Let’s Create A First Impression To Tourists With A Rim Trail That Incorporates Historical Landmarks

Image by Brenda Fleming
Los Alamos

I am a mom of two young kids, Los Alamos native and local business owner. I grew up here – explored the canyons, ran the trails, skied with my family, worked at the library, the Lab, delivered pizza – I know just about every trail, street, magical spot and small business. I am thrilled to raise my family here. Perks? Five minutes from my husband’s work, two blocks from a trail head, 10 minutes to a ski hill, a half mile from an ice skating rink, one mile from an Olympic size pool and minutes from highly rated schools. Finger mesas, lush canyons and ponderosa pines make it a nature lover’s paradise. There are endless local secrets in Los Alamos.

Los Alamos is now the gateway to three national parks. I know Los Alamos is a wonderful place. But, what kind of first impression does Los Alamos give to tourists?

With the new County Comprehensive Plan in development, I propose we take this time to model Los Alamos like other attractive mountain towns that, in my opinion, have less to offer than we do in recreation and history (think Red River, Durango, Taos). I keep thinking of a paved urban bike trail in Tahoe City that connects the town and sparks outdoor activity.

Here is what I propose. Rather than spending millions to attach the Rim Trail behind the medical center (and promote lots of J-Walking across Trinity), why not have it safely cross at 15th Street and pass by all the magical historical landmarks and Central Avenue storefronts? Then, connect to the PEEC, Aquatic Center (and fingers crossed, potential Recreation Center behind the Aquatic Center) while connecting the high school and residential areas?

I know there are sidewalks but I am talking about an accessible paved trail (bikers on right, walkers on left) that connects all that downtown Los Alamos has to offer.

With the wave of retirement and the potential for new families and tourists, we need a safe way to access town via bikes-trailers, scooters, wheel chairs and walkers while exposing the local secrets on one comprehensive path.

A tourist could see almost everything by traveling one trail. It would be the oh-so-needed-vein of our community. If we could combine that with a strip of Central Avenue dedicated to retail and restaurants, I think we would be on the right path to creating a first impression that exposes our local secrets.

Do we want a ski town? Let’s work on the town. Do we want to be a tourist attraction? Let’s work on the town! Do we want to attract talented young families to the Lab? Let’s work on the town!

If we have a nice downtown, people will want to spend time (and money!) at local businesses, the Ski Hill, historical places and the National Parks. 

Let’s face it: Not everything in Los Alamos needs to be a secret.

I attached my idea in the form of a mock tourist map of my dream urban bike path that morphs into the Rim Trail. I am aware this idea isn’t perfect. There is a lot to consider (such as the recent construction on Central) but maybe together we can come up with a plan that leads to success. I think we owe at least that to our small businesses and locals. What do you think?

I want to present these ideas at the Transportation Board meeting and Comp Plan meetings – but I know that something like this will only ever get developed if it’s wanted by all the public – not just me. If you like the idea, please get involved! Contact me at sorenson.bk@gmail.com if you want get on the list to be involved in a community think-tank.

Check out this link on the County’s discussion on Tourism with Ski Hill and National Park leaders – tourism is increasing and now is the time to take advantage of it!: http://losalamos.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=895.

Check out the County Comprehensive Plan site, which includes Public Meeting dates and Surveys: http://losalamoscountycompplan2016.com/.