Walter De Maria, The Lightning Field

Western New Mexico

Overview

The Lightning Field (1977), by the American sculptor Walter De Maria, is a work of Land Art situated in a remote area of the high desert of western New Mexico. It is comprised of 400 polished stainless-steel poles installed in a grid array measuring one mile by one kilometer. The poles—two inches in diameter and averaging 20 feet, 7½ inches in height—are spaced 220 feet apart and have solid, pointed tips that define a horizontal plane. A sculpture to be walked in as well as viewed, The Lightning Field is intended to be experienced over an extended period of time. A full experience of The Lightning Field does not depend upon the occurrence of lightning, and visitors are encouraged to spend as much time as possible in the field, especially during sunset and sunrise. In order to provide this opportunity, Dia offers overnight visits during the months of May through October.

Commissioned and maintained by Dia Art Foundation, The Lightning Field exemplifies Dia’s commitment to supporting art projects whose nature and scale exceed the limits normally available within the traditional museum or gallery.

Dia Art Foundation also maintains three other Walter De Maria projects: The Broken Kilometer (1979) and The New York Earth Room (1977), both in New York City, as well as The Vertical Earth Kilometer (1977), in Kassel, Germany.

Art: The Lightning Field, 1977

Visitor Information

Walter De Maria’s The Lightning Field (1977) will be open from May 1 to October 31, 2023, for overnight visits by reservation only.

Booking for the 2023 visiting season will open at midnight (12 am) Mountain Standard Time (MST) on February 1, 2023. Please email reservations@lightningfield.org starting at that time to request a reservation. Reservation requests must be made in writing and cannot be made over the phone. In your email, please include the number of guests in your party (up to 6), a preferred date or available date range, and alternate dates if possible. Reservations are made on a first-come, first-served basis and are limited to one night per visiting group. Please refer to the following sections for more information.

Reservations are limited to one night per party and are for overnight stays only. New reservation requests for the 2023 visiting season may be submitted via email to reservations@lightningfield.org beginning on Wednesday morning, February 1, 2023, at midnight (12 am) Mountain Standard Time (MST). Phone requests are not accepted. Due to the remote nature of the site, children under five are not allowed. Day visits, camping and pets are not permitted.

Requests must include the number in the party, up to 6 guests, a preferred date, and several alternate dates or a date range. It is possible a preferred date will already be taken depending on where the initial request falls within the reservation queue. We do not have any way to determine which of the hundreds of emails sent at 12 am will end up at the top of the queue or further down. However, if we are unable to offer an initial reservation, we will send an offer to be placed on our waitlist for the 2023 season.

Once a date has been secured through our correspondence, we will send a reservation and payment link which must be completed within the time allotted to confirm the hold. Reservations are nonrefundable unless we are able to re-book the reserved spots. See Cancellations section for more information.

To ensure guest and staff safety during multi-group visits in 2023, the following policies are in place for all visitors:

All visitors must comply with New Mexico state, local, and federal COVID-19 regulations current at their time of travel. To preserve guest and staff safety, please protect yourself and others from COVID-19 with the following recommendations:

  • Remain up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines and boosters before you travel
  • Follow CDC recommendations for masking in travel and public transportation settings
  • Consider getting tested before travel as close to the time of departure as possible (no more than 3 days)

Additional information is available on the CDC website, accessible here.

If a guest must cancel a reservation due to a positive COVID-19 test, please notify us via email at reservations@lightningfield.org as soon as possible. Dia will refund the visitor fees upon receipt of proof of the positive test. No additional refunds for travel or other guest expenses will be provided.

A mask is required at all times when interreacting with Dia’s staff and in the Dia vehicle on the way to and from The Lightning Field. Dia reserves the right to cancel a reservation for any visitor who does not follow this requirement.

May, June, September, and October

$150 per person per night

July and August

$250 per person per night

Students and children under 18 (all months)

$100 per person per night (with proof of student status)

The actual cost of maintaining The Lightning Field and accommodating visits greatly exceeds visitor fees. Contributions toward the operating expenses of The Lightning Field are appreciated, and donations beyond the listed rates are tax-deductible. Scroll down to the Support The Lightning Field section to make a donation.

Once you have secured a date, you will receive an email with instructions for payment and confirmation. 

Your reservation is confirmed only upon our receipt of your reservation form and payment in full within five days of receiving your hold email. We cannot accept payment upon your arrival in Quemado, New Mexico. If you need to cancel a booking after you have submitted payment, please do so as soon as possible. We can refund you for your canceled visit only if we are able to re-book your visit date for another guest regardless of the reason for the cancellation.

The Lightning Field is located in a remote area in the high desert in Western New Mexico. Extreme weather events can occur that cause The Lightning Field to pause operations on short notice. Please be aware that there is a risk your visit may be cancelled on short notice if we cannot safely access the visitor cabin due to such events. If your visit is cancelled due to extreme weather, Dia can attempt to rebook you later in the season (though we cannot guarantee availability) or you can request a refund. No additional refund for cost of travel or other guest expenses will be provided.

The Lightning Field operations may be paused on short notice due to changes in COVID-19 regulations from New Mexico state, local, or federal governments or in the case of a known COVID-19 exposure among staff or visitors. If Dia pauses operations, the cost of your stay will be refunded, but no additional refund for cost of travel or other guest expenses will be provided.

