Snow is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of New Mexico’s weather. Considering the state’s landscape of canyons, valleys, and dry arroyos, you must wonder if it ever snows.
Does it snow in New Mexico? Yes, and December is New Mexico’s snowiest month. The northern mountains can get over 150 inches of snowfall a year with frigid temperatures below freezing.
Read on because apart from snow-related facts about New Mexico, we included top ski destinations depending on what perks your winter adventure. Plus, we put together exciting things to do whatever month you decide to visit New Mexico.
Before we dig deep into snowy questions like, ‘Is snow common in New Mexico?’ let’s look at what the climate is like in the fifth-largest state in the union.
New Mexico’s climate is either semiarid or mild. There’s abundant sunshine and light rains, with daily and annual temperature ranges largely apart depending on the state’s eight climate divisions.
The extreme southeast (Division 1) has an average annual temperature of 64°F, while valleys and high mountains in the north (Division 2) can be lower than 40°F. During summer, elevations below 5,000 feet in Division 8 often exceed 100°F.
Does New Mexico get cold? It does, particularly in January. Here’s a quick look at New Mexico’s climate, including extreme temperature records.
|Warmest Month||July||70°F to 90°F|
|Coldest Month||January||30°F to 50°F|
|Rainiest Month||August||2.6 inches|
|Snowiest Month||December||5.3 inches|
|Highest Temperature||116°F||Orogande (July 1934)|
|Lowest Temperature||-50°F||Ciniza (January 1963)|
How Often Does It Snow In New Mexico?
Based on data collected by the US National Centers for Environmental Information from 1991 to 2020, the following table represents snowfall of at least 0.1 inches.
|Southern||0.5 to 12.3||0.9 to 34.1 inches|
|Central||3.9 to 22.5||7.9 to 38.0 inches|
|Northern||5.8 to 44.9||8.6 to 156.7 inches|
Annual climate averages and comfort index in New Mexico are the following:
|Rainfall||15 inches (60 days)|
|High Temperature (over 90°F)||42 days|
|Low Temperature (below 32°F)||142 days (nighttime)|
|Extremely Cold Temperature (below 0°F)||3 days (nighttime)|
|Most Pleasant Months||May, August, September, and October|
|Least Comfortable Months||January and December|
Where Does It Snow in New Mexico?
Apart from Albuquerque, does it snow in Santa Fe? Like Albuquerque, the city usually experiences pleasant winters, except at higher elevations during winter when snowfall can become heavy (up to 300 inches).
At this point, it’s important to stress that the northern and southern parts of New Mexico experience weather distinctively, owing to the areas’ different elevations.
The high mountain ranges in the north encourage regular temperature drops to below freezing during winter. In the south are desert plains and low-lying basins that promote mild winters.
Below are the top snowy cities in New Mexico and their average annual snowfall.
|Las Vegas||26.2 inches|
|Los Alamos||42.5 inches|
|Santa Fe||32 inches|
|White Rock||42.5 inches|
When Does It Snow in New Mexico?
The weather in New Mexico varies. So, people unfamiliar with its seasons sometimes ask, ‘Does it snow in New Mexico in December?’
Yes, December is the snowiest month in the state, and the cold season is from November to February.
New Mexico is a year-round travel destination, but if a snowy adventure is what you’re looking for, here are some top ski resorts in New Mexico. We curated this list based on ambiance, skill, and terrain.
Self-named Ski Town of the Southwest, Red River resembles a town straight from a Western movie. The ski area has easy access from town and is a favorite destination for tourists from Oklahoma and Texas.
The terrain is excellent for beginner and intermediate skiers, but those with advanced skills can enjoy the snowy powder along Catskinner.
If you visit the town in January, don’t miss ‘skijoring.’ It’s a known activity where you get towed behind an ATV or a horse instead of a boat – like waterskiing on snow.
Ranked 2nd among the family-friendly ski resorts in New Mexico by Visitors Choice on the Snow, Ski Apache sits over 12,000 feet above sea level in south-central New Mexico.
It has wide beginner slopes, cruising and challenging runs, and a huge bowl popular among skiers from West Texas.
Mescalero Apache Tribe owns the resort. It offers breathtaking views of desert lands 7,000 feet below.
Angel Fire is home to the Big Ol’ Texas Weekend and hosts the Shovel Racing World Championship.
It features an extensive snowmaking system with over 580 acres of adventure for skiers of any skill or age. After skiing through trails with terrain parks or doing some tree skiing, check out various ski rentals, ski schools, and restaurants at the base village perched at 8,600 feet.
For Expert Skiers
Taos Ski Valley
As the largest ski resort in New Mexico, you’ll get the most thrilling snowy experience while continually testing and refining your skiing skill at Taos Ski Valley.
