Icecap Ground Zero – Nye County, Nevada - Atlas Obscura

Icecap Ground Zero

Nevada National Security Site

A facility built in 1992 for an underground nuclear test remains in place today. 


The test called for a nuclear device to be detonated 1,600 feet underground in conditions simulating an extra-terrestrial environment. A trunk of cables and gas blocks allowed data to be reported to the trailers surrounding the tower. It has sat since the early 90s at the former Nevada Test Site.

Located inside the shot tower is a heavy steel component suspended above the shaft called a “rack.” The racks that held nuclear devices for line-of-sight testing were usually fabricated at Los Alamos and transported to Nevada. The device would be lowered underground for detonation. These massive trunks of cables ran to data recording instruments outside (these were the pre-fiber optic days).

The nuclear device of course isn’t here, but much of the hardware was left in situ should it ever be needed. The measuring instruments were housed in truck trailers, which also remain at their stations today. The Atomic Testing Museum in nearby Las Vegas has a great model of this same site.

Know Before You Go

This site is at the Nevada National Security Site, which is a restricted area. Public tours are facilitated through the Department of Energy (DOE) field office in North Las Vegas. Do not try to enter the site without authorization. 

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