico is a period of warming temperatures, although the weather remains cool early on in the season. Freezing conditions are possible in the north, with occasional snowfall, while the south will be drier and milder. Spring is usually the windiest time of year in both regions.
We often visit New Mexico’s national monuments and national parks in spring. At least until April, we usually see fewer other tourists. In May, it often gets busier already.
The Volcanoes near Albuquerque in March
Northern New Mexico: March can often be cold in northern New Mexico, with occasional winter weather periods. Heavy snowfall can occur at high altitudes, although precipitation levels will generally be low. The average high is 56°F (13°C) in Santa Fe, with an average low of 27°F (-3°C).
Southern New Mexico: Further south, the weather is warmer during the day, although temperatures can fall to around freezing overnight. The average high in White Sands National Park is 71°F (22°C), with an average low of 32°F (0°C). Precipitation is lower here than in the north, but there are a similar number of windy days.
Outdoor Activities: When hiking in the north at higher elevations (above 8000 feet), be prepared for lots of snow in March. At lower elevations, the ground will be muddy.
Crowds: March is usually the busiest month of the spring season. Especially in the weeks surrounding spring break in Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
Pecos river outside Santa Fe in April
The weather turns warmer in April, although this is often the windiest month of the year. The warm temperatures encourage the snow to melt rapidly, with rivers swelling and colorful wildflowers appearing on mountain slopes.
There are often a high number of sunny days, meaning conditions in the south can become hot.
Outdoor Activities: Early April is usually still a ‘snow period’ at higher elevations. Later in the month, the ground gets muddy, which is not ideal for hiking as well.
Crowds: Despite the favorable weather, visitor numbers in Santa Fe and Albuquerque take a dip.
Historic graveyard in May – Northern New Mexico
Northern New Mexico: With spring in full swing, May is a pleasant period. Northern New Mexico is often warm during this time, with an average high in Santa Fe of 74°F (23°C) and an average low of 42°F (5°C). It still gets chilly early in the morning, so warm clothing is helpful if you’re out and about.
The weather is usually sunny and dry, with the only precipitation coming in the form of occasional afternoon thunderstorms.
Southern New Mexico: In the south, areas around White Sands National Park will be hot, with average highs of 88°F (31°C) and average lows of 50°F (10°C). Precipitation levels remain low, and the wind speed decreases in comparison to previous months.
Outdoor Activities: There might still be some snow and mud at elevations higher than Santa Fe. Also, snowstorms in early May are possible. However, the ground at lower elevations is dry and perfect for activities like hiking.
Crowds: Tourist numbers begin to increase throughout the region during May, with a small peak in Santa Fe around the Memorial Day weekend.
Taos Ski Valley – Alpin lake in the summer
New Mexico is hot during the summer, particularly in the south, where conditions can become scorching hot during the day. The beginning of the season features many clear days with lots of sunshine, thunderstorms, and heavy rain becoming common later on.
Humidity is low, although higher further south.
National Parks / Monuments: Summer is also the peak time for national parks (White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns in the south, Pecos in the north) and national monuments. To dodge the crowds, we always arrive early at the sites and the parks when we go in the summer months.
White Sands National Park blooming plant in early June
Northern New Mexico: June is a very pleasant time in the north of the state, with warm temperatures and a high number of sunny days. The average temperature high is 84°F (29°C) in Santa Fe, and the average low is 51°F (10°C). Rainfall begins to increase compared to previous months, although the levels remain relatively low.
Southern New Mexico: Further south, temperatures are hotter, with an average high of 97°F (36°C) in White Sands National Park and an average low of 59°F (15°C).
Outdoor Activities: Mornings are better for outdoor activities in June, as they are generally cooler and drier than the afternoons. The clear days make it a great time for hiking, especially as the majority of the snow is gone from higher elevations.
Crowds: June is one of the busiest months of the year in New Mexico, with Santa Fe and Albuquerque being particularly popular with tourists as peak season begins.
Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque in July
Northern New Mexico: July is usually the hottest month of the year, with an average high in Santa Fe of 86°F (30°C) and an average low of 56°F (13°C). Conditions can be chilly early in the morning, while the afternoons can often bring storms and heavy rainfall.
Southern New Mexico: The southern parts of the state are even warmer, with White Sands National park receiving average highs of 97°F (36°C) and average lows of 64°F (18°C). The humidity tends to be slightly higher here than in the north.
Outdoor Activities: The high temperatures in July can make it unpleasant to be outdoors around the middle of the day. Despite this, it’s a great time for water-based activities such as kayaking and rafting.
