Stop at an eclectic, and sometimes eerie, collection of places while driving the length of Nevada State Route 375, better known as the Extraterrestrial Highway.
It’s usually a 2.5-hour drive through the Nevada high desert from the Alamo and Crystal Springs area to Tonopah, but travelers will want to linger longer and visit unusual places and attractions along the way. Will you see an alien from outer space or an unidentified flying object? Probably not, but it’s fun to imagine you will, and you’ll find plenty of inspiration on the Extraterrestrial Highway.
After leaving the bright lights of bustling Las Vegas, stop in Alamo to fill the car with gas and peruse places offering various alien souvenirs. Hit the road, driving 15 minutes north to Crystal Springs to begin your Old West desert road trip. At either end of your route, make sure to take a picture of one of the Extraterrestrial Highway signs.
Delightful Diversions for Explorers
First things first: Stop at the E.T. Fresh Jerky shop in Hiko to buy snacks for your trip. Inside, browse the assortment of beef jerky, dried fruit and nuts. Outside, admire the alien murals adorning the building – another selfie spot for sure. Prepare for the adventures ahead by visiting the Alien Research Center, the self-proclaimed gateway to the Extraterrestrial Highway. A larger-than-life alien statue greets guests who come to see exhibits and buy souvenirs in the kitschy gift shop. Your next stop is the tiny town of Rachel, about 45 minutes west. “Welcome Earthlings” proclaims a sign outside the Little A'Le'Inn (pronounced Little Alien), a motel, RV park, bar and restaurant. Eat an Alien Burger and take pictures of the alien-themed décor, including amusing signs, novelty items and UFO scale models. Outside, pose for a photo next to the tow truck hauling a UFO.
Alien artwork adorning the E.T. Fresh Jerky store near Crystal Springs
Sensational Sights Worth Visiting
Drive about an hour and a half west to Tonopah, your final stop on the Extraterrestrial Highway. Learn about the former silver mining town’s history at the Central Nevada Museum. See fascinating indoor and outdoor exhibits, including artifacts, a miner’s cabin, saloon and railyard. Nearby, see where the miners worked at the Tonopah Historic Mining Park, once called the “Queen of the Silver Camps.” Watch video presentations about the site, look at antique equipment and take a self-guided tour. When the day closes, you have options to stay here overnight. Opt for luxury at the circa 1907 Mizpah Hotel, a beautifully appointed space that was also voted the No. 1 haunted hotel in America by USA Today readers. Alternatively, get your laughs – and possibly the creeps – looking at the eclectic clown collection at the aptly named and affordably priced 31-room Clown Motel. If you are looking for a traditional room, well-appointed chain hotels are available as well. If you stay overnight in Tonopah, take time to look up into space at the stars and galaxies; this might be your best chance to see objects blazing across the fabulously dark skies.
Antique equipment and historic buildings at the Tonopah Historic Mining Park
All About Avoiding Area 51
There are plenty of fun and friendly places to stop along the Extraterrestrial Highway, so road trippers should not be tempted to venture onto the U.S. military’s super-secret property popularly known as Area 51, immortalized in fictional movies and folklore. You’ll drive right by this place, but attempting to enter the Nevada Test and Training Range at Nellis Air Force Base is illegal. If you venture too close, expect security to tell you to go away or run the risk of prosecution, and that would really ruin your awesome road trip along Nevada’s most eccentric route.
Scenic desert and mountain views along the Extraterrestrial Highway
Fly into McCarran International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas, then rent a car and drive north for about an hour and a half to Alamo, the start of your 160-kilometer trip on Nevada State Route 375. After your Extraterrestrial Highway adventure, explore more of the mysterious Silver Trails Territory on your way back to Las Vegas.