Skip to Main Content

Project Gnome site.

Project Gnome Atomic Explosion Site

Field review by the editors.

Loving, New Mexico

Could an atomic bomb, exploded underground, melt an underground salt deposit? The Atomic Energy Commission believed that it could -- and if it could, then the superhot salt could turn nearby water into steam that could then be piped to turbines to generate electricity! That was the idea anyway.

On December 10, 1961, a three-kiloton bomb was exploded only 1,200 feet below the surface. Steam and smoke poured from the hole -- radioactive steam and smoke, making the experiment useless and rendering the site off-limits for days. The hole was eventually plugged and a plaque now marks the spot. It warns visitors against digging for potentially still-radioactive souvenirs. That's prudent, because while there are several atomic explosion sites in the U.S. that you can still visit, the Project Gnome site is the closest to a major metropolitan area -- only a 40 minute drive from downtown Carlsbad.

Project Gnome Atomic Explosion Site

Mobley Ranch Rd, Loving, NM
From Carlsbad, drive southeast on US Hwy 285. Before reaching Loving, turn east on Hwy 31/Potash Mines Rd. After around seven miles, turn right (east) on Hwy 128. Drive for a little over seven miles, then turn right onto CR-795/Mobley Ranch Rd. After a half-mile, CR-795/Mobley Ranch Rd forks to the right. Ignore it and continue straight ahead. After 4.5 miles a small dirt road appears on the left. Turn and drive east to the marker. NOTE: There are several side roads that are not the right route. The top of the concrete monument is just visible from the access road before you turn left on a much smaller path that goes 250 yards due east directly to the site.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Carlsbad Caverns Discovered - StatueCarlsbad Caverns Discovered - Statue, Carlsbad, NM - 24 mi.
Apache Canyon Trading PostApache Canyon Trading Post, Whites City, NM - 30 mi.
Living Desert Zoo and GardensLiving Desert Zoo and Gardens, Carlsbad, NM - 27 mi.
In the region:
Carlsbad Caverns, Whites City, NM - 34 mi.

More Quirky Attractions in New Mexico

Stories, reports and tips on tourist attractions and odd sights in New Mexico.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

My Sights

My Sights on Roadside America

Save Cool Vacation Destinations! ...Try My Sights

Mobile Apps

Roadside America app: iPhone, iPad Roadside America app for iPhone, iPad. On-route maps, 1,000s of photos, special research targets! ...More

Roadside Presidents app: iPhone, iPad Roadside Presidents app for iPhone, iPad. POTUS landmarks, oddities. ...More

New Mexico Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

American Treasure Tour, Oaks, Pennsylvania (Jul 8-14, 2024)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings