Weather In New Mexico - Best Time for a New Mexico Vacation

New Mexico Sunset photo by Dan Monaghan
Spectacular New Mexico Sunset Bursts of Color in the Sky

New Mexico Weather

Like no other place

New Mexico has a mild, arid or semiarid climate characterized by minimal precipitation, abundant sunshine, and low relative humidities. Like many high desert climates, New Mexico experiences relatively large temperature swings between day and night, so be prepared to put on a sweater when the sun goes down, even on the hottest days of the summer. The highest mountains in the state have climate characteristics common to alpine Rocky Mountain zones with summer temperatures reaching highs of only 70° F, while the southern desert areas daytime temperatures in the summer quite exceed 100° F.

The state is divided into three major areas by mountain ranges and highlands, oriented in a general north-south direction, and 8 climate divisions based on topographic features. The great diversity in terrain and elevation (the highest point in the state is Wheeler Peak at 13,161 feet, and the lowest is where the Pecos River flows into Texas at Red Bluff Resivoir, just 2,817 feet above sea level) means that the weather in New Mexico changes with your location as well as with the season. Whether you visit the southern part of the state or the far northern border, the NM weather you experience during your stay will depend more on elevation than relative latitude.

During the summer months, average daytime highs for elevations below 5,000 feet hover in the 90° F range, while higher elevations experience more mild temperatures in the upper 70s. In January, the coldest month, average daytime temperatures range form the middle 50s in the southern and central valleys to the middle 30s in the higher elevations of the north.

With 300 days of sunshine every year, you won’t have to worry too much about getting rained out during your stay. Unless your travels take you into the high mountains during summer monsoon season during July and August, it’s a good bet your New Mexico vacation will be full of clear, sunny days. Precipitation in the form of snow is common in the winter months, however, especially in the northern part of the state, but it’s usually the dry, champagne powder variety beloved of snow sport enthusiasts.

With plenty of sun and very little precipitation, there’s never a bad time of the year to visit New Mexico. For cultural activities and sight seeing, the best time to visit New Mexico is in the early summer or early fall, when the state is awash in arts, crafts and culinary festivals. Winter brings plentiful snows to the northern mountains, and is a perfect time to visit if you’re looking to get in a few turns at one of New Mexico’s famous ski resorts. Spring brings glorious blooms of wildflowers and pleasant temperatures, but can also be very windy season. Fall is that uniquely New Mexican phenomenon: the Hot Air Balloon optimal weather time. No matter the season, there’s always a great reason to visit New Mexico, and you’re assured to have plenty of great weather to accompany your stay. Just remember to pack the sunscreen!

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