This New Las Vegas Adjacent Attraction Was 50 Years In The Making

by joeheg

Nevada has a lot of things to offer. Hoover Dam. Lake Tahoe. Reno. And, of course, Las Vegas. And now something completely different, that took 5 decades to finish.

In 1970, Michael Heizer started building his art installation called “City” in the Nevada desert. In September 2022, over 50 years after its start, visitors can now visit this massive complex.

And massive is the only word to describe it.

City has been described as quite possibly the largest contemporary artwork on the planet, stretching more than a mile and a half long and half a mile wide, evoking the scale of ancient sites like Native American mounds, Mesoamerican metropolises and Egyptian devotional complexes. It is situated in the remote Basin and Range National Monument in central eastern Nevada, within the ancestral lands of the ​​Nuwu (Southern Paiute) and Newe (Western Shoshoni), around 160 miles north of Las Vegas.

a group of concrete structures in a desert

45°, 90°, 180°, City © Michael Heizer. Courtesy of Triple Aught Foundation. Photo: Ben Blackwell

This is not an attraction you can visit on a whim. Visitors are only allowed on a limited basis and all spots for 2022 are already filled.

Visitation for 2022 has officially closed, but we encourage you to reapply next year. The Triple Aught Foundation will begin to accept reservations for the 2023 season on January 2, 2023, at 12:01am PST. Reservations will be accepted through the Triple Aught Foundation website at that time. Visitors will be accommodated on a first come, first serve basis. Only short day-trips will be possible for a maximum of six visitors ages 16 and over, with prior reservations only, and only in favorable weather. City is on private property in rural terrain, and it has no habitable structures. Visiting without a pre-arranged visit is thus potentially dangerous, and it is strictly prohibited and is trespassing. The price of a visit is $150/adult, $100/student, and is free (but with reservations still required) for residents of Lincoln, Nye, and White Pine, Nevada, counties.

There’s no doubt that this location is remote. Only those with reservations should consider a visit.

a aerial view of a dirt track

City, 1970 –2022 © Michael Heizer. Courtesy Triple Aught Foundation. Photo: Eric Piasecki

I still can’t help but think that this would be a fascinating place to visit. It took 50 years to transform the Nevada desert into a monument. But what is a monument to?

In 2015, the US Government declared the City and the area surrounding it, 704,000 acres in total, as the Basin and Range National Monument. Its closest larger city is Las Vegas. And while the project was started by one man, the City is now owned and operated by the Triple Aught Foundation.

Currently, only six people per day can visit the site.

Is it the largest sandbox in the world or does it mean something more? It reminds me of The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston as Moses building a city in the desert for Pharoah. But there’s no ruler here so what is this a temple to or for?

I guess that is what art is supposed to do. Force us to make our own opinions.

Feature Photo: Basin & Range National Monument (cropped) / Bureau of Land Management / flickr / CC BY 2.0

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