It never ceases to amaze when we're sometimes in a position to observe this lands great vastness as we explore the west. There we were not 24 hours earlier, sitting at our campsite in Oliver Lee State Park, looking to the southwest and being able to see over 80 miles through our binoculars. Then, to actually drive that same area the next day seeing almost everything we had seen the day before from the comfort of our camp chairs. It is hard to describe the absolute openness of a place like this. If ever the chance presents itself to experience it, take it.
Great camp spot in Aguirre Springs BLM campground.
The one thing we couldn’t see from a distance was any hint of the White Sands Missile Range Museum. But after an hour or so of driving when we departed, we passed right by the entrance on our way to our next overnight camping area. It would be our first BLM camping area called Aguirre Springs BLM Campground.
The BLM campground is owned and operated by the Bureau of Land Management. These campgrounds are usually similar to National Forest Campgrounds in that they provide certain facilities for a reasonable daily fee. They usually have a camp host and the rules and guidelines are about the same. This particular campground gave us a great place to stay overnight in a very cool location tucked into the base of a small range of Mountains. The goal here was to use this spot as a place where we could push off the next day, visit the Missile Museum (just 10 miles away) then proceed to our next destination.
And so it was, after a nice quiet night, we ventured the next day to the White Sands Missile Museum. The museum is located at an Army (it may be joint use) facility and we were not allowed on base with our vehicle. Arriving at the visitor center right next to the gate, we parked our rig and had to accomplish a background check that took all of 15 minutes. If your vanity requires you to wear a hat or other items that might impede the facial recognition process, you won’t be allowed to proceed. So it was off with my hat and sunglasses. Once approved, you’re given a quick briefing on what you can photograph, and in what direction. A sidewalk leads you through the main gate, the museum is a short walk once inside.
Click on photos to enlarge.
All of the missiles at the museum were either designed and/or tested at this particular missile range. I was not able to photograph the missile range itself, but it is impressive in size. Back in the day when I owned and operated a small model rocket company, I kitted a few of these rockets. The V2 display was along side the museum "park" and had it's own building to help preserve the V2.
Basically, no photos of the gate are allowed, no photos of the missile range itself or any photos of any facilities of the base. (Do these guys not know about google earth?) What a great facility! Most of the missiles that were either developed and/or tested there are on display. There is even a special building set aside for the German V2 rocket. Lots of information as to how the German V2 was brought to this country after WWII along with a group of scientists including Werner Von Braun, under Operation Paperclip. To keep this blog post short, I’ll let the photos do most of the talking. Enjoy! Next up? Well, let's just say there’ll be a large array of topics, and maybe some pie!
Hot Springs, SD. Planning on heading over to Wind Cave National Park after lunch. Visited The Mammoth Site yesterday. That will be fun to blog about. We plan on heading north tomorrow through Rapid City, Deadwood and Lead.
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