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White Sands Missile Range: Background Checks & Warheads... Oh My!


Who would have thought when we were traveling along the lower regions of New Mexico, that we would happen upon a military base, let alone that we would want to gain admission on our journey.  But, like all adventures we found ourselves going with the flow as we drew closer and closer to the White Sands Missile Range.


Of course, it isn’t just one of those places you just happen upon and walk in, in fact it requires a full Department of Defense background check, as we learned upon showing up.  We weren’t exactly sure what to expect at all we just knew that this adventure was unlike any other we had experienced and with the certain amount of mystery surrounding it that we simply had to go.

When pulling down the long isolated road, we started to notice almost a city like atmosphere emerging from the jutting mountains.   The road side signs warned that we would have to stop nearby to gain clearance to the site and this made us a little doubtful that we would even be able to pass through the gates.

Before long, we had made it to our checkpoint and with that were able to visit the reception center and hand over our identification for our background check to begin.   It didn’t take long, about 10 minutes and we were cleared and squeaky clean to walk the short walk onto the base with our day pass in hand.  While there we started to notice that not a lot of people come through the gates daily, in fact the visitor book was very light on the day we were traveling through and we also saw someone get turned away for not providing adequate identity.

We were given strict instruction of going only toward the approved facility, carrying our pass throughout the trip onto the base and remembering to only shoot photos toward the mountain, as the opposite side is where they have active military functions and thus was not open to public.


When we arrived at the museum, we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of sheer information provided about our military past and how many of the battles waged over the years have been fought through the use of missiles like those tested on the grounds.

Two separate halls told the history of the facilities, the military factions which had used them and the unique stories of construction of each of the warheads.   But outside was perhaps the most interesting of the displays as you could walk through sidewalk after sidewalk lined with tools of the military trade including rocket and missile launchers, survey stations, disarmed warheads and drones.  

Such a unique place in such an unexpected location and to think we literally were almost so doubtful that we would get to come in that we thought about turning back.   This just proves that if you are curious on an adventure it really can pay off.  

No doubt, that this is a hidden treasure for all those looking for something unique to do in New Mexico.   And the best part, it was free!

Tips:

  • Call ahead if you are bringing a group to make sure everyone has the required items for admittance.

  • Obey the rules, this is an active base site you don’t want to disrespect those living there or in any way violate their privacy.

  • Watch out for snakes!  Yep, I know it sounds crazy considering it is a base but it is in the middle of the desert and there are numerous signs warning of these critters blending in to sand and sidewalks.  Always be aware!

  • Always stay on marked roads near base.   There are signs making sure you do this but we were also reminded when we entered the site that some of the missiles tested have a lasting impact so you need to make sure to stay in those areas deemed as safe.


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