Basin And Range

basin and range national monument, nevada


Conflicts over use of Nevada’s Garden Valley is the location of Michael Heizer’s land art project, City, led to the region being designated a National Monument.


Michael Heizer is an artist known for his creation of large works of ‘land art’, typically sculptures, or ‘negative sculptures’ created by displacing large amounts of dirt and stone and left on location, primarily in desert regions of the American Southwest.

Started in 1972, Heizer’s project, known as City, covers an area nearly 1.5 miles long and a quarter of a mile wide in Nevada’s Garden Valley. However, over that time, the federal government has eyed Garden Valley, and neighboring Coal Valley, as a possible transportation corridor for spent nuclear and radioactive waste being moved by railroad to a repository in Yucca Valley. Heizer, nearing completion of City after 44 years adjacent to his ranch, has promised to demolish the land art project if the railroad line was constructed.

Working in conjunction with several art museums, Nevada Senator Harry Reid in 2014 introduced a bill that would preserve over 805,000 acres in the area, thereby preventing the region’s use as a transportation corridor for the nuclear waste. In 2015, the area was designated the Basin And Range National Monument.

Due to its secluded location, very few photographs exist of City. These were taken after scaling a mountain 2.5 miles away from Heizer’s ranch and land art project. On this day, wind blew storm clouds across the landscape which erupted in cloud bursts of rain sporadically, while below, bulldozers stirred up dust while moving across the southern end of the City project.

Fossils and wild flowers line the top of the mountain. Over the course of the day, we saw a single other vehicle driving across the dirt road that stretches across the valley. The movement of the bulldozers in the distance combined with the shadows drifting over the valley floor were soothingly hypnotizing.

City is not complete and not open to the public. However Heizer has several other land art projects which can be visited, for those willing to make the drive.


(you can view larger versions of the images or purchase archival prints or digital images by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page.)


michael heizer's city land art project in nevada's garden valley

City; southern end


michael heizer's  The City land art project in nevada's basin and range national monument

City; northern end


Michael Heizer's The City, a land art project in the Nevada Desert.

City under active construction


nevada fossil

mountaintop fossils



overlooking Nevada’s Garden Valley


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David Delve
20:36 April 28, 2017

I was doing a Google Map’s search looking for earth work of old mines, towns and graveyards. I’m planning a trip this June from Rachel into the Worthington Mountains Wildness area and found all sorts of interesting places to see. The west side has targets but the east side offered up little but the Post Office at Freiburg and some old site that merit a closer look. Panning NE the works of Mr. Heizers City drew my attention and I zoomed in… Wow, I have read all I can find for the better part of a day researching this work. I love it. I was saddened to hear the public is not welcome nor are visits. The completion date is long past and someone isn’t getting any younger. None the less this place has a serenity about it the reminds me of David Best Temples at Burning Man. Not so much the design but the peaceful and spiritual side of the work and the desert. The City looks peacefully and tranquil. I live in a busy noisy world and life building and commissioning large petrochemical projects. It’s a rarity that I can turn it off and allow the time to slow down. Looking at the pictures of The City has this effect of time slowing down. I would love to see this place and spend some time on the berm just looking… and thinking of nothing. The air for some reason is different in the desert. Came here from Wikipedia thank for your site, you have a great eye

    22:24 May 23, 2017

    Hey David - if you want to escape the noise of the city, rural Nevada is definitely the place to do that at! The isolation here was definitely palpable, although the irony is that if/when The City is finally opened, it will have created an attraction in an area that was otherwise almost completely overlooked by most. It's definitely not as large a project, but I recently visited Heizer's Double Negative project, also in the center of a largely population-less area of Nevada. If you can apply the directions to the dozens of trails branching out in all directions on the mesa where it's located, this is open for public visitation. Thanks for the kind words. Good to hear from others with a penchant for taking google maps and scrolling in search of interesting items as well!

03:08 November 11, 2017

Hi David, I liked your report. What mountain did you climb to take the pictures. I really like the fossils you found. Very cool.

20:15 August 14, 2018

I noticed City from an airplane, on my way from Dallas to San Jose, and thought, "What the hell is that?!" When I got home, I searched for it on Google Maps satellite view, and finally found it, eventually figuring out what it was through some searching. Seems fascinating... once it's open, I will have to visit.

Robert Schneider
04:33 January 11, 2019

In 1983 I played a high school basketball game in Alamo, Nevada. Against the Pahranagat Valley Panthers. We were the White Pine County Bobcats, from Ely. I can still see Stevie Romero passing me the ball for a pull-up jumper from the right shoulder of the key. Twenty miles away from that game, in the desert, Robert Heizer was 12 years into a work that is ongoing to this day, and I never knew of its existence. What were you unaware of in your childhood? My most formative years were spent criss-crossing Nevada from 1971-1985. The existence of City is simultaneously a miracle and a blow to epistemology: how little we know about what is going on around us. I'd love to visit.


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