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The Best & Worst Time to Visit New Mexico in 2024

The Best & Worst Time to Visit New Mexico in 2024

What's the best time to visit New Mexico?

The best time to explore New Mexico is in early fall when the cooler temperatures and the retreat of the monsoon season create ideal conditions. This period is highlighted by vibrant events such as the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and numerous Native American festivals. From Albuquerque’s mild climate to Roswell’s gentle warmth, early fall offers the best of both worlds.

New Mexico is a unique state thanks to its dramatic desert landscape and strong Mexican cultural influences, which is why many visitors come every year. You’ll find landscapes, from the deserts of White Sands National Parks to the caves of Carlsbad Caverns to dramatic mountains in the north.

The state’s long history, which includes advanced Native American civilizations and Mexican occupation, has created today’s unique cultural mélange, which you can see in towns like Santa Fe and Taos.

New Mexico has long been a destination for quirkier culture as well, from artists like Georgia O’Keefe to the alien hunters of Roswell. But in order to make the most of your trip, you’ll want to know the best time to go. We’ll show you this and more below.

Overall Best Time to Visit New Mexico

Balloons over the Rio Grande river in New Mexico during the overall best time to visit New Mexico

Greg Meland/Shutterstock

The overall best time to visit New Mexico is in the early fall, when the summer heat cools down a little bit, and you have the most events happening throughout the state.

New Mexico’s weather can get extreme, especially in the summer when temperatures in the desert rise. By September, temperatures are far more manageable in every region of the state.

In Albuquerque, temperatures in the early fall are a pleasant 81 degrees Fahrenheit before falling to a cooler 69 degrees Fahrenheit in October. In different parts of New Mexico, the climate differs somewhat.

The south tends to be even hotter and more arid. Alien hunters visiting Roswell will find unbearable temperatures in the summer, but by September, temperatures are a relatively cool 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

High in the mountains, for example in Taos, the fall is crisp and cool, with nighttime temperatures in October already close to freezing.

Another benefit of visiting in the fall is that you get to avoid New Mexico’s monsoon season. Although the climate is dry most of the year, summer can see strong storms called monsoons that bring heavy rains and flash flooding.

By the beginning of September, monsoon season weakens before ending formally on September 30th. Thanks to the great weather, New Mexico comes alive during the early autumn. Expect to see people hanging out in the gardens of breweries and craft beer houses.

This is also one of the best seasons for hiking since it isn’t dangerously hot, and the fall foliage is starting to set in. There are plenty of tourists around, but there’s also plenty to do.

Fall is also New Mexico’s peak festival season. The biggest event is definitely Albuquerque’s International Balloon Fiesta, which happens every year in early October. The sky is filled with countless colorful hot air balloons, and you can even take a ride in one.

Other can’t-miss autumn events in the state include:

September is one of the busiest months among the Pueblo Native American community, and you can (respectfully) visit several traditional dances and feast days throughout the state. New Mexico has a large Native American community, and you should learn more about their cultures while in town.

Cheapest Time to Visit New Mexico

Photo of an empty street pictured under blue sky behind some mountains during the overall least busy time to visit New Mexico, the winter

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

The cheapest time to visit New Mexico is during the state’s off-season, from November to May, when lower demand also means lower prices.

Things quiet down in New Mexico in the winter because most of New Mexico can actually get quite chilly in the winter. Temperatures in Albuquerque are in the high 40s in the winter but can get quite cold at night.

People looking for warm-weather getaways tend to head elsewhere. Spring continues the trend of unpredictable weather—there can be snow well into April, followed by days when the temperature is 70 degrees.

With the exception of ski resorts like Taos Valley, New Mexico tends to be quiet during this season, which means that prices are lower.

Even the ski areas are more affordable than comparable ones in Colorado or Wyoming because New Mexico hasn’t grown popular as a winter destination yet. Thanks to the low demand, you can find decent savings on hotel rooms during this time.

