One fateful day in World War 2 and the Manhatten Project bore fruition. While it would soon end the war in the Pacific, the world would never be the same again. In 1951, the testing site was moved and many of these nuclear tests were conducted at the Nevada National Security Site (or NNSS) (previously known as the Nevada Test Site).

At this site, the US conducted many nuclear tests. Today, it is possible to tour this site. Nevada is a very interesting state, it is home to half of the Hoover Dam and half of Lake Tahoe. It is famously the home of the greatest Sin City in America of Las Vegas. But of all the things we'd like to know, is what is in its secret Area 51 (we have a fair idea and unfortunately, little green men are unlikely)?


About The Nevada National Security Site (NNSS)

  • Number Of Nuclear Explosions: Over 1,000
  • First Test: January 27, 1951
  • Underground: 921 Nuclear Tests Were Carried Out Underground

For decades, over a thousand bombs were detonated here. The resulting mushroom clouds were visible for almost 100 miles around. The city of Las Vegas is only 65 miles away and they were visible from the city's hotels. During this time the hotels became something of a nuclear tourist attraction. But despite Las Vegas' proximity, it was St. George in Utah that experienced the greater fall out with the Westerly Winds carrying the fallout there. The place has suffered higher rates of various cancers and brain tumors as a result.

Nevada is certainly a very interesting state full of the weird and the wonderful. It is a state full of opportunities and much more than just Vegas.

Visiting The NNSS

To visit this site one must complete a badging form on the Nevada National Securite Site website. The tours are open to both US citizens and foreign nationals. Foreign nationals must complete the form 45 days before the scheduled tour.

  • Canceled: As At The Time Of Writing, All Tours Are Canceled Until Further Notice - Possibly Due To The COVID-19 Pandemic

The NNSS Public Tours are for general interest and are provided on a monthly basis. Everyone must have valid forms of ID for security badging - that can be a driver's license for Americans but a passport for foreign nationals.

  • Cost Of Tour: Free
  • Reservations: Reservations Are Required For All Tours
  • Note: Space Is Limited And Fills Up Quickly
  • Booking Basis: First-Come, First-Served Basis
  • Times: Depart At 7:30 am and Return At 4:00 pm

Related: 10 Things That Have Only Recently Come To Light About Area 51

Once one has reserved a tour of the site, one must have the relevant documentation with them. Most of the tours depart from the National Atomic Testing Museum and the most of transport is usually a chartered bus (equipped with a restroom).

Tour Regulations And Recommendations

Pregnant women are discouraged from the trip, not so much from the radiation, but from the long bus ride and the uneven terrain. Also, nothing may be removed from the site (no soil, plants, or debris). All recording devices are prohibited - so one can leave one's camera and cell phone behind - this is going to be an excursion without internet and Instagram pics. It is also not going to be a young family's excursion as children under the age of 14 are prohibited.

While on 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 Shoes Are Required For The Rugged Terrain
  • Prohibited Clothing: Shorts, Capris, And Sandals Are Prohibited
  • Age: All Visitors Must Be At Least 14 Years Old

Related: 20 Ways You Can Travel To Vegas Without Spending Any Money

Some of the points of interest along the tour are Mercury, Nevada, Frenchman Flat (site of the first detonation), Nonproliferation Test and Evaluation Complex, Icecap, Sedan Crater, T-1 Training Area, and others. See the craters left behind by these gigantic explosions and the devastation wrought on various structures built to test the effects of the blasts.

There is a whole list of prohibited items. The NNSS Lists them as:

  • Cameras, camcorders, or tape recorders
  • Binoculars or telescopes
  • Cell phones
  • Privately-owned laptop computers
  • Geiger counters or dosimeters not issued by the NNSS
  • Firearms, weapons, or explosives
  • Controlled substances or alcoholic beverages

This is an unusual but very interesting tour that would be interesting to do. Unfortunately, not everyone can enjoy it as the places are limited and there is a waiting list (tours have been suspended for now anyway). But if one can find a place when tours resume, then it will be a tour like none other.

Touring the NNSS is a solemn reminder of the destructive power humanity wields today and the madness that characterized the Cold War.

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