New Mexico Fall 2012 Update

It’s hard to find much decent info on New Mexico fall color conditions, and I see that Google has brought a couple folks here looking for that information, so I’ll do my best to oblige! As of Saturday morning, Hamilton Mesa and the upper Pecos valley were substantially colored but with a good ways to go, maybe ~40%. This week and coming weekend should be very nice up there. More or less the same was true of Cruces Basin and the Tusas mountains on the Colorado border (pictured above): a lot of great looking stands, with a lot of orange and red, but a lot of green remaining too. The oaks and understory in both the Pecos and the Tusas (especially along Hwy 64) looked fantastic.

The northern Jemez had some nice stands this weekend, but more green and somewhat duller aspens than the Tusas or Sangres. Cottonwoods in the Chama valley were barely beginning, 10% at most. The west slopes of the Sangres I only saw from a distance, but they look to be at or passing peak color. There will still be nice trees for another week or so, but the higher elevation stands are starting to get bare.

Here’s another shot from this weekend, looking north off the edge of La Grulla Plateau in the Jemez Mountains:

Shortly after I took the image above, I got in the car to drive out, only to find my headlight dimming, the whole car losing power and suddenly dying many miles off pavement in one of the least visited parts of the Jemez. Fortunately, I had all my camping gear and plenty of food, so spending another night out was no problem. But it took a lot of road walking, two hitched rides, and a call to a Triple-A operator who clearly had no concept of the realities of rural New Mexico before the old 4-Runner was heading back towards home.

8 thoughts on “New Mexico Fall 2012 Update

    • Yeah, the tow truck driver enjoyed seeing some new backroads! And it could have been much worse: Cruces Basin, where I was the day before, was way further out in the boondocks and involved much rougher roads. Overall, I got lucky.

  1. Pingback: New Mexico Fall Color « Natural History Wanderings

    • Yeah, new alternator, which it certainly would have needed soon enough anyway. And Triple A covered most of the tow, so it really wasn’t that big a deal in the big scheme of things. It mostly just cost me some time.

  2. Really wonderful images, Jackson (especially that first one…love red aspens). When I was in NM last weekend, I saw the same conditions you report…some stands of aspen (most) hadn’t started to turn yet, but there were small groups that were in great condition. A few even smaller groups were even already past peak. It really ran the gamut.

    Sorry to hear about your car problems. I once had a similar experience in Joshua Tree National Park…turns out not many people drive those roads at 12am on a weeknight in July.


    • Yeah, not much traffic on a Monday morning in the back end of the Jemez either. And the first ride I got could only take me part way, though they did give me a cold adovada burrito, which was nice. But I had to walk a couple more miles before I met an elk hunter heading for the highway.

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