Expect discounts of 25%–30% in Albuquerque during the off-season. Smaller towns also offer discounts, but you may have to shop around a bit to find the best deals. For out-of-state visitors, January–May is the best time to visit New Mexico.

Flights to Albuquerque Airport are cheapest from January to April. Just make sure that you don’t fly during popular holiday weekends like Valentine’s Day or Easter.

Least Busy Time to Visit New Mexico

Empty wooden walking paths pictured between big buildings in Taos Ski Valley pictured during the least busy time to visit New Mexico


The least busy time to visit New Mexico is the same as the cheapest time to visit—the off-season, which runs from November to May. Thanks to the more unpredictable weather, you can have a lot of New Mexico to yourself if you visit during this time.

In the winter, take advantage of cooler temperatures and lower crowds to walk around the cities in peace. This is a great time to explore New Mexico’s beautiful nature.

Lovers of skiing and snowboarding will obviously want to head to the mountains. The state’s other nature areas, like Chaco Canyon, are even more beautiful with a dusting of snow.

This park, in particular, is a must-visit for lovers of astronomy, and the winter solstice sunrise and alignment draw visitors from around the world. Crowds tend to increase around December, but they aren’t too bad.

The holiday period is a great time to see New Mexico’s unique Christmas traditions, showing the state’s close ties with Mexico. Places like Santa Fe organize traditional processions called posadas.

Come spring, there are fewer visitors even in the mountain towns, and the weather is unpredictable and often windy.

If you get lucky, you may get warm weather for hiking in the desert. There’s also plenty to do if you stick closer to town since Albuquerque, in particular, comes alive with festivals after a quieter winter season.

Enjoy quintessentially New Mexican events like:

Worst Time to Visit New Mexico

Gorgeous sunrise over some rock formations in the middle of the desert during the overall worst time to visit New Mexico, the summer

Dean Fikar/Shutterstock

We think that the worst time to visit New Mexico is during the summer, from May until late August. Summers in New Mexico can get very hot—remember that much of the state is covered in desert.

Iconic White Sands National Park has average daily highs of 95 degrees Fahrenheit and can reach temperatures of 110 degrees on very hot days.

At these temperatures, it’s downright dangerous to spend too much time outdoors. Due to school breaks and other factors, summer is the most popular time to visit New Mexico despite the heat.

Expect plenty of crowds in popular tourist destinations like Santa Fe—and higher hotel prices. That doesn’t mean New Mexico summers are all doom and gloom. This is a great time to visit places at higher elevations, like Taos, where summer temperatures are manageably in the mid-80s.

Many towns and cities across the state organize summer events like free outdoor concerts and movie screenings. Santa Fe, in particular, is lively in the summer, with artsy events like Art Santa Fe throughout the season.

Frequently Asked Questions

Neat outdoor market pictured in Old Town Albuquerque during the off-season, one of the best times to visit New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO – JUNE 29, 2019: Old Town shops and restaurants in historic Albuquerque/Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Here are some of the most common questions to help you find the best time to visit New Mexico:

What are the best months to visit New Mexico?

The best months to visit New Mexico are September and October when the weather is pleasant and the events calendar is packed.

What’s the best time of year to visit Santa Fe?

Fall is the best time of year to visit Santa Fe for good weather, while summer is the best time to visit for arts fairs.

How many days should you spend in New Mexico?

Spend at least 10 days on your trip to New Mexico to explore the diverse regions, but even then, you won’t get to see everything.

What is the prettiest part of New Mexico?

The mountains around Taos are some of the prettiest parts of New Mexico because of their dramatic landscapes, but there are pretty places everywhere in the state.

Is New Mexico worth seeing?

New Mexico is absolutely worth seeing, thanks to its combination of beautiful nature and dynamic culture.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit New Mexico?

The best time to visit New Mexico is in the fall, which has the best combination of more manageable crowds, milder weather, and plenty of events. Visit in the winter or early spring to beat the crowds and in the summer for festivals.

So, with so  much to see and do and plenty of amazing times to visit, what are you waiting for — book your trip today and experience for yourself all that New Mexico has to offer. Happy travels!