Southern New Mexico Space Trail
Home Base: Sierra County New Mexico
Distance from downtown Truth or Consequences: 35 miles
Allow 3 hours for the tour
Depart from the Spaceport America Visitor Center
The world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, located on 18000 acres next to the White Sands Missile Range, has been designed to accommodate almost any aircraft in the world, meeting the specific needs of returning launch vehicles, fly-back rocket boosters and other space launch and training vehicles.
Paid tours to the Spaceport site are designed to highlight New Mexico history spanning from Spanish conquistadores and pioneer rocket research to the new commercial space industry.
Tours depart from the Spaceport America Visitor Center in Truth or Consequences and travel past the expansive concrete monolith of Elephant Butte Dam, after which the route coincides with the historic El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro trail—the Spanish ‘Royal Road’—that connected this region to Mexico City during much of the colonial period.
At the Spaceport, guests learn about the different components of the Spaceport America infrastructure, and why New Mexico is so ideally suited for space access. Interactive displays demonstrate concepts including zero gravity.
The tour includes updates on major players and trends in the emerging commercial space industry, along with predictions for new game-changing technologies like point-to-point transportation and space-based solar power. With so much happening in space every day—on-site and around the world—no two tours are ever quite the same.
Space Murals Museum
12450 US Hwy 70 East
Organ, NM 88052
Mon-Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 10am-6pm
Call for hours: 575-382-0977
The murals depict the progress of the US Space Program from the early flights of the X-15 to the fatal accident of the Challenger Space Shuttle.
White Sands Missile Range Museum
At the White Sands Missile Range Museum you can trace the origin of America’s missile and space activity, find out how the atomic age began, and learn about scientists like Dr. Wernher von Braun and Dr. Clyde Tombaugh. Missile Range Park is next to the Museum and contains numerous missiles and rockets.
White Sands National Monument
White Sands, one of the world’s natural wonders, is open year-round, offering 275 square miles of great glistening wavelike dunes to explore. Stay in your car for the 8-mile scenic drive, or get out and play on the gypsum sand, then check out the Visitors Center and browse the gift shops. Ranger-guided walks and moonlight tours are available in summer. Be sure to bring plenty of water and food if you plan to hike.
THE NEW MEXICO MUSEUM OF SPACE HISTORY
Round trip from downtown Truth or Consequences: 284 miles
Allow 8-10 hours if you’re returning to Sierra County
The Space History Museum in Alamogordo is home to the International Space Hall of Fame and is the designated repository for Spaceport America.
Attractions include the Clyde W. Tombaugh IMAX Dome Theater and Planetarium, the John P. Stapp Air / Space Park, Astronaut Memorial Garden, the Shuttle Camp Program, and the outdoor display of the restored Daisy Track, once used to test the human body’s tolerance to G-forces.
The Museum is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Days.
The Sunspot National Solar Observatory
The Sunspot Solar Observatory includes a Visitor Center, maps for self-guided tours, and upon arrangement, guided tours.
THE VERY LARGE ARRAY
Distance from downtown Truth or Consequences: 123 miles
Allow 6-8 hours if you’re returning to Truth or Consequences.
The VLA, located on the Plains of San Agustin, is open every day from 8:30am to sunset for free, self-guided tours of the VLA and the VLA Visitor Center. The VLA Gift Shop is open daily from 9am-4pm. The Gift Shop is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Years Day.
Frank T. Etscorn Observatory
A student-run observatory stocked with an impressive array of telescopes, the observatory is named after former Tech psychology professor Dr. Frank T. Etscorn (who also happened to invent the nicotine patch). Etscorn, an amateur astronomer, got the ball rolling by donating seed money in the early 1990s to purchase equipment for the Astronomy Club.
Trinity Site Historical Marker
Closed to the public except for the 1st Saturday of April & October
On July 16, 1945, Manhattan Project scientists detonated the world’s first atomic bomb in the Jornada del Muerto desert. On tour days you can drive to the site and walk around unescorted, or join a caravan from Alamogordo (approximately 145 miles round trip). You’ll want to get an early start, as the gates close at 2pm.
You’ll find directions to the site on the White Sands website, or check SierraCountyEvents.com for more info.
download a 3.5M pdf of the map below from the New Mexico Museum of Space History website