Los Alamos County Economic Development Review

UbiQD employees enjoy the views and access to the trails right outside the company’s back door.

Los Alamos By the Numbers *Source Applied Geographic Solutions

Daytime Population: 25,000+ • Resident population: 17,771 • Median Age: 42.7 years old • Average household income: $114,058 • Unemployment rate 2016: 3.9% • Number of Business Licenses issued 2016: 1,400

Population broken down by education: 11% High school or less • 24% Some college/Associates Degree • 27% Bachelor’s Degree • 38% Master’s or PhD

Major Employers, Budget, # of Employees

Los Alamos National Laboratory: $2.2 Billion • 14,300 Employees

Los Alamos County: $200 million • 700 Employees

Los Alamos Public Schools: $45 Million • 675 Employees

Los Alamos Medical Center: N/A • 270 Employees



I welcome you and your family to live, work, play and grow your business in our beautiful and vibrant community. Los Alamos County has worked hard over the past several years, backed by our citizens and County Council, to enhance our community and the economic opportunities that exist here. We have revitalized and improved the public spaces that connect us, particularly in our downtown areas. We have and continue to invest in new and updated public facilities, streets and infrastructure. We are building new high speed fiber-optic connections to improve broadband speeds for homes and businesses. In doing so, Los Alamos County has prepared itself for anticipated growth, and I hope you will choose to participate in these opportunities.

Los Alamos National Laboratory has long been a foundation for our local economy, and the Lab continues to generate globally important research, goods and services to protect national security. In November of 2015, the National Park Service and Department of Energy signed an MOU authorizing the opening of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, dedicated to telling the story of the Lab’s origins and its impact on the events of World War II. Together with the newly created Valles Caldera National Preserve, and the existing Bandelier National Monument, the area now boasts three National Park Service sites, which are expected to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to our community annually.

Los Alamos County is also in the process of creating a new public-private partnership to operate our local Pajarito Mountain Ski Area. This effort illustrates our dedication to high altitude recreational opportunities. The Los Alamos Public School District remains the top-ranked public educational system in the state, adding to the list of reasons businesses and families consider relocating to the area. If that’s not enough, the County boasts one of the lowest tax rates in New Mexico, while offering some of the most extensive public services found across the nation.

The County’s economic development is guided by our Economic Vitality Strategic Plan, which has four goals:





We at the County will continue to work together to achieve these goals, with your business expansion and quality lifestyle needs first and foremost in our thoughts and actions. Please take a few minutes to review our accomplishments over the past year, and again, let me welcome you to Los Alamos County, where running a business definitely has its advantages.


Harry Burgess

Los Alamos County Manager



Local Start-ups

Powered by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Los Alamos County is a global center for national security and research development. As LANL continues to produce world-class science and technology, keen entrepreneurs are finding new applications for Lab-born innovations in the international marketplace. The tech start-ups featured in this publication are basing and growing in Los Alamos as much for what the area doesn’t have (traffic, pollution, crime), as for what it does have: more PhD’s per capita, mountain living with 300+ sunny days each year, excellent schools, outdoor recreation amenities and a sense of community that is uniquely scientific.

1) UbiQD aims to power the future using quantum dots on skyscrapers. 2) Attack Research provides cybersecurity solutions for the world. 3) Descartes Labs uses satellite imagery to predict the earth’s trends and activity.

UbiQD ubiqd.com

Ask UbiQD founder Hunter McDaniel about his mission for his company, and the sky’s the limit: “To power smart cities of the future where the windows of skyscrapers produce their own energy.” In fact, the bright, low toxicity quantum dots McDaniel and his colleagues are producing gives window glass stable optical properties that hold up to high temperatures and moisture exposure. UbiQD has discovered a way to manufacture very bright I-III-IV quantum dots at low cost, using environmentally friendly synthesis that is free of toxic heavy metals or other carcinogenic materials. Los Alamos’ high altitude and dry climate provides ideal conditions for reproducible nanomaterial manufacturing. Also, the close proximity to two world class research institutions in LANL and Sandia National Laboratory allows for beneficial scientific collaborations with leading scientists in the area. With plans to expand its team by 20 new hires, UbiQD is engaging in R&D around emerging applications for its technology, with plans to license these technologies to customers. McDaniel returns to his company’s mission statement: “We think these revolutionary new materials can improve lives via applications in energy, security, safety, design, and more.”

Tibbar Plasma Technologies is transforming the accessibility and cost of renewable energy.

Tibbar Plasma Technologies tibbartech.com

Sometimes retirement is an opportunity to relax, read, travel. But in the case of Tibbar Plasma Technologies’ founder Rick Nebel, retiring from LANL was the perfect opportunity to go back to the laboratory with his colleagues, many of whom are also LANL retirees, to find out how to build a better plasma-based electrical transformer. Formed in 2016, the Tibbar team employs plasma theorists, plasma experimentalists, engineers and technicians who truly love what they do. Tibbar is currently in the R&D phase, with $3.5 million in funding from the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

Tibbar is working on a two year project to develop plasma-based electrical transformers that are smaller, lighter, and cheaper to produce with inherent surge and fault protection properties. It’s a revolutionary design they hope will attract private investors, customers, grant providers and licensees to bring the technology to markets like solar PV farms, undersea cable installations, off-shore wind platforms and wind farms. “Plasma based electrical transformers have the potential to reduce the cost of transforming power by a factor of 2x-10x,” said Rick Nebel, owner of Tibbar.

“This is a disruptive technology that will make long distance transmission of electricity a lot more affordable. This is particularly important for states like New Mexico that are developing renewable energy to export to more populous states,” said Nebel. Like most of Tibbar’s employees, Nebel has raised a family and spent most of his life in Los Alamos.

Descartes Labs

Descartes Labs descarteslabs.com

Named one of Fast Company magazine’s “Most Innovative Companies of 2017 in the sector of Artificial Intelligence(AI)/Machine Learning,” Descartes Labs has developed a cloud-based tool that harnesses the power of satellite imagery and converts the data into a form that can be used to analyze and predict trends and activity—such as climate change and crop yields. Launched in 2014, Descartes is a partnership of LANL researchers and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, who share a passion for understanding the planet. The company’s team includes geographers, remote sensing scientists, data scientists, software developers, and applications architects.

Descartes is eager to share its collection of global agricultural forecasts and intelligence to commercial, academic and government sectors—as well as a new maps site released in February 2017 containing global imagery from three satellites—in hopes that others will use it to solve global problems.

Attack Research

Attack Research attackresearch.com

In 2009, four LANL employees doing cybersecurity research in the comfort of the Lab, took the entrepreneurial leap and formed a company devoted to cracking, attacking and providing customized security solutions for its customers, including sensitive government networks and Fortune 500 companies across most industries. Attack Research’s team of consultants specialize in penetration testing, incident response, training, reverse engineering and malware analysis.

“Our specialty is to rapidly gain a deep understanding of the clients’ business process and requirements. Then to take esoteric, custom or proprietary technologies, learn them, reverse them, and leverage them,” says Chief Operating Officer Tadeusz Raven. Well known in the information security research community, Attack Research collaborates with other security professionals and individual contributors on engagements, projects and presentations at Blackhat, Defcon, SANS and other conferences.

While Attack Research’s clientele have employees traveling out of state, the four founders and most of the employees are firmly rooted in Los Alamos County—working, living and raising families in the County’s White Rock community and sharing their passion with Los Alamos High School students at career fairs.



Local Business Assistance

Building a robust growth economy is a top priority for the Los Alamos County Council and staff. As home to the number one employer for the Northern New Mexico region, the County works to leverage the economic influence and impact of the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Partnerships with federal, state and surrounding local governments, including the Eight Northern Pueblos, provide an economic infrastructure to support business attraction, retention and expansion efforts that benefit the region and the state. Los Alamos County, together with its local partners, offers a portfolio of assistance for businesses seeking to start, expand, or relocate to the County. Its Economic Development Division stands ready to assist with business needs in the areas of:

• Site selection services and site analysis

• Permit processing and assistance

• Planning, Zoning and Utility department liaison services

• Official introductions in the community and region

• Public Code interpretation and enforcement services

• Grants, low interest loans, land and/or infrastructure for qualified economic development purposes (LEDA)

For more information, visit LOSALAMOSNM.US.

Los Alamos Commerce & Development Corporation (LACDC)

The LACDC was founded in 1983 by community-minded visionaries, and since that time, has played an important role in the development of the Los Alamos community:

• projectY Co-work Los Alamos is a collaborative co-working space, the first of its kind in NM with unique public/private funding sources.

• Property Operations maintains an extensive real estate portfolio all designed to serve new and growing business enterprises in Los Alamos County, and housing more than 40 businesses and organizations.

• Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce facilitates connections, by advocating for economic initiatives to improve our community and helping members be visible through networking and promotional initiatives.

• MainStreet program produces and supports downtown events and downtown re-development initiatives.

• The Meeting & Visitor Bureau program assists tourists and visitors, and helps local businesses and attractions promote themselves.


Los Alamos National Laboratory

LANL Organizations

LANL has long been the foundation for Los Alamos County’s local economy, and the Lab continues to generate globally important research, goods and services to protect national security. Los Alamos collaborates with the following organizations within and associated with the Lab to build, strengthen and diversify the economy:

Richard P. Feynman Center for Innovation (FCI)

The FCI is guided by balancing the business needs of LANL with its special role as a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC). Their innovation activities include the creation and leverage of intellectual property (patents, copyrights) in addition to the ideas, knowledge, skills and experience of employees and network of partners. The FCI also pursues partnerships, acknowledging that no single entity can address the country’s national security challenges on its own.

LANL scientist Richard P. Feynman

New Mexico Consortium (NMC)

NMC is an innovative effort to engage universities and industry in scientific research in the nation’s interest, and to increase the role of LANL in science, education and economic development. This non-profit corporation formed by three New Mexico universities focuses on facilitating collaborations at the Lab interface.

Regional Coalition of LANL Communities

The Coalition is an organization that proactively addresses issues of the neighboring cities, counties and pueblos directly affected by LANL. The organization’s focus is environmental remediation, regional economic development, site employment, and adequate funding for LANL.

Regional Programs

Collaborations with the Regional Development Corporation of Northern New Mexico (rdcnnm.org) and the State of New Mexico’s Economic Development Department (newmexico.gov/business) enable Los Alamos County to help develop the infrastructure, public policy and workforce to support job growth through the following programs:

Business Retention and Expansion offers one-on-one services.

Venture Acceleration Fund (VAF) provides early stage seed funding to startups.

VAF Impact Magnification Project enhances the success of startup businesses with a focus on VAF applicants and awardees.

20/20 Campaign identifies and recognizes the region’s fastest high growth companies, who are the job creators for the region.

Entrepreneurial Network provides support for businesses and startups in Rio Arriba, Taos, Mora, San Miguel and Los Alamos.

Workforce/Accelerate partners with higher education institutions throughout the Northern New Mexico region to increase the pool of entry-level workers in science, technology, engineering, and math fields.

High Tech Round-table facilitates networking and panel discussions for regional high tech businesses.

Regional Economic Development Initiative (REDI) is a collaboration of Northern New Mexico cities, counties, pueblos and private sector businesses to create jobs and business infrastructure in key industry clusters, including renewable energy, technology, media, film, and value-added agriculture.



Visitor Marketing

Los Alamos County is upping its marketing game to capitalize on the recent increase in visitation and visibility. The County is building on tourism marketing efforts that are producing steady increases in Lodgers’ Tax revenues, visitation, event attendance, publicity, and social media metrics. Adding gross receipts tax revenues and conversion metrics to that list are part of a comprehensive Tourism Strategic Plan initiative to be completed in 2017.

Currently, the County is recognized by the New Mexico Tourism Department as a tourism growth leader in the state. In 2016, the Los Alamos MainStreet program was deemed the “One to Watch” at the National Great American Main Street Awards, and Los Alamos’ signature event, ScienceFest, was awarded “Outstanding Event” by the New Mexico Hospitality Association.

The County is also focused on destination development and managing the visitor experience, including development of the Wayfinding Plan, as well as a customer service audit and training to help employees and residents become Los Alamos ambassadors—designed to engender positive perceptions about Los Alamos.

The Brand Action Plan includes a Business and Talent Attraction campaign to recruit and convert prospective business owners and employees to relocate to Los Alamos. These efforts will be conducted in collaboration with LANL human resource specialists, who are seeking to recruit more than 2,400 new employees over a five-year period.

Longmire, Granite Mountain and Lone Ranger filming on location in Los Alamos.

Los Alamos Film Industry

Los Alamos County continues to offer unique landscapes, seasonal weather, and housing stock that provide the locations film makers are seeking. Depending on the length of the stay, film productions in Los Alamos have brought in anywhere from $5,000 to $250,000 in Lodgers’ Tax and gross receipts tax.

The Los Alamos Film Liaison provides film and television production support, including location scouting, resource referrals, liaison support between local public safety officials and production crews, and other services to facilitate the cost-effective and efficient operations required by the industry. The Film Liaison also works closely with the State Film Office and regional film advocacy initiatives to promote filming in Northern New Mexico locations.

In anticipation of future filming, the Los Alamos Film Office is developing a digital app to provide photos and information about the area and services.

Los Alamos Area Films

FILM: GRANITE MOUNTAIN (2017) - Director: Joseph Kosinski

T.V. SERIES: GODLESS (2017) - Director: Scott Frank

T.V. SERIES: LONGMIRE (2012-PRESENT) - Created by: Hunt Baldwin, John Coveny

FILM: THE RIDICULOUS 6 (2015) - Director: Frank Coraci

FILM: THE LONE RANGER (2013) - Director: Gore Verbinski



Housing Demand & Programs

Land Transfers/Building Potential

Los Alamos County is a unique place in location, geography, history and property ownership. During the Manhattan Project in 1943, all of the property was owned by the Department of Defense (DOD). In 1968, the government made the decision to divest themselves of the responsibility of owning a town, so Los Alamos was officially incorporated, and the property was sold to the existing residents. If a parcel was unoccupied, the federal government retained ownership.

Since that time, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has been transferring ownership of these unoccupied parcels of land to Los Alamos County as a mechanism to support economic development and sustainability. As a result, the County is in the process of actively soliciting development concepts for these tracts of available land.

Housing Demand

The current housing demand in the County is extremely high, with available inventory at an all time low. Based upon LANL projections and current retirement trends, there is a significant need for housing units of all types.

Demand estimates show the number of potential households that would buy a home now, if housing stock was available on the market, is as high as 2,250 units. With an increase in retirees wishing to remain in Los Alamos as well as a growing workforce, the housing products needed include:

• Rental unit apartments

• Multi-family townhouse/condominium units

• Senior housing for purchase

• Single family

• Downsizing options for “empty-nesters”

Locally Funded Programs

Home Renewal Program

The County funds a Home Renewal Program that provides deferred 0% interest loans to income qualified homeowners. The loans pay for critical improvements including energy efficiency upgrades, code compliance repairs, new roofs and the like that greatly improve the livability of older housing stock in the community. For information, visit losalamoshousingpartnership.org.

Home Buyer Program

This program is part of Los Alamos County’s overall efforts to address affordable housing needs in the community. Low income home buyers are able to apply for loan assistance when buying in Los Alamos where they work.



Community Reinvestment

White Rock Branch Library & Youth Activity Center


Separated by the stretch of New Mexico Highway 501 (“Main Hill Road”) and more than a thousand foot elevation change, Los Alamos County’s two communities have distinctly different microclimates, topography, development and personalities. Los Alamos Townsite, at 7300’ elevation, is defined by its proximity to the mountains, diverse housing, burgeoning retail activity, and its tourism and recreation attractions. White Rock, at 6200’ elevation, is defined by its rugged canyons and overlooks, warmer temperatures, quiet family-friendly neighborhoods, and its physical and economic role as the primary gateway to Bandelier National Monument.

Los Alamos County is actively reinvesting in all areas within its borders, embracing the tenets of “placemaking,” incorporating extensive public involvement and a hands-on approach for improving the town and its neighborhoods in a way that inspires citizens to collectively re-imagine and reinvent public spaces.*

Community-wide Initiatives

The 2016 edition of the Los Alamos Comprehensive Plan and a new business-friendly permitting system is facilitating smart development in both communities. County-wide, residents are considering funding and execution of recreation projects designed to generate revenue and other economic opportunities to improve the quality of life in Los Alamos and White Rock. Also the County is involving citizens and the business community in projects to improve signage, promotions and customer service at every visitor interface—actions that will enhance the sense of place for both visitors and citizens.

*Definition provided by Project for Public Spaces (PPS)

White Rock Visitor Center & RV Park • Bandelier Shuttle Stop

White Rock Master Plan

More than a third of Los Alamos’ 18,000-plus residents live in the community of White Rock. Just eight miles south of the Townsite, White Rock had become a bedroom community, but in 2007, the County and White Rock’s residents initiated an effort to create a new vision: to redevelop a cohesive and vibrant environment with a diverse mix of uses in a town center that attracts residents, commuters and visitors alike.

The Plan

The result was the White Rock Center Master Plan and Economic Development Strategy. Adopted in 2008, the plan provides land use, development and funding tactics to facilitate public and private development, capitalize on tourism-oriented opportunities, and create an attractive, pedestrian friendly environment.

On The Street

Los Alamos County has completed more than $30 million in public capital reinvestment toward the renovation or construction of a civic center, a senior center, a youth activity center, a public library, a visitor center and RV parking facility, streetscape, landscaping, art installations along the highway, and a fire station that serves both Los Alamos County and the Lab.

For Development

Poised for construction is a residential development of a 60-acre parcel of land (A-19-a), adjacent to the visitor center along NM4, that will provide new single and multi-family housing options for existing and new residents.


Los Alamos Townsite Improvements

The Los Alamos Townsite is taking the concept of placemaking to the next level with a series of projects designed to transform land and properties to their highest and best use. Los Alamos County used Capital Improvement Program Funds and matching grants with the State Economic Development Department to renovate or replace blighted infrastructure, bringing new amenities to residents.

Los Alamos History Museum Campus


With matching Main Street grant funds, the County completed streetscape improvements to Central Avenue—downtown Los Alamos’ “Main Street.” In addition to resurfacing and curb improvements, sidewalks, crosswalks and planters were relocated to improve site distance and pedestrian access. Lights, poles, benches, bike racks, and trash and recycling bins were replaced with mid-Century styles, harkening back to the Manhattan Project era.

The County also completed a $4 million renovation of the Historic Fuller Lodge and Guest Cottage (the History Museum), upgrading electrical systems, restoring original features and expanding access in anticipation of the increased visitation to the new History Museum Campus and other Manhattan Project National Historical Park assets.

Farmer's Market • Blue Window Bistro • Bathtub Row Brewery Co-Op • UnQuarked Wine Room

In Development

South 20th Street. The County has acquired land, completed infrastructure, and is proceeding with design and construction of a street extension to provide access to a new high-tech commercial district just south of the County’s main road to the Lab, New Mexico Highway 501 (NM501)/Trinity Drive. Currently the site of high tech start-up Descartes Labs’ headquarters (see article on page 6), the surrounding land will be subdivided into five ½- acre lots, and sold to developers upon completion of the roadwork.

1010 Central. Located in the Downtown District, this parcel is adjacent to the County Municipal Building, that is frequented by the public and its 630 employees, and is zoned for retail, commercial or mixed-use. The Los Alamos County Council is working with staff to create a new land use policy to guide development of the land parcels that the County has acquired from the Department of Energy and the Schools District.

Down The Road

County Council approved conceptual designs, cost estimates, and funding to design and construct two projects that support economic development goals. The Deacon Street project, will transform an alley and parking lot area into a multi-use outdoor space that could be re-purposed for farmers markets and other events. The DP Road project will provide utility infrastructure, extending water, sewer and electrical services for access by some existing businesses and also for currently available, developable land (parcel A-8).


The County is pursuing expansion of REDINet, a multi-million dollar, high-speed broadband fiber project to enhance business data operations in Los Alamos. In addition, the State Legislature appropriated $275,000 in capital outlay for the “Middle Mile” project, an initiative to access land and infrastructure to bring fiber to Los Alamos.

Cottonwoods on the Green • Starbucks • Farmer's Market

Retail Roundup

Los Alamos’ retail businesses are rising to the challenge of creating better innovative designs, environments, and unique offerings for customers.

The first of its kind in New Mexico, projectY Co-work Los Alamos is a collaborative co-working space with unique public/private funding sources. Secret City Kitchen provides New Mexican cuisine at a flexible “pop up” shop to bring the food to its customers. LA Soup and Specialty Foods delivers healthy, fresh, and high quality food right to your doorstep. Sirphey is a new take-out only restaurant with an eclectic menu and an online ordering app.

Several businesses received accolades in 2016, including:

• El Rigoberto’s Taco Shop - #1 Best Tacos in New Mexico

• Chile Works and Viola’s - New Mexico True Burrito Byway

• Bathtub Row Brewery - Reader’s Choice for Top Breweries in New Mexico

Expansion & Renovations

Bathtub Row Brewing Cooperative completed a new outdoor patio with seating, and now offers an assortment of wine, snacks and entertainment. Blue Window Bistro moved into new space on Central Avenue in the heart of downtown, and added a bar in the back of the restaurant. Metzger’s Do It Best in White Rock completed renovations and improvements. Pig + Fig Café expanded its operation into a new space in White Rock. Rose Chocolatier moved to larger space and expanded from a chocolate shop to a coffeehouse. The Film Festival at Home rents movies, sells coffee and snacks, and recently added a laundromat.

O’Reilleys Auto Parts is set to open on Trinity Drive. Pasta Paradiso also renovated an old space and opened on Trinity Drive. The Trinity Place, anchored by the state’s first Smith’s Marketplace, has continued to expand with the opening of four new businesses—Ensignal Verizon, Supercuts, Galaxy Nails, Domino’s, and construction of a new McDonalds.

Smith's Marketplace • McDonalds


Hospitality Inside & Out

Los Alamos County’s lodging industry has largely relied on business from contractors and other visitors to the Lab. However, since adding two new National Parks in 2015, tourism trends are pointing to significant demand for new hotel product and co-located conference facilities to complement the current inventory.

“Los Alamos offers the economic stability, community investment and opportunity for growth that we look for in any acquisition. As home to the National Lab and the Gateway to Three National Parks, this town is a stable market for lodging. Our first priority in 2017 is a refresh of the Comfort Inn property from the inside out to meet the demands of this international travel market.” - JEFF SCHAUMANN, TATANKA HOLDINGS PRESIDENT - Acquired the Los Alamos Comfort Inn & Suites in December 2016.





Bed & Breakfasts




Pueblo Canyon Inn & Gardens offers the comfort of home, with the luxury of being on vacation.

RVs, Camping, & Services

Los Alamos Main Gate Park

Located on NM502 at the entrance to Los Alamos, Main Gate Park is open year-round as a trailer and RV campground. Restrooms and a sewer dump station are available on-site. No electricity hook-ups.

White Rock Visitor Center RV Parking

Located at 115 State Road 4 in White Rock, NM, the White Rock Visitor Center RV Parking is open year-round, and contains 16 RV spaces with electricity hookups (30/50 amp), as well as a sewer dump station available on-site.

Camp May Pavilion and Campsites

Located 6 miles west of the Los Alamos town site, near the Pajarito Mountain ski area, Camp May offers tent and trailer camping, as well as restrooms, picnic areas, and a group pavilion and amphitheater. Camp May is open seasonally, May – October.

Bandelier National Monument Campgrounds:

Juniper Campground & Ponderosa Group Campground

Touted as the most beautiful and family-friendly campgrounds by Sunset magazine, the Juniper Campground and Ponderosa Group Campground offer unique access to Bandelier National Monument’s open space and trails. Permits for overnight stays in Bandelier’s backcountry are available at the Bandelier Visitor Center. There are 57 camp sites at Juniper campground, which can accommodate RVs, but does not provide hookups. The Ponderosa Group Campground can accommodate groups up to 50.

For a full list of hotels, restaurants, services and other businesses, go to VISITLOSALAMOS.ORG



Nature's Playground

Los Alamos’ temperate climate and 300 days of blue skies and bright sun makes outdoor recreation a year-round activity for residents and visitors alike.

Pajarito Mountain

Just 15 miles from downtown Los Alamos, Pajarito Mountain is known for its challenging slopes and minimal lift lines during the ski season and equally challenging bike trails during the spring, summer and fall. Los Alamos County supports a public/private partnership with Texas Capital Partners (owners of Purgatory Resort at Durango and others) to develop and expand operations and assets for all seasons.

Anniversary Trail

150+ Mile Trails Network

An aerial photo of Los Alamos County tells the trails story. The entire County’s commercial, retail and residential properties are nestled up against the Jemez Mountains or perched on top of finger mesas separated by deep canyons, with the White Rock plateau extending to a cliff’s edge before dropping to the Rio Grande. This unique topography puts a trail outside every door and a variety of natural environments to sample, from the Santa Fe National Forest to the 3,800-acres of County-owned and maintained open space, to the rugged, rocky slopes that lead to the Rio Grande. Currently, the County is developing canyon rim and urban trails to provide alternative options for residents to move around the downtown business area. Also in the works is a $500,000 project to develop a new, family-friendly biking flow trail system to connect Pajarito Mountain to the canyons below. This concept complements the expert-level trails on Pajarito Mountain with a system that accommodates a broader range of rider skills and ages.

Los Alamos Nature Center

Los Alamos Nature Center & Planetarium

Operated by the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC), the award winning Nature Center is the ideal spot for visitors to orient to the local and surrounding outdoor environments. Floor to ceiling windows frame an outdoor exhibit to observe the flora and fauna in and around the canyons, mesas, mountains and skies. Interactive indoor exhibits provide a close-up look at the smaller critters, as well as the interactive exhibits showing the varied topography and ecosystems. A state-of-the-art planetarium hosts educational and entertainment shows.

County Parks & Recreation

There are plenty of places to take a break and recreate with the locals!

Los Alamos Skate Park was designed by skateboarding professionals and accommodates most human-powered wheeled vehicles.

Los Alamos County Ice Rick is the only NHL-regulation outdoor rink in the state. During the warmer months, the rink hosts roller derby league play.

Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center just a few blocks from downtown, is the nation’s highest-elevation, indoor, Olympic-sized pool. Frequently used by international teams for high-altitude training, the Aquatic Center is host to many local, regional, state and national competitions and events.

Los Alamos County Golf Course and Community Building offers a challenging 6,500-yard, par 72, 18-hole course, a new Community Building and the Cottonwood on the Greens restaurant, all surrounded by spectacular views of the Jemez Mountains.

Los Alamos County Golf Course & Community Building


Gateway to Three National Parks

Los Alamos is home to three National Park sites: Bandelier National Monument, the Valles Caldera National Preserve and the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. According to the 2013 National Park Visitor Spending Effects Report, every tax dollar invested in the National Park Service returns $10 to the U.S. economy due to visitor spending in gateway communities. As the gateway to these national treasures, the County is working with the Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior to prepare for visitor growth in the area.

Oppenheimer Historic Sculpture

Manhattan Project National Historical Park

The Manhattan Project National Historical Park site is one of the few National Parks that focuses on American science, technology and industry during World War II. The Los Alamos site is one of three non-contiguous park sites across the country that feature the structures associated with the research and production of the atomic bomb. These include: Oak Ridge, TN (uranium enrichment); Hanford, WA (plutonium production); and Los Alamos, NM (atomic bomb design and testing). In addition to the science, the park sites interpret the social and cultural life of the individuals and families that lived and worked in these “secret cities.” In Los Alamos, some of the most iconic symbols of the Manhattan Project are open to the public today.

Bradbury Science Museum • Ashley Pond Park • Los Alamos History Museum Campus

Downtown Park Assets

Bradbury Science Museum is a window into LANL, including the history of the institution, its national security mission, and the broad range of exciting science and technology research happening today. This award-winning museum offers more than 40 interactive exhibits and two films within three galleries, providing a hands-on experience for learners of all ages.

Historic Fuller Lodge - This vertical-log and stone building has served as the social gathering place in the historic heart of Los Alamos for more than 80 years. Recent renovations have upgraded electrical systems, restored original features and expanded access in anticipation of the increased visitation to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

Ashley Pond Park has always been a central gathering place for residents and visitors alike. In 2013, the park underwent a $2.3 million renovation featuring a new performing arts stage that hosts regular performances throughout the summer months.

Los Alamos History Museum Campus - Built in 1918, the Los Alamos History Museum’s main building is located in the oldest continually occupied structure in town. Today, the museum serves as an award-winning, historical asset that presents the community’s world-changing history, through a variety of exhibits. The Hans Bethe House, originally built in 1931, is located on Bathtub Row, next door to the wartime home of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer. The museum was recently renovated and restored with all-new and expanded exhibits and a restructured historical campus as part of the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument

Open year round, dawn to dusk, Bandelier National Monument provides an opportunity to explore Ancestral Pueblo dwellings, broad mesas and steep-walled canyons where ladders provide access to small-carved dwellings built into natural recesses. Bandelier also offers 33,000 acres of designated wilderness ranging from 5,000 feet to 10,000 feet above sea level, and including 70+ miles of hiking trails and a wide variety of outdoor activities. Visitors can also explore the Bandelier Museum Exhibit. Ancestral Pueblo pottery, tools and artifacts of daily life can be seen, along with two life-size dioramas comparing Pueblo life in the past to today.

Beginning in mid-May, and running until the end of October, Los Alamos County provides Atomic City Transit shuttles into the park from the White Rock Visitors Center.

The Tsankawi section of Bandelier National Monument is 12 miles from the main section of the Park, near SR4 and East Jemez Road. There visitors can take a 1.5 mile walk along a mesa, viewing cavates, petroglyphs and the Ancestral Pueblo village of Tsankawi.

Valles Caldera National Preserve

One of the world’s seven supervolcanoes, the Valles Caldera erupted 1.2 million years ago, forming the Pajarito Plateau that is now home to Los Alamos County. In 2000, an act of Congress effectively converted this 89,000-acre property from a family ranch to a National Preserve. Located just 14 miles west of downtown Los Alamos, the scenic 30-minute drive through Bandelier and the Santa Fe National Forest opens unexpectedly onto the Valle Grande (“big valley”) section of the preserve, home to the second largest elk herd in New Mexico.

The Valles Caldera offers 54+ miles of trails and 30 miles of trout streams. There is managed public access for many activities, including elk and turkey hunting, fishing, horseback riding, hiking, biking, van tours, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, environmental education, and photographic adventures.



Event Economics

Los Alamos Creative Culture

Los Alamos’ world class creative culture was established within the first year of the Manhattan Project when the scientists, recruited from all over the world, brought their families and their love of music, opera, theater, dance and art to the town. Dr. Oppenheimer himself starred as the corpse in the Los Alamos Little Theater’s production of “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Working with the Los Alamos MainStreet, LLC and the State Tourism Department, the County produces programs, festivals and events that energize the downtown community, attracting visitors from the area assets to Los Alamos downtown attractions and businesses.

High Altitude Competitions

Whether it’s a high school swim meet or a qualifying triathlon for a national competition, sports events draw not only the athlete, but the friends and family who come to watch them. And all of them are in need of places to stay, places to eat and things to do during down time. Sports events generate revenue (gross receipts tax and Lodgers’ Tax), and provide the County an ideal opportunity to promote all of its assets. Several of the sports and recreation events that occur in Los Alamos have gained international recognition.

Summer Concert Series

From mid-May through August, the free Friday night concerts at Ashley Pond feature an eclectic mix of bands and music, providing a safe, relaxed, familyand dog-friendly venue for residents and visitors.

Los Alamos County Summer Concert Series

Pajarito Mountain Bikes, Bands & Beers Festivals

Nothing completes a day of skiing, boarding, biking, hiking—or even driving up to the base of Pajarito Mountain—than a lively band and a choice of craft beers from New Mexico’s best brewers. Beer and band events are held at the Pajarito Mountain Lodge throughout the year and are continuing to draw growing numbers from outside the Northern New Mexico region.

S.T.E.A.M. On-Tap

Every third Thursday of the month, UnQuarked wine bar is filled to capacity with local residents and visitors alike, to hear about the latest science, technology, engineering, art, and math innovations (STEAM) coming out of LANL—and the community—from the experts themselves.

ScienceFest, a Signature Event

Los Alamos ScienceFest is a four day, family-friendly, summer time celebration of the “Secret City: Unlocked,” featuring immersive experiences of Los Alamos’ defining eras—e.g., Ranch School, Manhattan Project, Cold War—as well as hands-on science and engineering demonstrations, music, food and prize opportunities.

See FYILOSALAMOS.ORG for a full listing of events.


National Rankings

“Top 100 Best Places to Live in America” Niche.com #1 - Los Alamos, 2016 #9 - White Rock, 2016

“Best Small Town in America” Livability.com #1 - 2014, 2015 and #2 - 2016 Condé Nast Traveler Magazine #1 - 2014

“10 Best Secret Ski Towns in North America” National Geographic Adventure Magazine 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016

“#1 Ancient Hot Spots: Bandelier” Sunset Magazine, 2016

“#1 Small Towns to Visit Across the U.S.” Tiny Travelogue, 2016

“#4 Best Places to Retire in New Mexico” SmartAsset, 2016

“#1 Lowest Credit Card Debt in New Mexico” SmartAsset, 2016

“Top 5 Elementary Schools in New Mexico” 2015, 2016 Niche Rankings

“Youth Program of the Year” New Mexico Recreation & Parks Association, 2016

“#7 Safest City in New Mexico” SafeWise, 2016

“Healthiest County in New Mexico” County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, 2016, 2014

“Best Hiking Under the Sun” ABQ Journal, 2015

“Top 10 Most Livable Places at 50+” AARP, 2015

“#1 Outstanding Event: Sciencefest” New Mexico Hospitality Association, 2016

“Arts & Humanities Award: Sciencefest” New Mexico Recreation & Parks Association, 2016

“Best Tourism Professional - Buffalo Tours” New Mexico Hospitality Association Top Hat Award - Awarded to Georgia Strickfaden, 2015

Contact Us

Joanie Ahlers

Economic Development Administrator


Kelly Stewart

Economic Development Marketing

Los Alamos Film Liaison


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