Located in Nevada, about 80 miles northwest of Las Vegas, there is a large parcel of land owned by the US government popularly known as Area 51. The strict confidentiality and overall mystique of this top-secret location, which dates back to the 1950s, is a draw for many people every year. While unauthorized visitors are restricted from breaching the perimeter, Area 51 still attracts hundreds of visitors eager to catch a glimpse of the boundary between civilization and this highly-classified government facility. If you want to make the trek to this desolate desert estate, check out our roadtripper's guide to Area 51 and the surrounding areas!
About Area 51
Since its existence was denied for decades, few conclusive facts are known about Area 51. In fact, it wasn’t until 2013 that a US president, Barack Obama, officially recognized its existence publicly. What is known about this secretive air force base is that it spans approximately 60 square miles of the uninhabited Nevada desert, roughly 5,000 feet above sea level. The facility itself is built upon the dry lake bed of Groom Lake, which now serves as the foundation for runways, base hangars, and an extensive array of other buildings. The facility even has a baseball field, which can clearly be seen with satellite views from Google maps. Aside from this basic information, little else is known about what goes on inside Area 51, but there has been talk of everything from UFO research and alien communication to drone testing and nuclear experiments.
Getting Close and Keeping Your Distance
The roadway leading to Area 51 is known affectionately as Extraterrestrial Highway (which can be found at these coordinates: 37°27’25” N, 115°28’57” W). Though it sounds like it might be a heavily-trafficked road, this “highway” is really more of a remote dirt road. Once the road leads you to the perimeter of Area 51, put it in park and don’t go any further! You can’t fly over Area 51 and you can’t drive into it either. Though the boundary isn’t lined with barbed-wire high-rise fencing, there is a barrage of signs warning against trespassers. Abide by these signs as Area 51 is heavily patrolled by security personnel and monitored closely with hidden cameras, sensors, and other detection devices. If you decide to trespass, prepare to be detained, jailed, and fined.
Catch a Glimpse - Tikaboo Peak
The closest legal viewing point of the Area 51 base is Tikaboo Peak, but the trek to get there is relatively difficult. Though it’s just a short 1.1-mile hike, you will have to walk through tough desert terrain. Once at the peak, you will still be 26 miles away from the Area 51 base, so be sure to bring your high-powered binoculars or a telescope to get a closer look.
The Surrounding Areas
The novelty of visiting Area 51 is about saying you’ve been there more than it is actually being there, because once you’re at the perimeter, there isn’t really much to see. Luckily the surrounding area has a couple of attractions that make the trek to this remote location worth it. So as you visit Area 51, be sure to make a stop at these destinations too:
Located in Rachel, NV, the nearest inhabited town to Area 51, you’ll find the Little A’Le’Inn. This all-in-one inn offers food, lodging, and Area 51 tours, but be warned that they do not sell gas and the closest station is in Alamo/Ash Springs, so fill up there! Once you make it to the Little A’Le’Inn you can browse the gift shop filled with alien souvenirs, grab a bite to eat (we recommend their infamous alien burger), and you can even make yourself at home with RV-friendly accommodations! Free boondocking is offered, but there are also water and power hookup sites which can be booked for just $15 a night! No dump stations are available, so empty your tanks before you arrive. When camping at the Little A’Le’Inn you can enjoy a night sky glowing with strange lights and the sounds of far-off sonic booms from training maneuvers at the Area 51 base.
Alien Research Center
Appropriately located at the beginning of the Extraterrestrial Highway, just 39 minutes away from the Little A’Le’Inn, you’ll find the Alien Research Center. This attraction is hard to miss as it features a colossal sheet-metal alien sculpture that stands taller than the building itself! The inside of the building features a small gift shop with various sci-fi souvenirs available for purchase.
Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge
Take a break from the top-secret supernatural world at the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge located just an hour away from the Little A’Le’Inn. This picturesque refuge features a diverse landscape of lush wetlands and arid desert expanses. Here you can enjoy great hiking trails, boating and fishing, as well as wildlife observation opportunities. Fourteen primitive lakeside campsites are available, free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis.
We hope that with this roadtripper's guide you enjoy your exploration of Area 51 and the surrounding areas. Just be smart once you reach the air force base perimeter as earthlings are not welcomed!
Have you ever visited Area 51 before? Let us know what you thought by leaving a comment!