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Albuquerque Innsights

Former New Mexico innkeeper knows secrets and tells anyone who will listen.

New Mexico’s Lightning Field

There is a place in West Central New Mexico, west of Socorro and southwest of Grants, where lightning is art, or may be. The Lightning Field is a little know piece of New Mexico that is very intriguing.

In 1977, American sculptor Walter De Maria installed a work of art – Land Art – in a very secluded and remote area of New Mexico not too far from The Very Large Array, toward the towns of Pie Town and Datil. I have not been there yet, but we have had guests who headed out there. It comprises of an area, about 1 mile x 1 kilometer and 400 polished stainless steel poles set in a grid pattern at various heights. I always thought that viewing the lightening in the evening was the point, but I now understand that the artist intended the lightning fields to also be walked – experienced up close and from afar and over an extended time period. Apparently the appearance of lightning is rare.

You must do an overnight visit to the Lightning Field and advanced reservations are necessary but are not taken until after March 1. There is a rustic cabin next to the Lightning Field, and simple meals are be provided because to are in a remote area and are expected to make the fields the focus of your visit, not to mention that there is no where else to go.  You don’t drive to the Lightning Field, you report to a place in Quemado, NM and are driven there to be picked up the next day. Quemado is about 3-3 1/2 hours from Albuquerque, and the Lightning Field is about 45 minute into the wild from there.

July and August are high season at the Lightning Field, and if this is because many folks take vacations then, or because that is when lightning is more likely to occur is up for debate. There is no guarantee that lightning will occur during your visit, no matter when it is, but the Lightning Field is destined to be a place you won’t soon forget, lightning or not. For a better chance at experiencing the lightning, I believe that July and August have more storms of this type than any other time of year in New Mexico. That is when I would choose to go, and I will one of these days. Who wants to go with me?

Other things to do in that part of the state:
The Very Large Array – large radio telescopes for miles and miles, as seen in the movie Contact
Go to Pie Town for some…PIE! Yup – they’ve got it.
El Morro National Monument and the ancient graffiti at Inscription Rock
Ice Cave and Bandera Crater – this really is a cool place, don’t skip it!
El Malpais National Monument – although named “badlands” this is an area of spectacular beauty.

I know the best things to do in Albuquerque!
Sarah Dolk, Adobe Nido Bed & Breakfast
Expert on Destination Albuquerque and Central New Mexico!

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2 Responses to “New Mexico’s Lightning Field”

  1. Barbara Bloomberg says:


    How does one go about making a reservation for the Lightening Fields?
    How much does it cost to stay overnight? Who provides the meals or do we bring our own?

    Thank you,

    Barbara Bloomberg

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copyright 2009 :: sarah dolk, adobe nido bed and breakfast, albuquerque nm :: photos by susan see, abq, nm & marianne groszko, mariannephotography.net