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Winter Driving Conditions?

San Francisco...
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Winter Driving Conditions?

We will be in Santa Fe over Thanksgiving -- so just was wondering about driving conditions and what to be prepared for. Do we need chains like we do in the Sierras?

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
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1. Re: Winter Driving Conditions?

We have lived here for almost 18 years and have never owned chains! Yes, it can get snowy here during Thanksgiving, but usually not. If there is a storm, the highways usually are just closed and no one can drive anywhere. Santa Fe is not very good with road sanding/plowing and the drivers here are even worse! I would make sure you have a front wheel or all wheel drive vehicle. One Christmas vacation we did get 3 feet of snow, now that was fun!

San Francisco...
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2. Re: Winter Driving Conditions?

Thanks. My friend said Santa Fe is pretty high elevation and there would be snow. Maybe he meant Taos as he went there for skiing.

New York City, New...
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3. Re: Winter Driving Conditions?

In Santa Fe itself, driving is usually fine. It is a fairly compact place so there are not long driving distances. Snow is common but not frequent, I'd say less than 50% chance, esp. in Nov. Also some of the "snow" in SF melts away in a few hours due to bright sun.

If you drive outside SF, like up to Taos, Los Alamos, down to ABQ, etc. the chances of snow problems are higher, but not definite. Most of the time there is not much snow on the roads, unless you drive into higher elevations. Chains are not necessary nor is it like the Sierras.

I'd follow Casa Azul's ideas (as usual).

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
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4. Re: Winter Driving Conditions?

Taos and Santa Fe are at the same elevation, both have ski areas up in the nearby mountains that are much higher in elevation and those roads each can be difficult if there is snow.

Just watch the weather for any storm warnings.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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5. Re: Winter Driving Conditions?

Lived in Santa Fe for several years and we don't own chains. Thanksgiving would be too early for snow within the city. If you travel up into the mountains you may find snow at Thanksgiving, but they keep the roads up to the ski basin plowed as much as possible. If in doubt, drive a 4x4 or all-wheel drive.

Albuquerque, New...
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for Albuquerque, New Mexico
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6. Re: Winter Driving Conditions?

just to emphasize that chance of snow then not high but should it storm: (1) likely to be forecasted, (2) likely won't last on ground beyond morning (except north facing slopes), and (3) most roads quickly plowed.

Only time I ever used chains in NM was 20 years ago, on rear wheel drive pickup, driving to Sandia ski lodge, newly fallen snow and still early before road plowed. Didn't need coming back in afternoon. Thankfully, we can use 4wd or Awd these days.

Taos, New Mexico
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7. Re: Winter Driving Conditions?

Although we always, always, always love the snow in Taos and the roads are quickly cleared in and out and all 'round us, this is not necessarily the case south of here. If the roads are impassible, they will be closed and chains are irrelevant. The Sierras also get a different type of snow than the Southern Rockies in Northern New Mexico and this makes for different conditions. Our snow is extremely dry and powdery in the Winter months and you'll find this makes for much easier driving for a variety of reasons. Timing is the issue: if it's snowing at the time, get a weather and road conditions report before you leave. You can call 511 from anywhere in the State of New Mexico for Road Conditions. If not: drive!

San Francisco...
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8. Re: Winter Driving Conditions?

Thanks for all the responses. It appears that I shouldn't worry too much about snow. And if there is a freak snow storm, I have much more serious stuff to worry about (road closures). It looks like visiting Taos (the town, not the resort) should be pretty clear also in terms of driving.

9. Re: Winter Driving Conditions?

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