There are ample opportunities for hiking, although it’s a good idea to bring sunscreen and hats while also keeping an eye out for storms.
Crowds: Peak tourist season is in full swing in July. You can expect it to be very busy in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, which usually experience their most crowded periods during this month.
Sunset skies over White Sands in August
Northern New Mexico: The hot weather continues in New Mexico during August, with an average high in Santa Fe of 83°F (29°C) and an average low of 54°F (12°C). August tends to be the wettest time of year, with the majority of precipitation coming in the form of afternoon thunderstorms. For this reason, the number of sunshine hours decreases sharply.
Southern New Mexico: Temperatures in the south remain slightly hotter than the north, with an average high in White Sands National Park of 94°F (34°C) and an average low of 62°F (17°C). Although also seeing an increase in precipitation, the south is drier than the north.
Outdoor Activities: In August, getting out early in the day can be the best way to avoid the worst of the heat and thunderstorms. August is a popular month for camping, although insect repellent is recommended to protect against biting flies, which can be common in forested regions.
Crowds: August is another very busy month in both Santa Fe and Albuquerque, with visitors gravitating to these areas to enjoy a variety of cultural events.
Hot air balloon near Albuquerque
The fall months bring mixed weather to New Mexico, although conditions early on in the season are often warm, with clear skies and sunny days. Temperatures drop rapidly towards the end of the season, particularly in the north, where snowfall occurs at higher levels. Further south, the weather remains pleasant, with warm temperatures and low precipitation.
Highlights/Events: Keep an eye out for the fascinating hot air balloon events in September and October. In southern New Mexico, the White Sands Balloon and Musical festival is known for its spectacular display of hot air balloon mass ascensions: White Sands Balloon Festival.
Visiting the north? You’ll definitely want to check out the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in October in the northern part.
National Parks: Crowds start to thin out after Labor Day Weekend. In October and November, it becomes even more quieter. Those months are a great time to visit the parks and national monuments in New Mexico.
Albuquerque sunset early September
Northern New Mexico: Conditions in September are very favorable in the north of New Mexico, with the weather remaining warm after summer’s conclusion. Santa Fe has an average high of 77°F (25°C) and an average low of 47°F (8°C). Clear skies are common, and precipitation decreases compared to previous months, along with the number of thunderstorms.
Southern New Mexico: In comparison to the north, southern New Mexico stays hot during September, with White Sands National Park experiencing an average high of 89°F (32°C) and an average low of 55°F (13°C). Precipitation is less common than in the north, although humidity is higher.
Outdoor Activities: September is one of the best months to be outdoors in New Mexico, as hiking, biking, and other activities become more comfortable as the sun’s intensity decreases.
Crowds: Santa Fe and Albuquerque remain busy during September, although there is a drop in tourist numbers compared to the summer months.
White Sands annual balloon fiesta
Northern New Mexico: October in northern New Mexico sees decreasing temperatures, although it is often warm during the day, with an average high in Santa Fe of 67°F (19°C) and an average low of 37°F (3°C). Sunny days are common, and this is usually the last month of the year that doesn’t see any snow.
Southern New Mexico: Further south, the weather is warmer, with White Sands National Park having an average high of 79°F (26°C) and an average low of 41°F (5°C).
Outdoor Activities: The changing seasons bring out beautiful colors among the trees during October, making it a scenic time to be outdoors. Hiking conditions are good, although the colder morning temperatures mean it’s a good idea to come with warm clothing.
Crowds: Due to the pleasant weather, October can still be a busy time in Santa Fe. In Albuquerque, the annual Hot Air Balloon Festival can bring a spike in tourist numbers.
Mountains near Albuquerque
Northern New Mexico: November sees occasional snowfall in northern New Mexico, with temperatures dropping well below freezing overnight. The average high in Santa Fe is 53°F (12°C), and the average low is 26°F (-4°C). Despite the cold, there are a high number of sunny days, and precipitation levels are generally low.
Southern New Mexico: The south stays warmer, although overnight temperatures can be low here too. The average high in White Sands National Park is 67°F (19°C), and the average low is 28°F (2°C). Snow is very uncommon here during this month.
Outdoor Activities: November can be good for outdoor pursuits such as hiking, especially as the mountains will still be mostly free of snow.
Crowds: Tourist numbers drop sharply during November, with this being one of the quietest months of the year in Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
Jemez springs in northern New Mexico in the winter
Winter in New Mexico brings clear skies and cold conditions to the north. The weather remains much warmer in the south, where precipitation is low – often falling as rain – with snow being a rare occurrence. In comparison, the north experiences lots of snowfall at high altitudes, with some falling to lower levels.
