COL­ORS OF AU­TUMN: REDS AND GOLDS

YOU DON’T HAVE TO TRAVEL FAR TO SEE FALL’S BIG SHOW

Albuquerque Journal - - FRONT PAGE - LIFE IN NEW MEX­ICO

Cool­ing nights and shorter days mean fall’s bright dis­play is right around the cor­ner. We tell you where to find the most color­ful leaves.

Nights are get­ting cooler and days are get­ting shorter, which means hot choco­late, sweaters and the chang­ing leaves of au­tumn are just around the cor­ner.

Cruis­ing around the city, one can al­ready see a sprin­kling of yel­low and or­ange leaves on top of the trees. As fall ap­proaches, the leaves will become less green, cre­at­ing a color­ful land­scape for at least a few weeks.

Kerry Jones, a metrol­o­gist with the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice in Al­bu­querque, said the in­ten­sity of the col­ors de­pends on weather con­di­tions.

“What you want is warm sunny days and cool crisp nights with­out frost or freeze,” he said. “Wet­ter than av­er­age con­di­tions in Au­gust and Septem­ber can re­sult in less vivid col­ors.”

He said the state had an above-av­er­age wet Au­gust, which could im­pact the col­ors, but it’s too soon to know yet.

There are plenty of places in the city, around it and a few hours drive to ex­pe­ri­ence a color­ful land­scape.

Bachechi and Alameda Open Space

For those short on time, Bachechi and Alameda Open Spa­ces, ad­ja­cent to one an­other in the North Val­ley, of­fer a quick fix. The county pur­chased the 27-acre Bachechi prop­erty from the fam­ily and have con­verted it into an out­door oa­sis. There are walk­ing trails, plenty of land­scap­ing and a for­est of trees that will of­fer a great view of fall col­ors. Colleen McRoberts, Ber­nalillo County open space co­or­di­na­tor, said visi­tors will see plenty of col­ors.

“Bachechi is a great choice,” she said. “You have the cot­ton­woods, maples and fruit trees and you will get yel­low but also the nice reds and pur­ples.”

McRoberts said the lack of sun­light trig­gers the change al­though tem­per­a­ture and mois­ture can con­trib­ute to ex­actly when that change hap­pens. She said typ­i­cally by mid-Septem­ber the leaves start chang­ing col­ors.

Visi­tors can walk a short dis­tance to the Alameda Open Space, which pro­vides ac­cess to the trail that runs along the bosque, of­fer­ing yet an­other view of the chang­ing leaves in both Al­bu­querque and Corrales.

Bachechi is lo­cated on the west side of Rio Grande Boule­vard. just south of Alameda. Call 505-314-0400 for in­for­ma­tion.

San­dia Crest

There may be no bet­ter way to get a bird’s eye view of the multi-col­ored val­ley than stand­ing on top of a moun­tain over­look­ing it all. San­dia Crest is just a short drive from the metro area and of­fers a view of all the fall col­ors in a mul­ti­tude of ways.

Ac­cess by ve­hi­cle to the crest is through a two-lane road on the back side of the moun­tain. The drive up there

will pro­vide trav­el­ers a view of the chang­ing col­ors. Once there, mul­ti­ple trails pro­vide ac­cess to the for­est of trees. Those not up for a hike can climb the stairs and lit­er­ally stand on the edge of the moun­tain. The spot pro­vides a panoramic view of the en­tire city.

There is a paved park­ing lot, re­strooms and gift shop. To get to the crest from Al­bu­querque, take I-40 east to the Ti­jeras exit, which is N.M. 14. Take the high­way north to N.M. 536 and turn left. The road ends at the crest.

Fourth of July Canyon

The Fourth of July Canyon is home to a camp­ground, trails and plenty of trees, mak­ing it a pop­u­lar fall des­ti­na­tion. Big­tooth maples and Rock Moun­tain maples pro­vide the main show, dis­play­ing hues of red, or­ange and pur­ple. Jay Turner, a district ranger in the area, said the area is pop­u­lar dur­ing the fall be­cause of the unique color sight­seers can find there.

“We have mostly maple species in the canyon,” he said. “Quite of few of them ac­tu­ally. That’s kind of rare in the rest of the area.”