It has nearly 1,300 skiable acres for various runs amidst a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, with two dedicated areas for experts.
It’s a year-round vacation destination, so you won’t run out of activities to explore. You can go mountain biking and hiking during summer or take scenic lift rides to indulge your passion for spectacular views.
Looking for a place to stay? Check out Blake Hotel on the resort’s slopeside. It has 80 rooms with an exquisite art collection adorning the hallway walls.
Ski Santa Fe
Atop the artistic and historic town of Santa Fe is this ski resort that’s among the top destinations for tourists.
Offering a wide range of terrains for all skiing levels, the resort has beginner slopes, groomed cruisers, long-bump runs, and tree skiing trails. If you’re an expert skier, try the out-of-bound Big Tesuque run, a powder hound’s favorite that leads toward the access road through a luge-like forested trail.
Sipapu Ski Resort
Family-owned and operated since 1952, Sipapu Ski Resort has 41 runs and a vertical drop of 1,055 feet. 70% of its 200 acres of skiing trails are maintained by a snowmaking system and the area’s average snowfall of 190 inches.
The terrain includes tree skiing, parks, long cruising, and beginner areas.
The Best of New Mexico All-Year-Round
We curated exciting activities to keep you occupied whatever month you take a trip to the state.
Start the year indulging in some winter sports at popular places for skiing and snowboarding in Southern New Mexico. Visit the White Sands National Park or go north to Santa Fe to bask under the sun.
The Nuclear Science & History Museum features themes like To The Moon: Snoopy Soars with NASA (2022). It’s open daily with a fee range of $0 to $15.
There are fewer tourists in cities like Albuquerque and Santa Fe in February. Santa Fe can be cold at -5°F and cloudy days ahead. For some winter hiking, try going south where it’s warmer during the day, accompanied by strong winds.
203 Fine Art in Taos opens its doors to the public from Tuesdays to Thursdays, offering seasonal exhibits like Color of Winter, displaying works of Early Modern and Contemporary Artists like Ronald Davis, R. M. Ellis, and America Martin.
New Mexico ushers in warmer temperatures in the spring but is usually windy. It’s the busiest month of the season, with lots of snow in the north perfect for mountain hiking.
Every Thursday, MovementLab at El Prado offers weekly classes under the mentorship of dance artists Nadine Lollino and Trey Donovan. The lessons are half-led, half-freeform modern plus improvised styles like yoga and butoh.
As the windiest month of the year, April is when the sun starts melting snow, giving way to swelling rivers and vibrant wildflowers.
From Thursdays to Saturdays, learn how Santa Fe creates award-winning spirits at the Tour of Santa Fe Spirits Distillery Tour. After exploring the facility, you’re ushered into a guided tasting of all the spirits on display.
From March to December, Heritage Hotels and Resorts in Albuquerque presents Tablao Flamenco Albuquerque Dinner Show. Witness an intimate performance space that features the artistry of Flamenco, followed by a prix fixe dinner show on Fridays and Saturdays.
Summer is here! It can get hot, especially in the South, but you can visit national parks and monuments like the Carlsbad Caverns (south) or Pecos (north). Try arriving early, though, because these sites pack up quickly.
Tourists are in full swing during the warmest month in New Mexico. However, it’s the best time to go kayaking or rafting. The warmth isn’t conducive for hiking, but if you’re up for it, remember to don a hat and put on some sunscreen (view on Amazon).
While August tends to be the wettest month, particularly in Northern New Mexico, it’s the most popular month for camping.
Enjoy New Mexico’s fall with sunny days and clear skies. The White Sands Balloon Festival in Southern New Mexico offers a fantastic display of hot air balloons across clear-blue skies. Since September is among the best months to enjoy the outdoors of New Mexico, go biking or hiking amidst a less intense sunny backdrop.
The northern part of New Mexico populates the sky with hot-air balloons at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Since crowds start to thin after the Labor Day weekend, it’s also the perfect time to walk through parks and see national monuments in New Mexico.
November is among the quietest months in cities like Albuquerque or Santa Fe when crowds start to thin.
What’s a winter experience without skiing? When visiting New Mexico in December amidst frozen waterfalls and snowy landscapes, check out Taos Ski Valley in the north. Indulge your adventurous spirit from early December until early April. Come early because tourists start to flock during the Yuletide Season.
Conclusion: Does It Snow in New Mexico?
New Mexico is more than just a winter destination. Its diverse landscape is among the most scenic across North America, giving you tons of excitement and adventure whatever month you choose to travel.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park has almost 120 caves, while the sand dunes in White Sands National Monument look like giant snowdrifts. From the autumn sky made colorful during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta to the Taos Pueblos that stood for over 1,000 years, New Mexico is worth the trip whether it’s snowing or not.