18 votes

The Very Large Array - Visitors Center

Old Highway 60 Socorro, Socorro, New Mexico 87825 USA

Free to Visit
Open Now
Thu 8:30a-7p
  • Independent
  • Credit Cards
  • Wheelchair
  • Public
  • Outdoor

“The Atacama Large Millimeter Array”

One of the world's premier astronomical radio observatories, consisting of 27 radio antennas in a Y-shaped configuration on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, New Mexico. Each antenna is 25 meters in diameter. The data from the antennas is combined electronically to give the resolution of an antenna 36km across. The Atacama Large Millimeter Array, or Very Large Array (VLA), is an international collaboration to develop a world-class telescope composed of a group of 64 radio-telescope antennas that will work together to study the universe from a site in the foothills of Chile's Andes Mountains. The VLA location in the Atacama Desert is one of the highest, driest places on Earth, making it ideal for astronomical research at millimeter wavelengths, which are absorbed by atmospheric moisture. The VLA is open every day from 8:30 AM to sunset for free, self guided tours of the VLA and the VLA Visitor Center.  The VLA Gift Shop is open daily 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The Gift Shop is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve and New Years Day. Leashed pets are welcome on walking tours.  The VLA hosts FREE, 30 minute, Guided Tours on the first Saturday of each month at 11:00a.m., 1:00p.m., and 3:00p.m. No reservations required, simply show up at the VLA Visitor Center 15 or so minutes before the desired tour time. These FREE tours last 30 minutes and take the Visitor to areas behind the scenes at the VLA. In addition, family friendly, hands-on activities are offered from 11:00a.m. thru 3:00p.m. VLA Staff and Volunteers lead these activities and are on hand to answer questions. As seen in many movies (most noticeably Contact & Transformers)

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Reviewed by
James Fisher

  • Road Warrior
  • 523 Reviews
  • 402 Helpful
June 22, 2014
Rated 5.0

We came across this by accident while heading from Texas to Phoenix. We saw the sign on the Highway and were very excited about it. The place was AMAZING. you can walk right up to one, and they moved while we were there! The gift shop is cool too, we got several fun items, and the people were very friendly to us!

5 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 4 Reviews
  • 3 Helpful
June 02, 2014

well worth it! and it's free! great information in the self playing movie. they offer guided tour on sat. but we went on a self guided walk and it was fine.

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Joel Schat

  • Photographer
  • 238 Reviews
  • 448 Helpful
April 10, 2014

This place is INSANE! The array is absolutely massive and you can see it from so far away! Once you get up close to one of the antenna as well you can see just how large they are!

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Tatiana Danger

  • Road Warrior
  • 1,169 Reviews
  • 702 Helpful
July 12, 2014
Rated 4.0

You may remember the radio astronomy observatory from like every movie where we make contact with aliens. It’s a totally rad road trip stop right in the desert.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • Road Warrior
  • 17 Reviews
  • 18 Helpful
July 02, 2014

We didn't stop as we were in a hurry, but these could be seen from the highway because they are huge and plentiful. Wow!

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Mark H

  • 27 Reviews
  • 4 Helpful
November 24, 2017
Rated 5.0

Definitely worth driving out in the middle of nowhere for. There is actually a $6 admission fee for the walking tour, but the gift shop was closed, so it was a freebie day for me. Plenty of great photo ops.

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Reviewed by

  • 2 Reviews
  • 2 Helpful
September 27, 2017
Rated 5.0

Very cool place to go for everyone, not just science geeks. Aside from the array, the surrounding countryside and drive is beautiful.

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Reviewed by

  • 3 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
June 20, 2016
Rated 5.0

Very cool worthwhile spot to stop. Plan to spend an hour there and take the walking tour! Amazing piece of U.S. Ingenuity!!!!

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Reviewed by

  • 14 Reviews
  • 3 Helpful
February 18, 2016

You can see it from road which was good for us. My geeky kid thought it was cool.

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The Very Large Array - Visitors Center

Old Highway 60 Socorro
Socorro, New Mexico
87825 USA


Open now until 7:00 pm
  • Sun - Sat: 8:30 am - 7:00 pm

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  • Independent
  • Credit Cards Accepted
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Public Restrooms
  • Outdoor Seating
  • No Wifi
  • Street Parking
  • Private Parking
  • Yes Parking

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