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Los Alamos Bridge

The picturesque and mountainous town of Los Alamos is a unique place to work, live, and play.


Pajarito Plateau Los Alamos sits on the Pajarito Plateau, a consolidated mass of volcanic tuff from the Valles and Toledo eruptions (1.4 to 1.1 million years ago). The town-site is built on a series of fingers of land (locally referred to as mesas) separated by deep canyons. The canyons result from water runoff from the Sierra de los Valles (a branch of the Jemez Mountains, one of the southernmost extensions of the Rockies) which border the town, and range up to several hundred feet deep. Most of the town is located on the top of the mesas, at an elevation around 7,500 feet above sea level. In addition, the community of White Rock sits at the base of the mesas, around 7000 feet.


Sunset in Los Alamos In general terms, Los Alamos has a temperate mountain climate with four distinct seasons. Spring tends to be windy and dry. However, the winds are usually light, averaging from 2 mi/h to 8 mi/h. Summer begins with warm, often dry, conditions in June, followed by a 2-month rainy season. During this "monsoon" season (referred to as monsoons by residents, but really just predictable afternoon rainstorms), roughly 35% of the annual 18 inches of precipitation falls, often in lightening storms. Los Alamos experiences 61 thunderstorm days a year, twice the national average and second in frequency only to the southeastern United States. On the other hand, over 300 days a year - 80% of all daytime hours - are clear, sunny days. In the autumn there is a return to drier and cooler weather. And in winter, mid-latitude storms drop far enough south to keep the ground covered with snow for a couple of months. Snow, like rain, in Los Alamos is highly variable, but tends to average 28 inches annually. Temperatures in January (the coldest month) range from 17° F - 40° F with an average humidity of 55%; the hottest month is July, with temperatures from 55° F - 81° F, and humidity around 40%. The hottest day on record is 95° F; the coldest, -18° F. (Current conditions according to The Weather Channel).


Los Alamos Main Gate Proud Past, Dynamic Future is the slogan of Los Alamos County, as it reflects the role Los Alamos has always seen for itself. The town started out as a boys school run by Ashley Pond, but was taken over by the US government during WWII for the express purpose of designing and building a nuclear weapon. A quick-and-dirty townsite was thrown together for this effort; the army assumed that Los Alamos would be abandoned after the war years. However, the laboratory (and thus the people) stayed around, although it wasn't until 1950 that the fences surrounding the town were taken down, and Los Alamos became open to the public (to much complaining from the residents at the time!). The county of Los Alamos finally incorporated in 1968. Since the beginning, Los Alamos has remained much the same size, and kept much of its unique and independent atmosphere.

Recreation & Culture

Jemez Falls Los Alamos has an ideal climate for outdoor recreation, with ample hiking and camping opportunities all year. During the warmer months, there are several hiking, biking, and horse riding trails, as well as developed and undeveloped campgrounds scattered around, including at Abiquiu Reservoir, a large lake an hour's drive from town. During winter, Los Alamos sports New Mexico's only outdoor ice-skating arena, and the Pajarito Ski Area is only 6 miles from the town. (and only 4 miles from LANL at its closest point -- lab employees have been known to go skiing on their lunch breaks...)

In addition, Los Alamos has an active artistic society, with its own Symphony Orchestra and Little Theatre, and several public concerts and art shows throughout the year. The Fuller Lodge Art Center is a free, public showcase of largely local and regional artists, and gives public workshops and seminars throughout the year.

Getting to Los Alamos

Map to Los Alamos Los Alamos is located about 25 miles north-west of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The easiest way to get to Los Alamos from out of state is to fly into Albuquerque, and drive to Santa Fe on I-25. From Santa Fe, take NM Highway 84/285 North to Pojoaque, and then NM 502 from Pojoaque to Los Alamos. (see a map) Alternatively, you could take NM 44 to San Ysidro and NM 4 to Los Alamos. This drive through the Jemez Mountains is a bit more scenic, but also takes about a half-hour longer (for a total trip of two hours).

Los Alamos and its satellite community of White Rock can be a bit confusing to get around in at first, but with a good street map and some practice, navigating the town becomes easy. In addition, LANL's official Visitor's Guide is available as a PDF.