In the event that a visitor must cancel their reservation due to reasons other than those stated above, please email reservations@lightningfield.org as soon as possible. Dia will make a good faith effort to rebook the visit with another party. If we can successfully rebook, visitor fees will be refunded to the original party. Please note that your reservation is non-refundable unless we can rebook your visit with a new party. If you need to cancel, notify us as soon as possible so we can begin this process.

A cabin adjacent to The Lightning Field provides shelter and simple meals during the stay and can accommodate up to six guests. Due to the remote nature of the site, children under five are not allowed.

A Dia staff driver will greet visitors at the Dia office in Quemado and transport them to and from the cabin at The Lightning Field for their reservation. The cabin has three bedrooms (two bedrooms with two twin beds each, and one bedroom with a double bed), two bathrooms, a kitchen, and a common room. Linens are provided. We have resumed hosting multiple groups per night for the 2023 visiting season. Visitors should keep in mind their comfort level with sharing kitchen and bathroom spaces when requesting a reservation. We do not reserve specific bedrooms for guests. 

A simple supper is prepared and left for our visitors in the refrigerator and a selection of breakfast items are provided to prepare the next morning. If guests have any special dietary requirements, they are asked to plan to bring supplemental food or beverages of their own, which may be prepared in the cabin kitchen. 

Visitors are asked to refrain from bringing loud electronic devices or anything that may disturb other visitors. Visits must be overnight, from May 1 to October 31, 2023. Camping and day visits are not permitted. Pets are not allowed. 

The Lightning Field is located in a very remote part of western New Mexico. Healthcare facilities are not available locally; the nearest hospitals are about a two-hour journey from the cabin location. There is no Wi-Fi or internet service at the cabin, and cellular service is extremely limited and spotty.

Dia provides transportation to The Lightning Field from Quemado, New Mexico, which is an approximately three-hour drive from Albuquerque. Please arrange to arrive in Quemado no later than 2 pm on the day of your visit and check in at Dia’s office in the white two-story building on the north side of the town’s main street. You will receive driving instructions upon confirmation of your reservation. There is no public transportation available between Albuquerque and Quemado. It is a forty-five-minute drive in our vehicle from Quemado to The Lightning Field; you may not take your own vehicle. You will be returned to Quemado at approximately noon the following day. Daytime trips and short visits cannot be accommodated. The Lightning Field may only be viewed through an overnight visit.

It is important to arrange your travel plans to meet this schedule, as off-schedule trips cannot be accommodated. If you will be arriving from Arizona, please note that Arizona does not observe Daylight Savings Time (DST), and so New Mexico time is one hour later than Arizona during the summer months. 

Please note that a face covering is required at all times when interacting with Dia’s staff.

Located in the high desert at an elevation of 7,200 feet, The Lightning Field is situated on a flat plain. Mornings and evenings can be cold; days are usually not warmer than 85 degrees. The terrain is generally flat but can be rough or muddy depending on weather conditions, and there are no improved trails. Visitors should be prepared to walk over flat but rough terrain and should bring at least one pair of sturdy walking shoes or boots, sunglasses, a sun hat, warm clothing, insect repellant, and a raincoat or windbreaker.

Although lightning storms typically occur in this area from mid-July through August and may also occur at other times during the visiting season, the probability of lightning during your visit cannot be predicted.

The Lightning Field is located in a very remote part of western New Mexico. Health care facilities are not available locally, with the nearest hospitals located about a two-hour journey from the cabin location. There is no Wi-Fi or internet service at the cabin, and cellular service is extremely limited and spotty. Please be prepared for a remote experience and carefully plan your communications, attire, and food supplies (if needed to supplement what is provided).

In keeping with the artist’s wishes, photography of The Lightning Field and the cabin is prohibited. The Lightning Field is protected by copyright. 

Images for educational use may be requested by contacting the Rights and Reproductions department at rights@diaart.org. Images of The Lightning Field may be published with written consent from Dia Art Foundation.

Please direct all inquiries regarding The Lightning Field not answered here to the following: 

Email: reservations@lightningfield.org

Telephone: 505 898 3335

Post: P.O. Box 7416, Albuquerque, NM 87194

Artist

Walter De Maria

Walter De Maria was born in Albany, California, in 1935. He died in Los Angeles in 2013.

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Support The Lightning Field

The Lightning Field (1977), by the American sculptor Walter De Maria, is a work of Land Art situated in a remote area of the high desert of western New Mexico. Commissioned and maintained by Dia Art Foundation, The Lightning Field is recognized internationally as one of the late-twentieth century's most significant works of art and exemplifies Dia's commitment to the support of art projects whose nature and scale exceed the limits normally available within the traditional museum or gallery.

The cost of maintaining The Lightning Field and accommodating visits greatly exceeds visitor fees. Contributions toward the operating expenses of The Lightning Field are appreciated, and are fully tax-deductible.

Support The Lightning Field

Books

Walter De Maria: The Lightning Field

Edited by Stephen Hoban, Alexis Lowry, and Jessica Morgan. Contributions by John Cliett, Walter De Maria, Robert Fosdick, and Jessica Morgan

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Photo: Don Stahl
Photo: Don Stahl

The Lightning Field Postcard Set

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