US-60: Pie Town and the Lightning Field
A long way south of Grants, an old mining camp was so famous for fine desserts it became known as Pie Town. After many years of pielessness, local meringue-lovers lucked out when baker Kathy Knapp opened the Pie-O-Neer Cafe (575/772-2711, closed Mon.-Wed.), on old US-60 at milepost 59.
East of Pie Town off US-60, more than 20 miles outside Quemado (the next “town” to the west), the Lightning Field (505/898-3335, May-Oct.) is an outdoor “land art” installation by the late great Walter De Maria, who implanted a grid of steel tubes into the high-elevation (7,200 feet above sea level) New Mexico plain with the intention of attracting lightning strikes. The sculpture consists of 400 stainless steel poles, ranging in height from 16 to 27 feet, placed 200 feet apart in a rectangular grid that is roughly one mile by one kilometer. The engineering feat here was to set the poles so that their tops form an exactly level plane. Despite the name, the experience is meant to be about contemplation, rather than spectacle; casual visitors are not allowed, and for the full Lightning Field experience you have to stay overnight in a nearby cabin, and meals and transportation to the site are included in the $150-250 per person fees. The Lightning Field is maintained by the same foundation that curates the intriguing Dia-Beacon museum, north of New York City.