NRA Whittington Center

This was my big surprise of the day.  As I approached the eastern end of my scenic drive, about 85 miles east of Taos near the town of Raton, NM, I saw the entrance for this facility.


I drove down the flag-lined entrance road (flags representing each of the 50 states)


Once inside the Visitor Center I was soon greeted by a young man named Greg.  He told me about the facility and told me I was free to look around and take pictures.  He said to be sure to go through the museum.

The Whittington Center, named for a former president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), is a non-profit enterprise and is not actually owned or operated by the NRA.  They get their funds from donations, membership fees, facility entry fees (I could have paid to go out on the shooting range) and contest fees.  This 30,000+ acre facility is the largest of it’s kind in the United States.  They have over 15 shooting ranges (the largest over 2 miles long!), as well as cabins, an RV park, primitive campsites, a cafeteria, and lots of other buildings.  They host numerous competitions throughout the year and have professionals on staff who train people (average folks as well as law enforcement officers) in the safe and proper use of firearms, as well as defense tactics and precision shooting skills.  They also have organized “hunts” on the property.

Greg rattled off all kinds of various firearm types as well as the numerous competitions for specific skills.  I’m not very knowledgeable about such things but it was fascinating to listen to and he is obviously very passionate about it.


Following Greg’s advice I went through the museum.  Again, not being a gun person myself it was kind of lost on me but I’m sure an enthusiast would get a lot more out of it.




And it’s not all about guns.  This knife has an affadavit behind it which explains it’s significance.  It was given to the gentleman for which this facility is named by a legendary “Mountain Man” named Ben Lilley, one of the last of his kind.


There were two other guys walking through the museum and I asked them if they were allowed to bring one thing home with them, what would it be?  After a second or two of thought they both said “the Gatling Gun”.  I didn’t want to show my ignorance by not knowing what that was but tracked Greg down and asked him.  He said “well, they’d have trouble getting it out the front doors…”.  This is the Gatling Gun:


Here is Greg (on the left) and his co-worker Bryan.  Greg only took up shooting about a year ago.  Bryan likes to “bench shoot,” which is trying to put multiple bullets through the first bullet hole he makes in a target.  He does this with the target at 100, 200 and 300 yards away (that’s 1, 2 and 3 football fields, folks…).  I want these guys on my team.


Oh, and they’re having a raffle!  You could win this Ruger AR-556 with bipod, plus the Leupold Mark 6 1-6×20 scope.  Given my luck with r/c helicopter raffles I should have bought tickets.  I don’t know exactly what I’d do with it if I won, but living in Durham, North Carolina these days it just might come in handy.  I don’t know when the drawing is but if you’re interested call Greg and I’m sure he could hook you up with tickets.


Meow Wolf – Kaleidoscope

This was set up in a room I went through soon after entering the “house”.  It was looking at a dish of seashells.  As you moved the dish ever so slightly, the images changed.  I had seen something like this at a botanical garden in Oklahoma City earlier this year (pre-blog).  It used various tiny plants as the thing being observed.








Meow Wolf – Refrigerator

Once I knew the trick about the refrigerator I stood back with my camera ready and captured this sequence of three people being surprised by a group of people (a total of 6, I think) coming out of it.  It starts with our unsuspecting victims reading the note on the door….







Meow Wolf – Various

Here are more of the bizarre things I saw while at Meow Wolf:




When you went in the Refrigerator you went through a white tunnel and ended up in a futuristic room with Star Trek like doors.  There was a projected image of a woman in white who guided you through various areas you could visit.  You placed your hand on the panel and the doors would whoosh open.




These guys were laying almost on their backs, operating a steering wheel and projecting colors on a screen high above.






This white mouse appears on a video screen behind the round running cage.  Although the two events are unrelated, the cage spins at various speeds as though the mouse were inside, propelling it.



Kind of hard to tell from the blurry photo but the floor in the upstairs bathroom was uneven and things were at odd angles.  I didn’t try climbing in the toilet to see where I might end up (I think I already know…).


This was a room where everything, floor/walls/ceiling/items on a table were black and white (and in incredible detail).  No tricks, no colored lights.  Just different.


Two of the men in white lab coats, conspiring against us and plotting new rooms, perhaps…


The guy on the right was the one I asked if there was something people typically missed.  He asked me what things I had already seen, then took me to the laser-organ room.

There, a triangular structure in the center of the darkened room had a series of laser beams which went from floor to ceiling.  As you broke each light beam with your hand, arm, or whatever (remember, there are young children present!…) musical notes would play, a different note for each beam of light.



Another black and white room, this one upstairs, set up as a small eat-in kitchen.



And finally, the aquarium, which had lots of primary-colored fish and one big black one.  They were all real fish, very much alive.