Today we decided to do a long road trip since we were all pretty tired from our long hike yesterday. A camping neighbor had recommended driving up to Area 51. The total mileage for this trip is about 325 miles from Las Vegas, but 95% of it is pretty easy driving. We took the 15 out of Las Vegas to the 93 to the 375. I would say this trip is one of those that is really more about the journey than the destination. Once you are off the I-15 you are on two lane roads that are straight for miles on end. John said at one point he hadn’t moved the steering wheel in over 35 miles.
The scenery would make a geologist drool. Lots of mountains with striated lines on both sides of the road. You can definitely see where the ground has lifted and buckled. If you love mountains you need to visit Nevada. It is the most mountainous state in the country, with over 300 mountain ranges. Nevada also has more public land than any other state except Alaska. Once you leave Las Vegas it becomes clear how large and how pristine the rest of this state is.
We both enjoyed the ride up 93 looking at the mountains and the Joshua Trees. Near Alamo we came across Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge.
This is a beautiful valley filled with Cottonwoods and Willows. There are even some small lakes and marshes in the valley. This wetland oasis straddles the Mojave and Great Basin Deserts. This area is part of the Pacific Flyway and is a stopover for waterfowl and songbirds as they migrate south in the fall and north in the spring. There is a campground with 14 sights on the refuge. You can camp here free of charge for 14 nights out of 28. This would be a wonderful stop if you were driving on 93. There are no hook-ups, dump stations or water, but the view over the lake while the sun sets on this area would be amazing. We would definitely stop in for the night if we were coming through here.
About 80-90 miles up on 93 you come to the junction of 318 and 375. This is where you will start to see information about area 51. On the right before the turn you will see a small store selling E.T. Jerky, this is photo op #1. Once you turn left you will need to bear left again in about 1/2 mile. At this fork in the road you will seen the sign for state road 375, a.k.a. the extraterrestrial highway. This is your second great photo op.
The third one is just a short distance down the road at the Alien Research Center. This is a great stop for memorabilia from your trip up to Area 51.
We missed the next great photo op site. A sign near the Alien Research Center alerting you to the fact that there is no gas for the next 150 miles. The next stop isn’t until you reach the “black box”- sometimes white that is located between mile marker 30 and 29.
The road near the black box takes you to the “front gate”. We did not travel this road. What we had read is that it was 20 miles long on a bumpy dirt road. We did meet up with other travelers later in the day that said the views from this road were awesome. We continued on state road 375 until we reached the town of Rachel. We had tried to program this town into our GPS but it would not recognize the name of the town. People at the A’Le’Inn said you won’t find it on a GPS since it is not an official town. Our first stop in Rachel was at the town sign
and then to A’Le’Inn which is a great stop for a bite to eat or souvenirs.
They can also point you in the right direction to get to the “back gate” of area 51. You just need to drive back up 375 for 1.7 miles and take the dirt road on the right. The drive from here to the back gate is about 10-12 miles. It is a well maintained dirt road and about 2 miles before the gate it turns to paved. The gate is pretty “anti-climactic”. There was no one visibly at it but there were plenty of signs warning not to proceed and not to take pictures.
We spent a few minutes here before turning around and heading back down the dirt road and back to Las Vegas.
The highlights for us for the day was the wide open expanses of land and huge beautiful mountain ranges. It’s just what you need after being overwhelmed with crowds near Las Vegas. We had a great time looking for road signs unique to Area 51.
We figured there was no better way to end the day than by watching the movie Paul. It had been years since we had seen this and forgot how good this movie is. We thought of this when we were in A’Le’Inn since we saw signed pictures of the actors on the wall.