Los Alamos County is a small community that possesses a world-wide reputation for scientific and technological development. Community life features small-town living with friendly neighbors, low crime and an excellent school system. Cultural and recreational opportunities abound, with plenty of hiking and biking trails, skiing at the local Pajarito Ski Resort, and visits to nearby Valles Caldera National Preserve and Bandelier National Monument.
Los Alamos is located on the Pajarito Plateau, in the mountains of Northern New Mexico. It is approximately 90 miles north of Albuquerque, 35 miles from Santa Fe, and 55 miles from Taos.
At 7,355 feet altitude, Los Alamos is “big pine” country, with a mild, four-season climate. Summers have moderately warm days and cool nights. Afternoon temperatures are in the 70s and 80s and infrequently reach 90 degrees. The relatively thin air, light winds, clear skies and dry atmosphere cause nighttime temperatures to drop to the 50s even after the warmest day. Winter storms are typically short in duration, with many mild, sunny days. The annual maximum average temperature is 70 degrees and the average minimum is 42. Los Alamos is surrounded by National Forest, National Park, Pueblo, and other Federal lands. It is the smallest county in New Mexico at 109 square miles.
The population of Los Alamos is approximately 17,000 people. There are two communities in the County: the townsite of Los Alamos has about 10,500 residents and another 6,500 residents live in the community of White Rock, a few miles southeast of Los Alamos. About 190,000 people live within a forty-mile radius of Los Alamos. Los Alamos National Laboratory is the largest employer in the County. Approximately 7,000 people commute to work at the Laboratory - traveling to Los Alamos from Northern New Mexico, Santa Fe and the Albuquerque metro area, and nearly doubling the Los Alamos population during a standard work week.
The people of Los Alamos have among the highest levels of educational attainment of any community anywhere, with many residents holding a masters’ degree or PhD. The public school district typically ranks as one of the top school districts in the state and in the nation. The University of New Mexico has a branch in Los Alamos, and the community has a large home-schooled population.
The Council of the Incorporated County of Los Alamos is the governing body of Los Alamos County and was created by the Los Alamos County Charter. The Council consists of seven members elected at large for four-year, staggered terms. Each year the Council elects a Chair and Vice-Chair from within its membership. An incorporated county is established under a special provision of the state constitution. Los Alamos County has both county and municipal authority and powers. Los Alamos County has also adopted a home rule charter, which allows the County to depart from certain statutory requirements. Under the Charter, the Council is the governing body of the County.
The County employs over 700 people. Public utilities (electric, water, sewer, gas) are managed by the County, along with other municipal services such as Fire, Police, Community Development, Community Services, Public Works, Capital Projects & Facilities, and Environmental Services. The County owns and operates the local airport. Much of the infrastructure was created during the Manhattan Project in the 1940s and turned over later to the County by the Atomic Energy Commission.