Walter De Maria, The Lightning Field

Western New Mexico

Tall silver poles sticking up out of a grassy landscape, with purple storm clouds in the sky.

Walter De Maria, The Lightning Field, 1977. © Estate of Walter De Maria. Photo: John Cliett

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 to overnight visits by reservation only from May 1 to October 31, 2022. To ensure the safety of our guests and staff, COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements are in place for all visitors. See the COVID-19 Policies section below for full information.

Booking for the 2022 visiting season will open at midnight Mountain Standard Time (MST) on February 1, 2022. Email reservations@lightningfield.org to request a reservation. Reservation requests must be made in writing and cannot be made over the phone. In your email, include the number of guests in your party, a preferred reservation date, and several alternate reservation dates. 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.

 

Dia will be re-booking visits that were canceled during the 2020 visiting season as well as accepting a limited number of new reservations for 2022.

New reservation requests for the 2022 visiting season may be submitted via email to reservations@lightningfield.org beginning on February 1, 2022, at midnight Mountain Standard Time (MST). Requests received earlier than 12 am MST will be automatically rejected. Phone requests are not accepted.

Requests should include the number in the party, a preferred date, and several alternate dates or a date range, as it is possible that 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 emails of the hundreds sent at 12 am will end up at the top of the queue or further down. 

The cabin accommodates up to six guests (three bedrooms and two baths). Visitors may request one to six spots for their reservation. Reservations are limited to one night per party and require that all guests aged five and over be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in addition to submitting required COVID-19 test results (see COVID-19 Policies section for full information). Dia reserves the right to ask for proof of vaccination, test results, and compliance with masking and social distancing guidelines, and Dia reserves the right to cancel a reservation if these requirements are not followed. Day visits are not permitted.

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.

To ensure guest and staff safety during multi-group visits in 2022, the following policies are in place for all visitors:

All visitors aged five and over must be fully vaccinated at the time of their visit. Visitors must provide proof of full vaccination status at least fourteen days before their scheduled date of visit via email to reservations@lightningfield.org in order to validate their reservation. Fully vaccinated means that each guest must show proof of having received both doses of a one- or two-shot vaccine and a booster shot in accordance with CDC guidelines on booster eligibility windows (two months for a one-dose shot; six months for a two-dose shot). Proof of full vaccination status means documentation provided by a tribal, federal, state, or local government or a health care provider that includes an individual’s name, date of birth, type of COVID-19 vaccination given, date or dates given, and the name/location of the healthcare provider or site where the vaccine was administered. Documentation may include, but is not limited to, a CDC COVID-19 vaccination record card or a copy or digital picture of the vaccination record card.

All visitors must submit a negative COVID-19 test immediately preceding their scheduled visit. Proof of a negative COVID-19 test must be submitted to Dia at reservations@lightningfield.org by the morning of the scheduled visit at the latest. Tests must be taken within the three days before the date of the scheduled visit. If proof is not submitted, Dia reserves the right to cancel the reservation.

If vaccination status is not confirmed, if any member of the group has a known exposure to COVID-19 or positive COVID-19 test result preceding their visit within a time frame that could cause risk of exposure to other guests or staff, or if proof of a negative COVID-19 test is not submitted for each guest, Dia reserves the right to cancel the reservation.

A face covering is required at all times when interacting with Dia’s staff. We ask that visitors follow masking and social distancing guidelines while in common areas of the visitor cabin.

All visitors must comply with state, local, and federal COVID-19 regulations current at their time of travel.

The Lightning Field is located in a very remote part of western New Mexico. Healthcare 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.

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 operations may be paused on short notice due to changes in regulations from state, local, or federal governments; in the case of a known COVID-19 exposure or case among staff or visitors; or in the case of a change of the course or risk of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the case that Dia pauses operations, the cost of your stay will be refunded to you, but no additional refund for cost of travel or other guest expenses will be provided.

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

In the event that Dia must cancel a reservation due to a positive COVID-19 test submitted by a visitor before their visit, 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.

In the event that Dia must cancel a reservation due to non-submission of required vaccination or negative COVID-19 test documentation, visitor fees will not be refunded.

In the event that a visitor must cancel their reservation due to any other reason than those stated above, Dia will make a good faith effort to re-book their visit with another guest party. If Dia can successfully re-book the visit, visitor fees will be refunded to the original party. Please notify us via email at reservations@lightningfield.org as soon as possible if you need to cancel a reservation so we can begin this process.

A cabin adjacent to The Lightning Field provides shelter and simple meals during your stay. Six people maximum may stay in the cabin per night. The cabin has three bedrooms (one with a double bed and two with twin beds), two bathrooms, a kitchen, and a common room. Linens are provided. In conjunction with COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements, we will resume hosting multiple groups per night during the 2022 visiting season. Please keep in mind your comfort level with sharing kitchen and bathroom space when requesting a reservation. We do not reserve specific bedrooms for guests. 

Due to the remote nature of the site, children under five are not allowed. Please refrain from bringing loud electronic devices or anything that may disturb other visitors. Visits must be overnight. Camping is not permitted. Pets are not allowed. 

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

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

<p>Photo: Don Stahl</p>

Photo: Don Stahl

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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