He said the trees start to turn about mid-Septem­ber and peak un­til mid-Oc­to­ber, al­though he said there is some in­di­ca­tion that could oc­cur sooner this year. Turner said trav­el­ers can call the ranger district at 505-847-2990 to check on the progress of the trees be­fore mak­ing a trip out there.

The canyon is tucked in the Man­zano Moun­tains within the Ci­bola Na­tional For­est and takes about an hour and half to reach from Al­bu­querque. The area has grills and pic­nic ta­bles. Take plenty of wa­ter and sturdy shoes.

The canyon is near the small town of Ta­jique and driv­ers will have to travel a short dis­tance on a dirt road to ac­cess it. Once there, the chang­ing col­ors can be viewed while driv­ing, dur­ing a short walk or with a hike.

To get there from Al­bu­querque, take In­ter­state 40 to the Ti­jeras exit and go south (right) on N.M. 337 for about 35

miles. Look for a T-in­ter­sec­tion at N.M. 55 and head west (right). Drive to the town of Ta­jique and look for the Fourth of July Camp­ground sign on the right­hand side of the road, which is F.S. 55.

Santa Fe Ski Basin

The Santa Fe Ski Basin is just over an hour drive from the metro area mak­ing it an easy day trip. The Santa Fe Ski Basin is within Santa Fe Na­tional For­est and its tow­er­ing as­pens cre­ate a color­ful show dur­ing the fall. The road to the basin cuts through the as­pen for­est and pro­vides ac­cess to the San­gre de Cristo moun­tains that reach el­e­va­tions be­tween 10,000 and 12,000 feet in that area.

Julie Anne Over­ton, spokes­woman for the Santa Fe Na­tional For­est, said the trees will hit their peak color the last week of Septem­ber or the first week of Oc­to­ber.

To get there from Al­bu­querque, take In­ter­state 25 north and take the St. Fran­cis Drive exit in Santa Fe, which is U.S. High­way 84/285. Take a right at Paseo de Per­alta and fol­low it to Bishop Lodge Road and turn left. Next, take a right on Artist Road, which will become N.M. 475. Fol­low that for about 16 miles to the basin.

For in­for­ma­tion, con­tact the Es­pañola Ranger District at 505-753-7331.

Je­mez

Al­though the Je­mez Moun­tains are a fa­vorite sum­mer des­ti­na­tion for Al­bu­querque res­i­dents, the area of­fers a scenic kalei­do­scope of color in the fall.

A pop­u­lar spot is the vil­lage of Je­mez Springs. The small town pro­vides not only plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties for a hot soak but it’s nes­tled in the for­est. Visi­tors can en­joy the fall col­ors with an out­side soak in one of the nearby springs, with a hike, a stroll or even from the car. Out­side of the town in both di­rec­tions are plenty of pic­nic ar­eas right off N.M. 4, in­clud­ing the pop­u­lar Bat­tle­ship Rock.

Over­ton, the spokes­woman for the Santa Fe Na­tional For­est, said the area of­fers plenty of color. The Vir­ginia creeper and wild rose will turn red and the cot­ton­woods will turn yel­low around late Septem­ber to mid-Oc­to­ber.

For in­for­ma­tion, call the Je­mez Ranger District at 575-829-3535 or visit je­mezsprings.org.

The area is about an hour to an hour and a half from Al­bu­querque. To get there, take I-25 north to Ber­nalillo exit 242, which is N.M. 550. Travel west for 20 miles to San Ysidro. Go north (left) at N.M. 4 for about 18 miles to reach the vil­lage.

COURTESY OF BER­NALILLO COUNTY OPEN SPACE

Twi­light at the ed­u­ca­tion build­ing at the Bachechi Open Space in the early fall.

JOUR­NAL FILE

The turn­ing as­pens along the San­dia Crest Road.

COURTESY OF USDA FOR­EST SER­VICE

Color­ful as­pens tower in the Santa Fe Ski Basin.

COURTESY OF USDA FOR­EST SER­VICE

Chang­ing fall col­ors in the Je­mez Moun­tains, in the Santa Fe Na­tional For­est.

COURTESY OF USDA FOR­EST SER­VICE

Fourth of July Canyon is a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion dur­ing the fall.

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