Fall color

Golden aspens on New Mexico’s Enchanted Circle


New Mexico in autumn

Enchanted Circle: From Taos, N.M., an 85-mile scenic loop; http://enchantedcircle.org/ or www.newmexico.org/enchanted-circle-trail/.

Where to find fall color

Amtrak is bringing its one-and-only “Dome Car” to upstate New York for the fall leaf-peeping season. The car features an upper level with windows on all sides and overhead to give passengers good views of the fall colors on the route from Albany to Montreal through Oct. 29.

The refurbished vintage car dates to 1955 and has a dome section running the full length of the car.

The dome car will operate northbound from Albany to Montreal on Thursdays, Saturdays and Mondays. It returns south from Montreal on Fridays, Sundays, and Tuesdays.

Across the country, state tourism agencies are promoting scenic drives along routes where foliage provides fall color. In most places, early to mid-October is peak season, depending on when the first cold snap hits, but some regions, including New York’s Adirondacks and California’s southern Sierras, report leaves are already starting to turn.

Here are some websites that provide updated reports on fall color.


Arkansas: www.arkansas.com/fall/fall-foliage/, www.arkansas.com/fall/fall-color-locations.aspx

California: www.californiafallcolor.com/

Colorado: www.colorado.com/articles/aspen-viewing-colorado-fall-foliage-drives, with links to state parks and U.S. Forest Service

Connecticut: www.depdata.ct.gov, under “Advisories” click on “fall foliage”

Maine: www.mainefoliage.com

Massachusetts: www.massvacation.com/fallfoliage

New Hampshire: www.visitnh.gov/foliage has an interactive map and a mobile app

New York: www.iloveny.com/fall

North Carolina: www.visitnc.com

South Dakota: www.travelsd.com/Outdoors/Fall-Foliage

Tennessee: http://fall.tnvacation.com/

Vermont: www.vermontvacation.com/fall

Virginia: www.virginia.org/Fall

Wisconsin: www.travelwisconsin.com/fall-color-report, interactive map


Asheville, N.C.: www.romanticasheville.com/fall.htm

Georgia State Parks: http://gastateparks.org/item/149688

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/fallcolor.htm

New England: Yankee Magazine, www.yankeefoliage.com

Associated Press

The Northeast is deservedly famous for its autumn palette, but New England doesn’t have a lock on fall color. Bright yellow foliage decorates many parts of the Southwest this time of year, and there’s no better place to experience those hues than on a drive around the Enchanted Circle, an 85-mile loop in Northern New Mexico that begins in Taos.

“It’s the aspens everyone comes to see, those gorgeous golden colors,” said Jolene Mauer, a spokeswoman for New Mexico Tourism.

As in other parts of the country, peak leaf color is fleeting, lasting about two weeks. It’s often the end of September and first week of October, but the exact timing depends on Mother Nature, Mauer said.

Folks coming to Albuquerque for the annual Balloon Fiesta, Oct. 5-13, might also consider a side trip to take in the Enchanted Circle. Taos, the logical jumping-off point for the loop, is about 130 miles from Albuquerque and also offers museums, great food, and tours of the Taos Pueblo, a centuries-old Native settlement famous for its picturesque adobe dwellings silhouetted against the bright blue New Mexico sky.

You can cover the Enchanted Circle route in just a couple of hours if you drive straight through. Just looking out the car window will provide plenty of beautiful scenery as you wind around mountains, across valleys, past rivers, through small towns and ranchland. But there are also numerous places to stop along the way, as well as a few worthwhile detours, so you can also make a day of it if you want.

From Taos, the route heads west on 64, then north on 522 and east on 38. You’ll drive through the wooded byways of Kit Carson National Forest and take in views of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, including the state’s highest point, Wheeler Peak (13,162 feet). The aspen gold is offset in many of the vistas by deep greens from spruce and other types of trees.

You’ll pass through the towns of Questa and Red River, with a beautiful stretch through the Moreno Valley, then on to Eagle Nest, with a lake and state park, where you’ll pick up 64 again. In the resort town of Angel Fire, you can pay your respects at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park before heading back to Taos.

And if you want to extend your trip a bit, keep going northwest on 64 about 10 miles past Taos to the Rio Grande Gorge, where you can park and walk across a bridge for a view of the river 565 feet below.

Ready to relax after all that driving and sightseeing? The mineral springs at Ojo Caliente are about 30 miles from the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, and there’s a great cafe onsite.

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