Today's Las Vegas is lighted by neon and LCD, but during the Cold War, uranium and plutonium illuminated the area from time to time as well in the form of a roiling mushroom cloud in the distance. This museum, in association with the Smithsonian, commemorates southern Nevada's long and fascinating history of nuclear weapons research and testing with film footage and photographs of mushroom clouds; testimonials; and artifacts (including a deactivated bomb, twisted chunks of steel, and bomb-testing machinery from the Nevada Test Site).
Nevada National Security Site. Group tours of the 1,375-square-mile Nevada National Security Site—an area that is larger than the state of Rhode Island and used to be the spot in the desert where the government tested atomic bombs—take you onto the terrain for visits to test-site craters and observation points. The site is 65 miles northwest of Downtown, and each tour usually covers a total of 250 miles. Tours leave from the Atomic Testing Museum; both sites are included with the price of admission. To register for a tour, contact the Nevada office of the National Nuclear Security Administration. And be warned: Tours book up to a year in advance. 702/295–0944, www.nv.doe.gov/outreach/tours.aspx.