Aspen Vista Trail – Fall Colors Above Santa Fe, NM

Colorful fall aspen trees covering mountainside above Santa Fe, NM.

While Colorado may boast having the most Aspen trees of any state – and their fall colors are certainly noteworthy New Mexico has seasonal changes that are equally as stunning. And IMHO, given the locations in NM I’ve experienced this fall event, I have found it to be equally if not more memorable.

Aspen Vista Trail, a very popular area above Santa Fe and up Hyde Park Rd has offered up some of my most notable Aspen tree moments by far. It has been a favorite destination both during my countless visits to Santa Fe AND while living there. Perhaps it’s been a combination of my timing and Mother Nature’s perfect weather conditions. These golden trees against a clear, bright blue sky screams fall in all the right ways!

Aspen Vista trail sign above Santa Fe, NM
Big sign at the Aspen Vista trail head.

At the trail head, you will be greeted with this sign. On this particular visit, the light was rather flat – hence not the best photo. Being that I’ve never shared these images before, figured it would make for a nice fall post. Overall the photos are a culmination of several visits during a mid-October timerframe.

Aspen Vista Trail – Views Around, Above and Below

Surrounded by golden trees as you hike up the trail is immersive. The mountainside is completely covered in Aspens in various states of their seasonal changes – yellows, oranges and greens too. It’s quite amazing! They appear to be touching shoulder to shoulder like tightly packed folks attending a concert! Then just walking up the trail where you are literally surrounded by these trees connects you with Nature. You’re just present in the moment – and take in the wonder.

Colorful aspens covering mountainside along Aspen Vista Trail Santa Fe, NM.
Colorful Aspens covering the mountainside.
Aspen Vista trail above Santa Fe, NM lined with golden Aspen trees in fall.
Surrounded by gold as you hike up the trail.

The view below you is not to be missed either. The golden leaves that are gently falling as the Aspens quake in the wind look like little gold coins as they land among the rocky ground.

Fallen aspen leaves look like gold coins on the ground.
Fallen Aspen leaves look like gold coins on the ground.

Then there is the view when you literally lay on the ground and look up. You may find the sun peeking through the tree tops with a clear blue sky as a backdrop. Only after I took this photo – which was quite by accident – that I learn that many a photographer have taken such a shot. Like minds I suppose? Either way laying on the ground and seeing this view from above is magical no matter how many photographers have captured a similar moment.

Looking upwards at golden, towering aspens along Aspen Vista Trail, Santa Fe, NM.
Looking upwards towards the sky as the sun peaks through the towering Aspen trees.

No Car? Ride The Blue Bus

Carless but still would like to take in the beautiful fall colors? Aspen Vista Trail has gotten VERY popular for leaf peepers and parking can be challenging especially on the weekends. Try Ride the Blue Bus 255 Mountain Trail Route. Have taken this multiple times – and now it’s Fare FREE! With multiple stops going up Hyde Park Rd, it’s well worth it if you like to just sit back and let someone else do the driving!

Check out this video to get an idea of the 255 Mountain Trail bus route

A crown of golden Aspen trees against a bright blue NM sky in fall.
These golden Aspens await you!

Not into hiking but still want to take in the views? Well the Blue Bus goes all the way up to Ski Santa Fe. During the fall you can spend some time amongst the golden aspens via chair lift rides. So you can chill on the chair and take in the colorful scenery. This is typically offered on the weekends between about mid-September to mid-October.

If memory serves Aspen Vista trail is about 6 miles in each direction. It can make for a long hike but thankfully it’s not super technical and you can go as far as you like and then just turn around. Bring snacks and water for sure! The temps may be cooler but you still need to stay hydrated. Keep in mind the Aspen Vista Trail begins at 9,900 feet and summits at 12,000 feet.

Bottom line, it’s well worth a visit in fall! 🙂


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