Los Alamos, New Mexico is the Gateway to Three National Parks and serves as a hub for national park adventurers during 2023 National Park Week. Running Saturday, April 22 through Sunday, April 30, National Park Week is a celebration of the incredible national treasures that are designated as National Park Service units.
“Our three national parks are within a five-minute walk to a thirty-minute drive from downtown Los Alamos,” said Kelly Stewart with Los Alamos County’s Economic Development Division. “Each park represents a different era, culture, and place in time and all include outdoor recreation opportunities, from fishing in a sleeping super volcano to exploring Ancient Puebloan cavates to touring the downtown historic district. When you return to town, there are award-winning eateries, breweries, and attractions to explore.”
Come up to Los Alamos the weekend of April 22 and explore Bandelier National Monument, Valles Caldera National Preserve, and Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Each unique park offers distinct experiences, ranging from hiking and biking to historical immersion, camping, science, wildlife viewing, and more. Entrance fees will be waived for Valles Caldera National Park and Bandelier National Monument on Saturday, April 22 to kick off the celebration week, and entrance to Manhattan Project National Historical Park is always fee-free. Be sure to check each website for hours and information about travel to the respective unit.
Bandelier National Monument – A treasure beloved by all who visit, Bandelier is famed for its history, hiking trails, and wildlife. History comes to life as visitors climb ladders and step into the homes of Ancient Puebloan cliff dwellers. Throughout the park, view petroglyphs, hike the park’s expansive trail network, or spot local wildlife, including mule deer, short-horned lizards, squirrels, and many species of birds.
While the Tsankawi Unit will be closed through late-October, visitors can explore the Pueblo Loop Trail, Alcove House, Falls Trail, and Bandelier Visitor Center in Frijoles Canyon, as well as the Juniper and Ponderosa Campgrounds and backcountry and front country hiking trails.
Valles Caldera National Preserve – One of the world’s seven super volcanoes, Valles Caldera offers over 89,000 acres of scenic land perfect for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, camping, and fishing. With unique natural landscapes, wildlife is abundant, including prairie dogs, elk, black bears, and golden eagles. Ideal for outdoor adventurers of all ages, Valles Caldera National Preserve is also an International Dark Sky Park and provides stunning night sky views.
For those looking to drive deeper into Valles Caldera (past the Cabin District), backcountry vehicle passes must be reserved in advance online at recreation.gov. Thirty-five passes are available each day. Learn more about the variety of different ways you can experience Valles Caldera by visiting the park’s Things To Do web page.
Manhattan Project National Historical Park – Ahead of the July 2023 premiere of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, visitors can unlock the secrets of the real-life history behind the film. Learn about the place, the people, and the Manhattan Project by starting your visit at the Manhattan Project National Historical Park visitor center and talking with the park rangers. Enjoy a self-guided walking tour through and around the History Museum campus and down the legendary Bathtub Row, where Manhattan Project scientists and Nobel Prize winners lived. Then make your way to the award-winning Bradbury Science Museum, where you can view replicas of the Little Boy and Fat Man atomic bombs and learn how the Manhattan Project led to today’s world-changing science innovations.
To plan your Los Alamos National Park getaway, go to www.visitlosalamos.org.