Concurrent with the building of the White Rock Visitor Center, Los Alamos County Public Works Department also reconstructed the section of N.M. 4 that runs adjacent to the new Visitor Center, as well as existing businesses and planned economic development projects in this area.
“We are enthusiastic about the opportunities that will be opening up to businesses in White Rock now that the new Visitor Center is open,” said Los Alamos County Council Chair Sharon Stover, adding that the facility was one of the first achievements in the White Rock Master Plan for economic development, and was completed in conjunction with improvements to adjacent N.M. 4 to enhance aesthetics and access for both local residents and visitors. “With the new Visitor Center and County-funded shuttle service, White Rock is going to be identified as the ‘entrance to Bandelier’ for most visitors. We want to create a welcoming environment that encourages travelers to stop, shop and stay with us. We hope they’ll explore opportunities in White Rock and Los Alamos that exist beyond the national park.”
“The new Visitor Center will provide a better way for the business community to reach out to the more than 200,000 tourists that use N.M. 4 to visit Bandelier National Monument each year,” said Katy Korkos, member services coordinator of the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce. “With as many as 300 visitors per day at the height of tourist season, that’s 300 people who will discover just how much there is to see and do within a short drive. We hope the resulting traffic will have a positive effect on area businesses in the County and the community as a whole.”
Several representatives from agencies who were instrumental in the planning, design and construction of the new Visitor Center and the N.M. 4 improvements will participate in the grand opening.
The White Rock Visitor Center building and landscape was developed using many environmentally friendly features such as recycled concrete-based siding; solar orientation and installation of energy efficient LED lighting in the visitor center and parking lot; installation of an inverted roof to collect rainwater for irrigation use on outside plants; xeric, low water usage landscaping; and vaulted ceilings and numerous windows to allow for plenty of natural lighting and to save energy.
Key features of the Visitor Center also include:
- RV Parking – short-term, 16-space parking for RVs, with water and electric hook-ups, as well as an on-site sanitary dump station;
- Transit hub – offering transit to/from the Los Alamos townsite and Bandelier National Monument;
- Dog holding pen – 40-foot gated dog pen for canine travelers; and
- Picnic tables.
Visitor Center hours will continue to be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at peak tourist season (March 15 through Oct. 31); and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the low season (Nov. 1 through March 14.)
Los Alamos County’s Atomic City Transit will offer free shuttle service to/from the White Rock Visitor Center to both the Los Alamos townsite (Route 2) and Bandelier National Monument.
The White Rock Visitor Center and the N.M. 4 Improvements projects are part of a coordinated effort between the Los Alamos County and the White Rock Master Plan Implementation Committee to revitalize White Rock.
The next phase includes refurbishment of the White Rock Senior Center and Youth Activity Center; along with construction of a new branch library; and extension of the Canada del Buey Trail, which will connect the White Rock Visitor Center with Overlook Park at the center of White Rock.
The improvements to N.M. 4 were completed by the Los Alamos County Public Works Department and Mountain States Constructors, ahead of schedule (February to August 2012) and under the project construction budget of $6.7 million. The White Rock Visitor Center was constructed by Gerald Martin Construction in less than a year – from November 2011 to August 2012 – at a cost of $2.5 million.
White Rock offers a vast trail system with at least 73 miles of designated trails. The community is part of Los Alamos County, whose history dates back as far as 1150 BC, when ancestral puebloans inhabited the area. Remnants of their existence can be found among the petroglyphs and pueblo dwellings at Bandelier National Monument.