WHILE THERE’S SOMETHING to love about New Mexico in every season, I’m an unabashed fan of fall. Give me long sleeves and turning leaves, and I’m happy. In fact, with all there is to do in October, I would even argue that it might just be the best month of the year here.

There’s almost nothing that I’m getting up at 3:30 a.m. to do, but every October, I anticipate that middle-of-the-night alarm for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta like it’s Christmas morning. I’ll willingly sit on the I-25 exit waiting to park because I know how good that breakfast burrito from Perico’s is going to taste; how thrilling it is to be near the gondolas as Dawn Patrol pilots fire their burners into the darkness; and how your senses are pulled in almost every direction as balloons inflate and take off across the launch field and into the morning light. See this month’s “Up, Up, and Away” cover story to help you get the most out of the world’s largest ballooning event.

If that were all October promised, it might be more than enough. But I’m yearning for mountainsides turning golden, hikes through the aspen groves as the trees reach into the bright blue sky, and a ride up the lift at Ski Santa Fe to take in the views—and possibly a dusting of snow—from atop the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Screams of terror (and fun!) can be heard at McCall’s Pumpkin Patch in Moriarty every Friday and Saturday night in October as fright seekers wander a haunted barn and corn maze. Photograph courtesy of McCall's Pumpkin Patch.

In fact, October’s Datebook is stuffed like a scarecrow with things to do. Film buffs can attend both the Santa Fe International Film Festival and the Colexico Experience Spaghetti & Westerns Festival, in Ratón. Portales hosts its 50th annual Peanut Valley Craft & Music Festival, while fiber art gets a spin at the Taos Wools Festival. And what would this month be without a full-on Oktoberfest in Red River with plenty of craft beer, live music, and good times? (There’s a fun one September 30 in Ruidoso, too.)

Honestly, I can’t wait. Look for me, I’ll be the one in the flannel.

Read more: As the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta lifts off for the 51st year in all its high-flying glory, here’s how to elevate your experience.