I love a good conspiracy theory! Taking a drive to Area 51 was a natural road trip for me. After all, Area 51 is conspiracy theory central and only 100 miles from Las Vegas. In preparation I watched ET, Paul, Men in Black and Independence Day. I also downloaded a couple podcasts and music from the X Files and Close Encounters to set the mood. The second episode of the X Files (Deep Throat) was based on Area 51. Hwy 375 was renamed the Extraterrestrial Hwy in 1996 to draw tourists, I approached it going south. This area is desolate. I’m talking 1,000 of acres of desert. There is no one or thing around. Accept cows. There are a lot of free range cows. Be careful of your speed, if you hit one you bought it (and totaled your car in the middle of nowhere).
Area 51 is most definitely the perfect place for a super-secret alien hiding military base! It is believed by some that the US Government took the wreckage from the UFO in Roswell NM to Area 51 in 1947 for analysis and reverse engineering. The US government denied the existence of Area 51 until 1997; President Obama was the first President to mention the area and that wasn’t until 2013. The government would likely still be denying its existence but a Soviet Satellite photographed it in 1988. When it is acknowledged now it is called “the operating location near Groom Lake” indicating its official name remains classified. No one knows what happens at the operating location. Employees are flown in for work each day, there is a strict no fly zone surrounding the base, it is said most of the base is underground, co-workers do not know what one another are working on and there are now ‘scoot and hide’ shelters above ground to avoid satellite images of what’s happening.
I had hoped to see bizarre airplanes flying as I approached. I wasn’t lucky. At one point, I did hear something but the sky was clear. Maybe the CIA is developing an invisible aircraft? I did have a ‘moment’ during the drive. I looked left to monitor the cow situation and I swear the mountain looked like ET’s head. Seriously. I backed up and looked again. Twice.
My first stop was the back gate. The dirt road between mile marker 11 and 12 is easy to find. The road ends at a gate with several guard shacks. No one is visible. This gate is maintained by private security known as the ’cammo dudes’. They don’t want to be photographed and stay out of sight. If I had crossed the boundary they would call the sheriff and I would go to jail. Period. I was disappointed the ‘use of deadly force’ sign has been removed.
Next up was the town of Rachel NV and lunch at Little A’Le’Inn where I was immediately greeted by an alien in the window. You may recognize the place from the movie Paul. This is a fun lunch stop for an alien burger and to browse souvenirs. Locals are quite friendly and chatty. Take note of the time capsule from the movie Independence Day before leaving.
After lunch I headed to the infamous Black Mailbox between mile marker 29 and 30. The mailbox had belonged to a local rancher and was a popular place for people to gather to watch the sky. People also used the mailbox to leave letters to aliens. The mailbox was vandalized multiple times before being stolen. The rancher didn’t replace it. Now there is a pile of rocks, substitute mailbox and trash in its place. Disappointing. Continue down this road for 20 miles. It’s a VERY long 20 miles. It gets confusing in a couple places, use this map. You will eventually turn right and find yourself in a Joshua Tree Forest. Just as you are about to give up and think you turned wrong you will see a boundary sign. STOP the car! There is not a gate here.
Look to the left and you will see a camera among the Joshua Trees. Look to the right and you will see the cammo dudes in a truck watching you from a hill. They have actually been watching you since you left the highway. This entire area is under surveillance and has motion detectors. They can also hear you. I started to get out of the car and they started to drive towards me. I quickly decided I did not need to get out. Unfortunately, this is a narrow road and they were not kind enough to widen it a bit at the boundary. It took me a minute (or five) to get turned around. They stopped and I left. If I were to do it again I would turn the car around right away and then get out for pictures.
On the way back to civilization I stopped at the Alien Research Center for a photo of the 30 foot aluminum alien. The center was closed but it is described as a museum with top secret documents and paraphernalia. I also stopped at the second ET Hwy sign, I was happy to find it full of stickers. This sign is replaced approximately every six months due to sticker overload. This little picnic area has been noted as a spot where Area 51 employees park to be bussed into work. There were absolutely no cars. Area 51 has its own fleet of Bowing 737’s called Janet that air shuttles employees to work from a secret guarded terminal at McCarren Airport every 30 minutes. Be sure to stop for a soda and some alien jerky for the drive into Vegas.
In all honesty I didn’t know much about the conspiracy theories around Area 51 before this road trip and I don’t put much thought into Aliens. I think Area 51 is a military operating base that tests black aircraft and plays war games. I also think the super-secret stuff was moved elsewhere after the Russian satellite incident. But, If the US government came across a wrecked UFO and alien body in the 1940’s, this was the place to examine it!
Fun Facts (Things that make you go hmmmmm)
- 70% of Americans believe UFO’s are real
- The CIA has stated “there is a remote possibility that there may be interplanetary aircraft and it is necessary to investigate each sighting”
- 10% of UFO sightings are “incredible reports from credible observers”