Things to do / Travel Guide
Trees and Plants of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado
In most of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, mainly hard, desert plant life, like shrubs and chaparral, dominate the landscape. In fact, the state flower of New Mexico, the Yucca could probably beat up your state's state flower. Since much of the desert plant life is thorny and sometimes poisonous, closed shoes are a must for hiking in these areas. Oak and ponderosa pine forests run throughout the desert highlands and parts of this region can be surprisingly green for the visitor.
Most of north-central New Mexico and southern Colorado fall within what is known as the transition zone, a climate zone that rests at 6,500-8,500 feet in altitude. In this zone trees like ponderosa, oak, juniper, spruce, and fir thrive in the cooler weather and higher altitude of the more mountainous landscapes.
As the altitudes climb into what is known as the Canadian zone at 8,500-9,500 feet, pine forests begin to replace all other types of plant life. The Alpine zone, the highest areas of the region (over 12,000 feet), lies above the tree line, and typically, only wildflowers and lichen grow at this altitude.
Wildflowers, lilies, and orchids thrive throughout the foothill areas of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, and make their appearance each year during the summer.
Wildlife of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado
In the highly complex ecosystem of the arid desert highlands, familiar desert animals like rattlesnakes, lizards, and tarantulas are found in abundance. The area is also known for a very diverse array of bird species. You can't mention desert wildlife without mentioning the coyote, a ubiquitous symbol in New Mexico that adorns all types of artwork and has a noble place in Native American folklore and heritage in the area. New Mexico's state bird, the roadrunner (beep beep), is a mainstay of the countryside throughout the desert regions of northern New Mexico.
In the mountainous areas of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, mountain wildlife runs the gamut from endangered bald eagles to Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, the state animal of Colorado. As you would expect, all types of deer and antelope are plentiful in the forests and meadows of the mountain areas. Multitudes of rodents like squirrels, chipmunks, and porcupines are very common in the transitional climate zone that runs throughout the region, as are larger mammals like elk and mountain lion.
Black bears are quite common in the region as well. Visitors who plan on camping in the area are advised to take necessary precautions against these beautiful, but potentially dangerous kings of the forest.
Waterways in these mountainous regions are chock-full of game fish, including trout, bullhead, and salmon, helping make the region an angler's paradise.
Nature Spots in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos, Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado