Drive the byway, hike Valles Caldera, get a spa treatment
Amazing scenery, great restaurants and performance venues attract many creative types that make up Los Alamos’ 13,000 residents. The city’s long list of things to do helped it earn a spot on our list of the Top 100 Best Small Towns. Here’s a look at some of the activities those living in Los Alamos enjoy.
Be among the 200,000 people each year who visit Bandelier National Monument, a 50-square-mile preserve that features only 3 miles of road but 70 miles of hiking trails. Officially a U.S. National Park, the property draws visitors who appreciate history and nature, with several examples of ancestral pueblo architectural sites as well as streams and mountain views. The attraction includes a visitor center with a museum, complete with two life-size diorama paintings, Southwestern-themed artworks, hundreds of artifacts and a 10-minute introductory film about the monument.
Take a Drive
Gather the family and motor along the Jemez Mountain Trail National Scenic Byway, a 132-mile loop that accommodates most vehicles and provides the best way to see northern New Mexico in one day. The byway climbs more than 1,000 feet through dense forest and tops off at an elevation of 9,000 feet, revealing an incredible view of the Valles Caldera volcanic crater. Other stops along the byway include waterfalls, warm springs, campgrounds, hiking trails, a historic pueblo and mission, and Ponderosa Valley Vineyard.
Check Out the Bradbury
See why Los Alamos is best known for Los Alamos National Laboratory during a tour of Bradbury Science Museum, which offers a good glimpse into the history of the laboratory and its national security mission. On site are 40 interactive exhibits within three galleries named History, Defense and Research, and two 16-minute films educate visitors about the lab’s race to build the first atomic bomb during the Manhattan Project of World War II. Children-based displays are also part of the museum.
Just relax – literally – for a few hours or an entire day at Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa, founded in the 1870s and one of the oldest natural health resorts in America. Spa is an acronym for the Latin phrase “salus per aquas,” which means “health through water,” and Ojo Caliente uses ancient sulfur-free mineral springs on its property to rejuvenate women and men customers. The staff at Ojo Caliente is dedicated to soothing not only the body, but also the mind and spirit.
Enjoy some fun exercise at a number of sports-based venues throughout the community. Kids, teens and 20-somethings can perform everything from ollies and nollies to fakies and nosegrinds at Los Alamos Skate Park, while figure skaters and hockey players have access to Los Alamos County Ice Rink. Swimmers can do laps at Larry R. Walkup Aquatic Center, and if golf is your bag, try hitting ‘em far and straight at Los Alamos County Golf Course.
Walk This Way
Lace up your terrain boots, and hike along the 54 miles of trails in Valles Caldera, one of seven super volcanoes found in the world. Besides hiking on the unusual landscape, recreational opportunities include mountain biking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, elk and turkey hunting in season, snow shoeing and trout fishing along 30 miles of streams.