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Trinity Site, NM

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Guide 1 Triplog  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southwest
2 of 5 by 1
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Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 1 mile
Trailhead Elevation 4,920 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2.5 hours
Interest Historic
Backpack No
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
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7  2017-04-01 kingsnake
Author kingsnake
author avatar Guides 83
Routes 182
Photos 7,946
Trips 637 map ( 5,893 miles )
Age 57 Male Gender
Location Sunnyslope, PHX
Historical Weather
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Preferred   Apr, Oct, Mar, Nov → 11 AM
Sun  5:50am - 6:10pm
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I am become Death
by kingsnake

Trinity Site, in the northern reaches of the vast White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), is where the first atomic bomb was exploded on July 16, 1945. Normally, the base is a highly restricted area, but twice a year -- on the first Saturday in April and October -- WSMR hosts an open house at Trinity Site.

There are two ways in: 1) Via convoy from Tularosa H.S., departing at precisely 8:00 a.m. 2) By self-directed drive via Stallion Gate, which is 15 miles east of San Antonio and 50 west of Carrizozo, on US-380. Stallion Gate opens at 8:00 a.m. and closes at 3:00 p.m. Regardless, there is plenty of security presence and no possibility of driving astray. It is illegal to film or photo anything on post until you arrive at Trinity Site.

At the Trinity Site gate, by the parking lot, there was a table with several booklets of information about Trinity Site and White Sands Missile Range. Jumbo, the once 214-ton steel container built to contain any accidental plutonium spillage in event of a misfire, is between parking and the food vendor (hot dogs, breakfast burritos, sodas, etc.)

Ground Zero itself is fenced off, and a quarter mile also fenced off walk from the parking lot, but there is a 8-seat golf cart shuttle for elderly or handicapped folks.

Just outside the Ground Zero fence are several souvenir kiosks.

Trinitite is a green glassy mineral created by the nuclear explosion. Most of what was not cleaned up decades ago is housed under a low building to the left. Unfortunately, the window into the building is currently shuttered.

A full size Fat Man bomb casing was on a flat bed truck. It was the same type of 'gadget' that was exploded during the Trinity Test.

It is crowded at all the exhibits, but the most crowded was the obelisk at precisely Ground Zero, where the 100 ft. tower once stood.

There are a number of photo & info signs along the perimeter fence.

From the parking area, you can take a shuttle bus to the McDonald Ranch house where the "gadget" was assembled. Although when exiting Trinity Site you drive past the McDonald Ranch, you are not allowed to drive there. You must take the shuttle, which runs every few minutes.

The whole is well-supported by WSMR tenants; Morale, Welfare & Recreation; and the New Mexico National Guard. In fact, it was the smoothest running military operation this retired soldier has ever been involved in. I guess that's what happens when you have 64 years of practice!*


* The first Trinity Site open house was in 1953.

Check out the Triplog.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2017-04-05 kingsnake
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Review
    Trinity Site
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    This was my second visit to New Mexico, and only the sixth time I have driven through it. I have never seen an emptier place, not even when I was in the first Gulf War. But all places have their own beauty, and my wife & I enjoyed our early morning drive north on US-54, through Tularosa, Three Rivers and Oscuro to Carrizozo. There actually is a small three plot cemetery in the right of way just north of Oscuro.

    Our previous visit to New Mexico came during a cross country trip in 2008. Ostensibly, the purpose of the trip was a return home to visit Wisconsin and Road America, but really it was to have one of America's best burgers at the Meers Store in Oklahoma. On the way back, we spent a day visiting the alien museums in Roswell, before heading west on US-380, through Lincoln -- where they were filming a Billy the Kid movie -- and Carrizozo to San Antonio. Just east of San Antonio, I pulled over for a historic sign, discovering it marked the nearby Trinity Site, location of the world’s first nuclear explosion.

    we came to a complete halt three miles from Stallion Gate. That's over three hundred vehicles, including several buses. Being retired Army, I understand security, and was grateful for the rare chance to visit a historic site on a still highly classified post, but it took 90 minutes until we got through Stallion Gate.

    The MPs directing traffic into theTrinity Site parking area looked so young: It made me nostalgic.

    Unfortunately, the snack stand was out of coffee by 10:30 a.m., which was a real issue because it was so cold & cloudy. (We had actually got snowed on driving the 6,400 ft. pass over Chupadera Mesa on US-380, west of Carrizozo.)

    At the souvenir stand, I bought a t-shirt -- my collection is approaching 150 -- a fridge magnet, and postcard to send our grandaughter. :)

    The thing I found most fascinating about the Fat Man display were the contact fuzes, that were a fail-safe in case the altimeter fuse failed to detonate at 500 meters.

    The Ground Zero obelisk was the most crowded of all the attractions: Everybody took pictures. Getting a closeup photo of the plaque, or even a chance to read it, was pointless.

    Finally, we checked out the information & photo signs along the far perimeter fence. One was actually amusing, the military police unit had put up a sign announcing their barn as "Lazy MP Ranch". (A play on words, since "lazy" is a ranching term for a brand letter on it's side.)

    McDonald Ranch is where Fat Man was assembled. The adobe barn and windmill have collapsed, and were taped off as a "danger area". Thankfully old adobe buildings are not no-go zones on my hikes. The ranch building had a couple more historical signs, including one with photos of the McDonald family.

    Trinity Site Video: [ youtube video ]

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    If you are in the Tularosa Convoy, just follow the leader. Simple enough.

    If you are entering off US-380, Stallion Gate is five miles south on NM-525. In the morning, the line waiting to pass through security may be several miles long. I recommend arriving after 11, when the line will be shorter. After passing security, drive a little over 13 miles on WSMR-7. Turn left on WSMR-20 at the PHETS (Permanent High Explosive Test Site). You can see Trinity Site in the distance, another almost four miles east. Park where the MPs direct you.
    page created by kingsnake on Apr 05 2017 7:48 am
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