The U.S. Government operates a museum on the base just inside the gate. It is both indoor and outdoor: big missiles and exhibits outside and more informational stuff inside. They also have an original V2 rocket completely restored in a separate building along with the history of this historic missile from the end of WWII.
We decided it would be nice to drive in and have a picnic lunch at the park even though you can park outside the gate and walk in after getting a visitor pass. They just received new gate regulations 2 days before our visit and now everyone goes through a minor background check (10-20 mins) before they can enter the base.
The trail begins with a winding sidewalk to all the displays. In addition to the missiles, informational signs included more information about their use/purpose, when they were deployed, how many times they were test fired at White Sands (WS), range (if not still classified) and other historical information (this is what took me so long to get through).
My dad was in the US Air Force and I learned a lot from him. When I saw the Pershing II, I remembered when my dad explained why it was a big deal to the Russians (USSR) when we deployed these things in Turkey. He didn’t say it, but now I realize to them it must have been the equivalent to the Cuban Missile crisis to us, nuclear missiles practically on their border. Titan, Polaris, Redstone, Minuteman, so many names from the past. Many of these display brought back memories that I had long forgotten.
V2 German rocket parts were captured after WWII and assembled in the US. The rocket was a major stepping stone in our race to space. This one is, evidently, one of the most complete V2 rockets in existence. It had cool story boards about the German scientists that came with the V2 and helped develop rockets for space travel. It had cut-aways on the other side so you could see how all of the inner workings came together.
WS has also been testing for NASA (beyond just the military) and has tested re-entry rockets like those used for the latest Mars rover, the Curiosity. This “flying saucer” was used to test deceleration rockets for a lander.
Here’s a couple pictures from the inside displays, including a Stinger shoulder fired anti-aircraft missile:
The missile park was much bigger and contained a lot more references to my early memory than I expected. It was well worth the trip.