How To Visit the Nevada Test Site

Tour the Nevada National Security Site

Operation Teapot's Wasp Prime was an air-dropped nuclear device at Nevada Test Site March 29, 1955.
Operation Teapot's Wasp Prime was an air-dropped nuclear device that exploded at the Nevada Test Site on March 29, 1955. I don't think hiding behind a joshua tree conferred much protection. Photo courtesy of National Nuclear Security Administration / Nevada Site Office

The Nevada Test Site is the location where the United States conducting atomic testing. Did you know you can visit the Nevada Test Site, formerly called the Nevada Proving Grounds and now known as the Nevada National Security Site? Here is how to take the tour.

Get on the List!

The Nevada Test Site is located about 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada on US-95, but you can't just drive up to the facility and look around! Public tours are conducted only four times a year, with specific dates determined a few months in advance. The size of the tour group is limited, so there is a waiting list. If you want to take the tour, the first step is to call the Office of Public Affairs to get your name on the waiting list for the tour. In order to get accepted for the tour, you must be at least 14 years old (accompanied by an adult if you are under 18). When you make a reservation, you need to supply the following information:

  • full name
  • date of birth
  • place of birth
  • Social Security number

Although I was told the tours are determined only a few days/weeks beforehand, I was given the exact date for the next tour, several months in advance. Keep in mind the date may change if the weather isn't cooperative, so it's good to build a little flexibility into your schedule.

What To Expect

Once you register for a tour, you'll get an email confirmation of your reservation. A couple of weeks before the visit, you'll get a packet in the mail that includes an itinerary for the trip.

  • The tour is FREE.
  • Radiation badges are no longer used. In order to get badged for security, you will need to present a driver's license or valid passport (foreign nationals) upon arrival.
  • Expect a full day of activities. Visitors meet in Las Vegas to board a tour bus at 7 am, returning to Las Vegas at 4:30 pm.
  • You'll need to pack a lunch.
  • Dress appropriately. Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes. You will not be allowed to take the tour if you are wearing shorts, a skirt or sandals! Las Vegas is (very) hot in the summer and (very) cold in the winter, with temperatures ranging anywhere in between the extremes. Consider the season when packing for the trip.
  • You cannot bring in any recording devices or electronics of any kind. Do not bring a cell phone, camera, binocular, recorder, etc. Mandatory checks are conducted. If you are caught with a recording device, you'll get thrown us and the whole tour group will be returned to Las Vegas.
  • No firearms are permitted.

I was given a coupon for a discount on a ticket at the Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas. The discount is only good for the day after the tour, so if you're interested in checking out the museum, that may be useful for you to know.

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