HUFFINGTON POST
10/07/2011 05:07 pm ET | Updated Nov 29, 2011

New Mexico Fall Foliage: A MapQuest Guide

New Mexico fall foliage features brilliant hues and spectacular scenery. The changing colors of leaves in autumn is one of nature’s most beloved rites of passage -- and makes for one of the most popular and inexpensive getaways for families. As part of LeafQuest -- a MapQuest series helping leaf peepers across North America find easy and rewarding destinations -- here are three recommended spots for viewing New Mexico fall foliage. — Nick Romano

Hyde Memorial State Park


Hyde Memorial State Park is a leaf-lover's heaven that's just a stone's throw from the heart of Santa Fe, the bustling state capital. Hyde Park Road -- aka Artist Road or Highway 475 -- goes from Santa Fe Plaza to the park, which is situated in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and abuts the Santa Fe National Forest (the latter boasts 1 million acres of forest habitat). In autumn, Hyde Park is awash in golden aspen groves, which attract a fair share of tourists and locals seasonally. Hikers who enjoy a challenge will want to try the Circle Trail -- a 3-mile trek that rewards visitors with a stunning overlook of the Sangre de Cristo range. There are miles of other, less hardy trails, as well.

Santa Fe North, New Mexico | Get Directions

Rio Grande Valley


The Rio Grande Valley is home to two state parks with confusingly similar names -- Rio Grande Valley State Park and Rio Grande Nature Center State Park -- right next to each other. The former is run by the city of Albuquerque, the latter by the state. But both are worth visiting for catching fall foliage in the Land of Enchantment. The two are separated by the Paseo del Bosque Trail, selected by Sunset magazine as one of the top bike paths in the country. Cottonwood, coyote willow and New Mexico olive trees create a vibrant autumn atmosphere in the area. Start your trip at the Nature Center, which has visitor information.

Candelaria Road NW, Albuquerque, NM 87107 | Get Directions

The Enchanted Circle


New Mexico’s Enchanted Circle is a circular route that loops through Carson National Forest, Eagle Nest Lake and the charming ski and artist town of Taos. The 85-mile stretch features valleys, mountains and mesas, and is home to bears, elk and wild turkeys. Gold-leaf-decked aspen trees line the route, particularly closer to the resort town of Red River in the Carson forest. Start your trip in Taos at the Taos Visitor Center.

1139 Paseo del Pueblo Sur, Taos, NM | Get Directions

Ballooning over the Rio Grande Bosque, with beautiful fall colors.

Did we miss a New Mexico fall-foliage spot? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Want other great fall-foliage destinations? Check out more LeafQuest.