Eco-Tourism Bonanza: Make LA America’s Zip-line Capital

Multiple zip-line example. Courtesy photo

By William T. Sellers

As a recent Los Alamos resident returning to New Mexico after 17 years, the lab was a major business client of mine during the 1980s and 1990s.

Compared with those days, Los Alamos has come a long way.

Yet, from attending the latest capital improvement projects meeting I must confess: the end result was a bit of a disappointment.

I have long heard from local business and community interests, going back to my early days and then today, on the need for local investments that “create their own synergies.”

From my perspective, Los Alamos is not fully playing to one of its key strengths: adventure sports.

Example of a jungle zip-line. Courtesy photo

Having traveled widely and lived internationally, I’ve come to view the unique geologic features of our steep in-town canyons in a new light.

Maybe we need to take another look at their use; one currently not being realized; for pleasure, business, and an entirely different way of enjoying these natural wonders.

My idea is to maximize this spectacular Los Alamos setting by constructing a serial network of tasteful, well-planned and sited, city-owned and operated zip-line adventures in some of the appropriate canyons.

A zip-line in Colorado. Courtesy photo

Call it selective eco-tourism on steroids or whatever, but a properly executed zip-line concept would easily pay for itself within five years.

And how would that occur?

  • It would add a distinctive “force multiplier” to Los Alamos’ already nascent adventure sports cachet.
  • It would add another anchor to tourism, lodging, and overall, non-lab economic activity.
  • It would get our kids into the out-of-doors, doing something “real” with their physical bodies, instead of sedentary “virtual” activities, and enhance their appreciation of nature.
  • It would help LANL compete in attracting and retaining younger PIs and their families, so critical to the Lab’s future success.
  • It could be used for corporate and institutional teambuilding, as well as training for emergency responders on a regional or statewide basis.
  • It would simply be a helluva lot of fun, and build an even greater reverence for this tremendous resource.

Another view of a Colorado zip-line. Courtesy photo

I offer this concept as a private citizen who has been often accused of “seeing things differently, in a creative manner.”

But let’s not be naïve about the challenges of its implementation.

Aside from the cost of design, construction and operation, there’s always a battle with the ever-present “Clan of the C.a.v.e. People” (aka: “citizens against virtually everything.”)

However, I sincerely think Los Alamos has an asset that is begging to be enjoyed in a manner that would further enhance the community’s national persona, as well as the human experience of living here.

Editor’s note: William T. Sellers is a venture coach and secretary of the Los Alamos Entrepreneur’s Network. He can be reached at

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