Outdoor enthusiasts have plenty of opportunities to stay busy and active in Los Alamos. From hiking and biking to skiing, snowboarding and golfing, there’s something for nearly every interest. Plus, because of the community’s unique location, it’s not uncommon for locals to ski in the morning and play a round at Los Alamos Golf Course in the afternoon – pretty cool, right?
“The recreational opportunities in Los Alamos are amazing,” says Jonathan Ventura, executive advisor to the principal associate director for weapons programs at Los Alamos National Laboratory. “There are hundreds of hiking trails that are readily available right outside many residents’ back doors. The quality of life is just remarkably nice here.”
Hike, Bike, Compete
In Los Alamos, there’s a trail within 10 minutes of everywhere you are. For example, a 58-mile network of trails connects the canyons and mesas in and around Los Alamos, each suitable for activities like hiking, running, horseback riding and mountain biking. Bandelier National Monument and the Valles Caldera National Preserve are also favorite hiking spots; Bandelier has 70 miles of trails, while the Valles Caldera has 54 miles of trails.
In addition to just-for-fun hiking and biking expeditions, the area is known for competitive events such as Tour de Los Alamos, which has taken place for nearly 45 years and is the longest continuously-running road bike race in the Southwest. Other challenges include 10K, half marathon and marathon races at the Valles Caldera National Preserve; the Pajarito Punishment Downhill Race for mountain bikers; 50-mile, 50K and 15-mile Jemez Mountain Trail Runs; and the Los Alamos Triathlon, the oldest continuously-running triathlon in the U.S.
Hit the Slopes
Pajarito Mountain Ski Area is often referred to as one of New Mexico’s most unspoiled ski destinations, and it’s easy to see why. Located on the eastern edge of the Jemez Mountains, it has 300 skiable acres and 40 named trails for skiers and snowboarders of all levels, and it lays claim to some of the best bump skiing in the state. Additionally, TripAdvisor.com reviewers rave about Pajarito Mountain’s short lift lines, affordable prices, clean facilities and helpful staff.
Thanks to its convenient location just 5 miles west of downtown Los Alamos, it’s no problem for locals to go skiing on their lunch breaks, and it’s easy to enjoy weekends on the slopes. When the weather heats up, however, Pajarito Mountain transitions from a skiing and snowboarding destination into a hiking and biking spot, so plan accordingly.
Take a Swing
Situated at the base of the Jemez Mountains on top of the Pajarito Plateau, the 18-hole, county-owned Los Alamos Golf Course is at an elevation of 7,300 feet, making it one of the highest courses in the state. It’s also one of New Mexico’s oldest courses, open since its establishment by the Atomic Energy Commission in 1947. Today the 6,500-yard, par-72 track proves a challenge to many golfers with its sloping fairways and small push-up greens, and many who play the course comment on its lush beauty and the gorgeous views it offers.
Although Los Alamos Golf Course, which is known as “the club” to many locals, is only open from March-November, its new restaurant – Cottonwood on the Greens – serves patrons throughout the year. Find out why it’s one of the best places in Los Alamos to grab a drink.