The claim to fame of this small town of fewer than 20,000 people in northern New Mexico is the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where the atomic bomb was created during the war. And you certainly should spend an hour or so at the Bradbury Science Museum in town, which has informative displays on the development of atomic energy, and its uses in war and peace.
But the real reason to visit Los Alamos is that it’s close to some of New Mexico’s most stunning natural scenery.
Take a short drive to Bandelier National Monument, where you can see ancient sites that were homes to Pueblos — the Native Americans that Spanish explorers met in the 1500s. Here you can see entire neighborhoods built into the sides of mountains, and climb wooden ladders into cave dwellings for a closer look at cave paintings.
Los Alamos County offers an abundance of hiking trails for keen walkers. One of these, the Cerro Grande Route, takes you high up into the Valles Caldera, an inactive volcano. At a height of more 3,100 meters, you’ll look down into Frijoles Canyon: a spectacular view of nature in all its glory, as far as the eye can see. Take the chance to enjoy the abundant wildlife, from elk to prairie dogs to golden eagles.
Head to the White Rock lookout to see a breathtaking view of the Rio Grande, the river that looms large in U.S. and Mexican history.
And this is just a sampling of the treasures waiting for lovers of hiking trails, which will take you as far as Santa Fe National Forest. (T)