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Quemado, New Mexico: The Lightning Field

A remote, vast work of "land art" by Walter De Maria, built in 1977. Visitors must spend the night in a cabin that sleeps six, surrounded by a field of 400 lighting rods. Despite this arrangement, Lightning Field is more a New-Agey art experience than a rite of weather terror.

CR-A078, Quemado, NM
I-40 exit 89. South on Hwy 117 for about 32 miles. Left onto Hwy 41/Pie Town Rd for 10 miles. Right on County Rd A019 for four miles. Left onto unnamed road for two miles. Right onto unnamed road for two miles. Not easy to get to, and meant to be that way.
May-Oct. Overnight visits only. Reservations required. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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Visitor Tips and News About The Lightning Field

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Lightning Field

The basic description of the Lightning Field is accurate: a perfect grid of stainless steel poles one mile x one kilometer. In addition, the steel poles have sharply pointed tips and vary in height (depending on their location on the terrain) so that the tip of each pole is at the same height. If a pane of glass were laid over the grid of poles, each pole tip would touch the pane of glass.

Although it is named the Lightning Field, the name of the installation is misleading. The work is not really about lightning. Each pole is separately grounded so that a lightning strike, should it occur, would not arc from pole to pole. It would simply be a lightning strike in the area. The installation is more about precise engineering and space and light. The setting has a lot to do with the visual impact of the work. An overnight stay reinforces the quality of the experience by allowing a visitor to observe sunset and sunrise on the Field.

A few years ago, the State of New Mexico paid an adjoining landowner several hundred thousand dollars for a "view easement" to ensure no nearby development would interfere with the current view and setting.

[Len, 05/10/2012]
The Lightning Field

I read in a New Mexico book that a man built a large field of lightning rods. The book said people have to book 6 months in advance to go visit this place, and when there is a storm rolling through, it puts on quite a light show. Apparently you get dropped off at a cabin by the field and stay the night there.

The Lightning Field. Permanent land art by artist Walter DeMaria. Limited accommodations available, reservations necessary; scheduled tours April-Oct. (505) 898-3335.......... A rectangular grid in New Mexico measuring one mile by one kilometer and containing 400 stainless-steel lightning rods, it serves as an arena for observing meteorological activity.

[Chris, 11/07/2000]

The Lightning Field was created in 1977; one square mile of 400 stainless steel poles in southwestern New Mexico. Visiting season is May-October, requires advance reservations and will cost at least $85 per person per night.

Lightning Rod Field

It was created in the 70's(?) by artist Walter De Maria and is in New Mexico in some remote basin that has a fairly high incidence of lightning strikes. Intended to be a sort of "living sculpture," it is accessible only by reservation and the participants must spend the night at this remote cabin nearby. The cabin is not in the field, which is laid out in perfect grid (1 km x 1 km) consisting of 10 meter tall steel poles (perfect lightning attractors) spaced something like 50 meters apart. There is no guarantee that you will see a storm or even a strike, but the chance is good. The overnight trip is apparently part of the total experience that the artist designed, and is quite expensive.

[Adam Miller, 03/29/1999]

Nearby Offbeat Places

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In the region:
Continental Divide Trading Post, Continental Divide, NM - 63 mi.

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