The Jornada del Muerto (the modern idiom for the Medieval Spanish would be “Dead Man‘s Route”) was not always unvisited. For two hundred years after the first permanent Spanish settlement in 1598, most of the movement along the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro between Mexico City and the interior of Nuevo Mexico passed through the valley just to the west of this lava flow. Today it is about as remote as any place in New Mexico. It lies on the western edge of the White Sands Missile Range and was illuminated in 1945 by the world’s first atomic explosion in the valley to the immediate east.
The New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs is pleased to announce that the state’s eight museums (including this one) and seven of its historic sites will reopen to the public at 10 a.m. on Thursday, September 24, 2020. These facilities, which closed on March 16, 2020, may resume operation at 25% of normal capacity under the state’s current Public Health Order.