In recent years, our personal favorite months for visiting the national monuments and parks in New Mexico were the winter months of January and February. We experienced extremely low visitation rates and had the places almost for ourselves.
Taos Ski Valley Season: The opening dates for the season in Taos Ski Valley vary depending on weather and snowfall. However, based on historical data, the ski season usually starts in late November or early December. It closes sometime in early April, based on temperature and snowfall during that time.
White Sands sunset in December
Northern New Mexico: The temperature can be frigid sometimes in northern regions such as Santa Fe, with an average high here of 44°F (6°C) and an average low of 19°F (-7°C). December is usually a very dry month, although the majority of precipitation falls as snow. Wind speeds tend to increase compared to previous months.
Southern New Mexico: While the south of the state experiences cold temperatures overnight, it can often be mild during the day. The average high in White Sands National Park is 57°F (14°C), and the average low is 21°F (-6°C). Precipitation is slightly higher in the south, although snowfall is rare.
Outdoor Activities: Snowy landscapes and frozen waterfalls can make this a beautiful time in New Mexico, especially in the north. Depending on the amount of snowfall, opportunities for winter activities such as skiing can be ideal. Early December is often the start of the ski season in Taos Ski Valley.
Crowds: December is a quiet month, although there can be an increase in visitors to Santa Fe and Albuquerque in the days surrounding Christmas and New Year.
Taos Ski Valley in the winter
Northern New Mexico: The year begins with wintry conditions in the north of New Mexico, with average temperature highs in Santa Fe of 43°F (6°C) and lows of 18°F (-8°C). Despite the overall dry conditions, snowfall is very common over high ground, although there are many sunny days.
Southern New Mexico: Further south, the temperatures are milder, with freezing conditions only occurring at night. White Sands National Park sees average highs of 57°F (14°C) and average lows of 22°F (-6°C).
Outdoor Activities: January is one of the best months for winter sports, with high mountain valleys being popular places for skiing and snowboarding. Hiking can be very tricky at high elevations due to the accumulation of snow.
Crowds: Tourist numbers are generally low in January, although a successful ski season can increase visitor numbers in the north of the state.
New Mexico in early February
Northern New Mexico: As the final month of winter, February in New Mexico is often cold. Santa Fe experiences an average high of 48°F (9°C) and an average low of 22°F (-5°C). There tend to be more cloudy days than in previous months, and the average wind speed increases. Precipitation is low, often falling as snow at higher altitudes.
Southern New Mexico: Staying milder than the north, southern New Mexico is warm during the day, with White Sands National Park having an average high of 63°F (17°C) and an average low of 27°F (-3°C). However, strong winds can make the air feel colder.
Outdoor Activities: With cold temperatures dominating, warm clothing is sensible if you’re outdoors during February. February can be another good month for winter activities in the north, while hiking can be pleasant further south.
Crowds: February is a quiet month in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, which makes it a good time to visit in terms of fewer tourist crowds.
Tours in New Mexico We Recommend
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Taos is an Indian village that is now full of artists. There are many galleries and art products to look at and purchase. The city is very interesting and the nearby original Pueblo Village is also very interesting. Many famous artists lived in Taos.
Most travelers visit Taos between May and September. Summer means high season with more crowds and higher rates. The best sweet spot months with less tourists and pleasant temperatures at the same time are May until early June as well as late September through October.
Avoiding Tourist Crowds
You can avoid the most crowds by visiting early in the morning. Be there at 8 .a.m when Taos Pueblo opens (see below). We highly recommend being there first thing in the morning, especially during the busy high season. Another advantage to visiting early is the great lighting for photography and less heat in the summer.
The weather in Taos is usually pleasant year-round with more than 300 days of sunshine. However, it can get chilly in the winter (average high in January 40°F / 4°C). Monthly weather details including precipitation (you can switch between C and F at the top): Taos New Mexio – Monthly Climate
The Unesco World Heritage Site Taos Pueblo is open 7 days a week. Mo-Sa: 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (Sunday: 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 pm). Guided tours start at 9 a.m. Please keep in mind that Taos Pueblo is closed for a two-month period between February and April. Often people who visit in April are surprised and disappointed because of the closure. Call Pueblo Tourism first if you to plan to visit in Feb/Mar/April: (+1) (575) 758-1028
Taos photos by Ray Downs
Where to Stay: Browse the best hotels in Taos NM here: Hotels – Lodging | Taos New Mexico