What to Take
The contents of your suitcase will be determined largely by the time of year, but be prepared for a wide range of temperatures—with a variety of layers—whenever you visit.
Many people wrongly assume that New Mexico’s desert setting means heat all day, all year round. In fact, the altitude yields both extremely hot and cold weather.
Winter temperatures can dip well below freezing even in the relatively low elevations of central Albuquerque, though it sees little snow.
Spring is mud season—if you hike or head to rural areas during this time, save a clean pair of shoes for around town.
Summers are hot by day (July’s average temperature is 92°F), but as soon as the sun dips below the horizon, the temperature can drop 20°F or more, especially outside of city centers; always keep a sweater on hand. Brief afternoon “monsoons” in July and August sometimes warrant an umbrella or rain slicker.
In the sun, you’ll be more comfortable in long-sleeve, light-colored shirts and pants in silk or cotton rather than skimpy tank tops and shorts—covering up will help deflect the glare. In fact, you should guard against the sun any time of year. You should never be without sunglasses, heavy-duty sunscreen, and a brimmed hat.
As for style, anything goes. New Mexicans are very casual in their dress. Only if you’ll be hobnobbing with Santa Fe’s upper echelon need you pack something dressy—the local formalwear for men is clean jeans, shined cowboy boots, and a bolo tie. When visiting churches and pueblos, it’s respectful to not show excessive skin—women should avoid obvious cleavage and supershort skirts.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition