Los Alamos

Stunning sunrise at Overlook Point near Bandelier, Los Alamos

It’s time to get into the nuts and bolts of life in Los Alamos. Where do you go to register a car, where do you go to pay your bills, do you have to plan your trips around traffic, and how do we go about recycling? We’ll break it down point by point.

Public Transit to Los Alamos

For those looking to live in Santa Fe or other surrounding communities, a popular option is to ride one of the regional buses that run regularly during “commuting hours” to and from Espanola and Santa Fe to LANL. For folks living in the Pojaque of Jacona areas, RTD provides a specific bus for those riders.

For lab employees living in Santa Fe, it is common to catch the large tour bus from the Santa Fe Spa (called the Santa Fe Lot) or from the South Capitol Station. NMDOT provides passes and routes for those commuting, referred to as the Blue Route, as part of the statewide Park and Ride operation. Total time each direction takes roughly one hour, making it a comfortable commute to catch up on your reading and a podcast or two.
An empty bus stop in Los Alamos, New Mexico.
Atomic City bus, Los Alamos, New Mexico.
Los Alamos has its own local bus service called Atomic City Transit. For starters, here’s what you need to know: Dispatch hours run from 6 AM to 9 PM Monday to Friday. Office hours are 8 AM to 5 PM. You can get full schedules right here.

Now here’s the great thing about Atomic City Transit: There are no fares. Atomic City runs completely on public funding and donations. Although Atomic City may not run the 24/7 schedule that some of us are used to in our own hometowns, the transit system is a far cry from the notoriously difficult bus schedules of Albuquerque. Wherever you’re going in Los Alamos, the bus will probably be able to take you there, for free. This means your kids won’t need to ask you for bus fare when they want to go visit their friends.

Public Transit in Los Alamos

Registering Your Car in Los Alamos

If you’re having trouble finding the DMV in Los Alamos, it’s located right next to the utilities office at 997 Central Avenue, and it’s not called the “DMV.” In New Mexico we call it the “MVD,” or Motor Vehicle Department, just to make things a little more different.

Our advice: Book an appointment and skip the line (not that the lines are so bad at the Los Alamos MVD), and make sure you do it at the official MVD site. The same rules apply for new registrations as almost anywhere else: Bring along your mileage statement, application, two proofs of residency and an ID, proof of insurance, and your Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin.
Exterior of City of Los Alamos Motor Vehicle Department.
Atomic City Transit bus, Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Don’t worry about it. Your main road in and out of Los Alamos is going to be NM 502 and that doesn’t get busy unless you’re driving during the main commuting hours. Given that the highway is the main artery between Santa Fe and Los Alamos, wintry weather or sudden summer monsoons can cause some backups. The other 90% of the time, you typically have very few other cars on the road and excellent views in all direction. It’s one of the best commutes we know of. In town, traffic is simply referred to as a red light—no kidding!

Los Alamos Traffic

Utility Payments in Los Alamos

It’s easy to pay your bills in Los Alamos. Just visit the Los Alamos County website and get your account started. The easiest way is to pay online, but if that’s not an option for any reason, you can walk your payments in to the office at 1000 Central Avenue or pay by mail. You can check rates and fees here. You’ll probably find utility costs in Los Alamos to be pretty reasonable.

Sunset with power lines in the foreground.
Blue Los Alamos County recycling bin

There’s no need to book a trip to the recycling plant—we’ve got the blue bins here in Los Alamos. The Lost Alamos County website has a handy guide on the matter, but we’ll break down the basics for you: You can recycle clean cardboard, plastic bottles and cans, and anything paper if it’s dry, plus foil or steel. Styrofoam, light bulbs, glass, used paper towels, chip bags, and greasy pizza boxes all go in the trash. You can take glass to Eco Station, Overlook, Co-op, or Sullivan Field, and you can take plastic bags to Smith’s Marketplace 751 Trinity Drive in Los Alamos.

Recycling in Los Alamos

Water and Electricity Conservation

The Los Alamos Energy and Water Conservation Plan is easy enough to follow. Lower your thermostat when you can, take more showers than baths, close your fireplace dampers, and turn the lights off when not in use. If a drought occurs they’ll tell you what you need to know. Day to day it’s just the same conservation tips you’d follow anywhere.

And make sure to pick up your energy conservation Welcome Kit. Each one includes LED bulbs, an air filter whistle, a fridge thermometer, a nightlight, draft stopper insulation plates, and a toilet leak detection kit available on request.
Cloudy sky with light on a clift face, Los Alamos, New Mexico.
Sign for Mesa Public Library, Los Alamos, New Mexico.

For a relatively small city with just about 12,000 people, the Mesa Public Library is impressive, with numerous book clubs for adult and child readers and a really solid inventory of books. The library can be found at 2400 Central Avenue in Los Alamos and is open from 10 AM to 9 PM Monday through Thursday, closing at 6 PM on Friday and 5 PM on Saturday. Sunday hours are noon to 5 PM. There is a second library branch in White Rock at 10 Sherwood Boulevard with the same business hours. Shown below, the Los Alamos branch was designed in 1994 by American architect Antoine Predock.

Libraries in Los Alamos