The National Criticality Experiments Research Center is a U.S. Government owned research center located at the NNSS. It is operated by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Nuclear Criticality Safety Program (NCSP).
|Device Assembly Facility
|Entry Guard Station
|Los Alamos National Laboratory
|National Criticality Experiments Research Center
|Nuclear Criticality Safety Program
|Nevada National Security Site
Visiting NCERC requires point-of-contact at LANL and a valid need.
Visits to NCERC require advanced coordination to arrange badging, dosimetry, and training. Before your visit, you will be contacted by NCERC personnel to collect the necessary personal information for badging and dosimetry. You will also be directed to complete training to access the DAF. If you have not been contacted by NCERC personnel at least a month before your visit, please notify your LANL point-of-contact.
Travel to Las Vegas
The closest airport is Las Vegas Harry Reid International Airport (airport code LAS).
Travel to NCERC from Las Vegas
Travel to and from the NNSS and NCERC are not provided. A personal or rental vehicle is required. Visitors may carpool if they wish.
Rental Car Information
The rental car facility is offsite from Harry Reid International Airport, so you will need to take a free shuttle. The shuttle picks up outside the doors of baggage claim, there are signs leading to the pick-up location.
Las Vegas has a plethora of hotels, entertainment, and dining options. Many of the hotels offer rates below government per diem, although some do charge add-on “resort fees”. Most hotels provide free parking, including free valet parking for guests. The travel time from your hotel to the DAF varies depending on where in Las Vegas you stay. Below are some commute estimates, this is for the early morning when there is little to no traffic. Expect the times to be longer on the trip back to Las Vegas, especially if you decide to stay on the Strip.
- Las Vegas Strip (Las Vegas Blvd.): Travel time to Mercury is ~75 min and to the DAF is ~100 min
- North Las Vegas: Travel time to Mercury is ~65 min and to the DAF is ~90 min
The NNSS does have dorm rooms available in Mercury. The rooms are standard motel-type rooms with internet access and cable TV. The Mercury cafeteria is the only option for onsite dining (cafeteria hours are listed below). With your badge, you can freely leave the site 24 hours a day and emergency medical services are available. Rooms are $50 per night. Email email@example.com if you wish to book a room at the dorms.
The NNSS cafeteria has the following hours:
- Breakfast (M-Th): 0530 – 0730
- Lunch (M-Th): 1045 – 1300
- Snack (M-Th): 1330 – 1530
- Dinner (M-W): 1645 – 1900
Travel to NNSS
Section 8 of this Visitor Guide includes maps of the NNSS, Mercury, Las Vegas (to locate the Nevada Support Facility), and of the Nevada Support Facility. Most digital maps will not provide directions from Las Vegas to Mercury, NV. You can look for directions to Indian Springs, NV, and continue on US-95 N through Indian Springs for ~19 miles to the Mercury highway exit. Take this exit, and you should see signs notifying you that you are entering the NNSS. The commute between Las Vegas and NNSS is quite long and has spotty cellular coverage, so plan accordingly. Monitor your fuel level during your commute, as no fuel is available after you leave Indian Springs. A best practice is never let you fuel level go below 1/3 of a tank of fuel available.
Indian Springs is a small town between Las Vegas and NNSS (across from Creech Air Force Base) and the speed limit drops from 70 to 45 mph. Many people visiting the NNSS have been pulled over for speeding through this town, so keep an eye on your speed.
NNSS Map (Mercury and the DAF)
Las Vegas (Shows Nevada Support Facility (NSF)
Nevada Support Facility
There is no cafeteria inside the DAF, so it is recommended that you bring your own lunch and snacks. Refrigerators and microwaves are available in the NCERC control room along with coffee makers and water stations.
The Mercury badge office (NNSS) is located on Mercury highway (take the Mercury exit from US-95 N). The badge office will be on your right, just before the guard station. An escort will meet you at the badge office to assist with badging and answer any questions. Please tell the badge office that you will be going to the DAF and require ARGUS setup. Upon completion at the badge office, you, or the escort, must call DAF Operations Control at 702-794-5387 and tell them the names of the people that are coming to the DAF.
You will need to bring your HSPD-12 for badging or a federally issued ID. Your point-of-contact will let you know if any additional documentation is required.
For uncleared visitors, please bring a copy of your Driver’s License and separate proof of US citizenship (Passport or Birth Certificate).
All computing devices that will be hand-carried to NCERC must be U.S. Government owned. They also must have all microphones, cameras, and wireless communication capabilities removed or disabled. If you intend to bring a computer and/or storage device to NCERC, please notify you point-of-contact in advance. They will arrange to have the computer inspected on your way to NCERC.
You will be asked daily if you have any prohibited articles by the guards at the first guard station. The following items are prohibited on the NNSS:
- Illicit drugs
- Stand-alone cameras
- Spotting scopes
Cellphones, including those with cameras, are allowed on the NNSS. You are not allowed to use your personal cellphone camera on the NNSS.
The following items are prohibited in the DAF:
- Weapons of any kind (includes knives)
- Key Fobs
- Cell phones (personal and government)
- Smart watches and fitness trackers
- Spark producing devices (Lighters)
- Personal computer equipment (including USB drives)
- Radiation Generating Device keys (XRS, Betatron, Neutron Generator)
All electronics being hand-carried into the DAF must be approved by NCERC personnel first.
As a best practice, minimize what you bring into the DAF. Double check your bags and pockets for prohibited items before attempting to come through the EGS. The accidental introduction of a prohibited item can significantly impact your visit. It is also a best practice to minimize the amount of metal you wear into the DAF. If you have items that are prohibited in the DAF, you can leave them in your vehicle or in one of the lock boxes outside the DAF EGS.
Other facilities where NCERC operates have different prohibited article requirements. If you are unsure if something is prohibited, please ask your point-of-contact or escort.
For most NCERC operations, you need to wear long pants, sturdy, close-toed shoes (tennis shoes, boots, or leather shoes) and safety glasses with side shields. Safety shoes are required inside the DAF. You are welcome to bring your own safety shoes, or NCERC will provide safety shoe covers. Keep in mind that steel-toed safety shoes must be removed when passing through the DAF EGS. You can also bring your own safety glasses with OSHA Z87.1 rating, or NCERC will provide a pair.
Buildings inside the DAF can have large variations in temperatures. Anywhere between 55⁰F and 80⁰F is possible. It is recommended that you dress in layers for your comfort. Also keep in mind that the temperature outside at the NNSS can be extreme.
Dosimetry may be required and will be provided when you arrive. Do not bring your dosimeter from another site. If required, you will be contacted to fill out forms associated with dosimetry in advance of your visit; if you have not received those forms, please reach out to one of the NCERC personnel.
Travel Onsite at NNSS
After the badge office, drive through the guard station on Mercury highway. Continue driving through Mercury Base Camp toward the forward areas. The DAF is a large white building that is ~25 mi (25 – 30 min) past Mercury that will be on your left. Unfortunately, the DAF access road is not well marked, so keep an eye out. If you are heading to another NCERC facility, please follow your escort or the directions provided by your point-of-contact.
The NNSS has many interesting sites scattered throughout the desert, but as a visitor, you are not allowed to drive around site seeing. Please only drive to and from the NCERC facility you are visiting. Do not attempt to drive off-road, and do not pick up anything on the site to take for a souvenir.
Obey all posted speed limits on the NNSS. The highways on the NNSS are patrolled by the Nye County Sheriff. They are authorized to issue citations for speeding.
There is also a lot of wildlife on the NNSS. Do not disrupt or feed any of the wildlife. If you happen to see a desert tortoise in the road, wait for it to cross (picking them up can cause them to urinate and dehydrate themselves).
If your visit to NCERC included measurements, tests, or other data collection activities, NCERC and the NCSP must be acknowledged as supporting the project.
Project funding provided by the NCSP
"This work was performed at the National Criticality Experiments Research Center. This work was supported by the DOE Nuclear Criticality Safety Program, funded and managed by the National Nuclear Security Administration for the Department of Energy."
Project funding not provided by the NCSP
"This work was performed at the National Criticality Experiments Research Center, operated for the DOE Nuclear Criticality Safety Program, funded and managed by the National Nuclear Security Administration for the Department of Energy."