White Sands, New Mexico: Trinity Atomic Test Site

The exact spot where the world's first nuclear bomb exploded. Open to the public only two days each year. Walk a quarter-mile to ground zero, and take a shuttle to the house where the bomb was assembled.

White Sands Missile Range

Address:
WSMR P Route 13, White Sands, NM
Directions:
Full tank of gas recommended. I-25 exit 139. Drive 12.5 miles east on US Hwy 380. Turn right onto Hwy 525, then south five miles to the Stallion Range Center gate (Must have photo ID, vehicle registration and insurance), then another 17 miles to Trinity. Once past the gate, follow the signs. The roads will be blocked except for the one to Trinity.
Hours:
First Sa in April and Oct. Gate open 8 AM - 2 PM. (Call to verify)
Phone:
575-678-1134
Admission:
Free
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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Trinity Test Site Marker.

Trinity Atomic Test Site

The Trinity site is where the first atomic bomb was tested on July 16, 1945. The site is open to the public twice a year, on the first Saturday in April and the first Saturday in October. Access is limited because the site is now a part of White Sands Missile Range. When you get to the White Sands Missile Range, you are expected to show a form of picture ID to military police. The military police direct where you are to go and where to park. They run a pretty tight ship.

Once you get to the site, a dark obelisk denotes the spot where the first atomic bomb was detonated. One stump remains of the steel tower from which the bomb was detonated. The rest of the structure was vaporized in the blast. There is also Fat Man bomb casing on display, and large samples of a mineral called Trinitite available for viewing. Trinitite is a green glass-like mineral that was created in the blast from the exposure of the surrounding sand to intense heat. On the ground there are smaller samples of the mineral. The material is slightly radioactive and property of the U.S. Government, so DO NOT try taking it home with you. There are many pictures on display, with the focus being on military personnel rather than the scientists involved with the Manhattan Project. You can also visit the McDonald ranch house, where the plutonium core was assembled and the scientists viewed the test.

[AJ, 04/07/2005]

Flat and empty, surrounded by mountains, the Trinity site is perfect for exploding a secret bomb. Fear of radiation once banned visitors from eating at Trinity, but in recent years vendors have been allowed to sell food and souvenirs. The greatest current threat at Trinity is from wayward snakes.

Nearby Offbeat Places

Valley of Fires Lava FieldsValley of Fires Lava Fields, Carrizozo, NM - 32 mi.
Recycling Center Flying SaucerRecycling Center Flying Saucer, Socorro, NM - 35 mi.
Smokey Bear Museum And GraveSmokey Bear Museum And Grave, Capitan, NM - 53 mi.
In the region:
Auto Parts Dinosaur, Alamogordo, NM - 57 mi.

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