Access to the Nevada National Security site is severely limited and having the chance to visit it is a long and arduous process.
A fateful day of World War II and the Manhattan Project paid off. While that would soon end the war in the Pacific, the world would never be the same. In 1951, the test site was moved and many of these nuclear tests were conducted at the Nevada National Security Site (or NNSS) (formerly known as the Nevada Test Site).
On this site, the United States carried out numerous nuclear tests. Today it is possible to visit this site. Nevada is a very interesting state, it is home to half of the Hoover Dam and half of Lake Tahoe. It is famous for the home of the largest sin city in America of Las Vegas. But of all the things we would like to know, is there in his secret area 51 (we have a good idea and sadly little green men are unlikely)?
About the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS)
- Number of nuclear explosions: Over 1000
- First test: January 27, 1951
- Underground: 921 nuclear tests were carried out underground
For decades, more than a thousand bombs have exploded here. The resulting mushroom clouds were visible for nearly 100 miles around. The city of Las Vegas is only 65 miles away and they were visible from hotels in the city. During this time, hotels have become a kind of nuclear tourist attraction. But despite its proximity to Las Vegas, it was St. George in Utah that experienced the greatest fallout, with westerly winds carrying the fallout. As a result, the place suffered higher rates of various cancers and brain tumors.
Nevada is certainly a very interesting state full of the weird and wonderful. It is a state full of opportunity and more than Vegas.
Visit the NNSS
To visit this site, one must complete a badge form on the Nevada National Security Site website. Tours are open to U.S. citizens and foreign nationals. Foreign nationals must complete the form 45 days before the planned visit.
- Canceled: At the time of writing, all tours are canceled until further notice – possibly due to the COVID-19 pandemic
NNSS public tours are of general interest and are provided on a monthly basis. Everyone must have valid identification for security badges – which can be a driver’s license for Americans but a passport for foreign nationals.
- Cost of the visit: To free
- Reservations: Reservations are required for all tours
- To note: Space is limited and fills up quickly
- Reservation basis: The principle of first come, first served
- Times: Departure at 7:30 am and return at 4:00 pm
Once one has booked a site visit, one should have the relevant documentation with them. Most tours depart from the National Atomic Testing Museum and most transportation is usually a chartered bus (with toilets).
Tour rules and recommendations
Pregnant women are discouraged from travel, not so much from radiation, but from the long bus ride and rough terrain. In addition, nothing can be removed from the site (no soil, plants or debris). All recording devices are prohibited – so you can leave your camera and mobile phone behind – it will be an excursion without the internet and Instagram photos. It will also not be an excursion for a young family as children under 14 are not allowed.
During the tour, visitors should bring their own food and drinks (although lunch is available at the Bistro).
- Recommended clothing: Casual clothing is recommended, good sturdy footwear is required for rough terrain
- Clothing prohibited: Shorts, corsairs and sandals are prohibited
- Age: All visitors must be at least 14 years old
Some of the points of interest along the tour are Mercury, Nevada, Frenchman Flat (site of the first detonation), the non-proliferation testing and assessment complex, the ice cap, the Sedan crater, the area training T-1 and others. Learn about the craters left by these gigantic explosions and the devastation suffered by various structures built to test the effects of the explosions.
There is a whole list of prohibited items. The NNSS lists them as:
- Cameras, camcorders or tape recorders
- Binoculars or telescopes
- Mobile phones
- Private laptops
- Geiger counters or dosimeters not issued by the NNSS
- Firearms, weapons or explosives
- Controlled substances or alcoholic beverages
It is an unusual but very interesting visit that would be interesting to take. Unfortunately, not everyone can take advantage of it as places are limited and there is a waiting list (tours are suspended for now anyway). But if we can find a place when touring resumes, then it will be a tour like no other.
The visit of the NNSS is a solemn reminder of the destructive power that humanity wields today and of the madness that characterized the Cold War.
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