Where do we even start when the topic of Area 51 comes up? It’s one of our government’s best kept secrets. It’s an area shrouded in mystery, vagueness, and intense protocols to keep people out. Perhaps, it intrigues us so much because it’s labeled strictly as a “no fly” zone? Perhaps, it’s because people say that there are signs that tell you to back off or you could be shot if you get too close? Perhaps, it’s because there’s a big white blob over most of it on Google Maps? Or perhaps it’s because of the stories that supposed ex workers and alien fanatics regularly share about the secret facility?
Whatever the reason, Area 51 brings in countless tourists, alien enthusiasts, and skeptics alike annually. I have to admit that the VIVA GLAM team was part of this grouping earlier this year. We grabbed up our telescopes and equipment, jumped in a nice, spacious RV, and drove down the 15 up to US Route 95 and all the way up the Extraterrestrial Highway before heading back to Los Angeles. Basically, we looped Area 51! While we sadly didn’t get to see any aliens nor any proof of any form of extraterrestrial existence, we did get to explore and see first-hand some of the rather strange and gimmicky places that exist around the area to bring in tourists. Either way, a fun time was had for all! Here’s all the fun and exciting places we experienced on our alien-themed road trip.
The Future UFO Hotel
If you haven’t heard of the (hopefully!) upcoming UFO Hotel in Baker, California… you should look at these incredible concept sketches here. We were so excited when we first saw them, but the unfortunate thing is that there hasn’t been any real updates to their Instagram since 2015. But we’re still hopeful this gorgeously strange hotel with open soon. Since the same owner owns Alien Fresh Jerky and is building the UFO Hotel on the same property, we went to check it out for ourselves on our road trip. While there are two large metallic looking structures already built for the hotel (which makes it look like most of the exterior is done), we didn’t really see any construction attempts when we were there. There was even an unopened snack bar in between the big, space-tank shaped Alien Fresh Jerky building that sold adorable alien-shaped pretzels that we only hope will open soon.
We did take a trip inside Alien Fresh Jerky and found one bag of vegan jerky (spoiler alert- it was the “invisible jerky”) and asked the clerk about the hotel. They said they didn’t get updates, but they were hopeful it would open one day, as they see construction from time to time.
The Area 51 Alien Center
If you’re looking for a good spot to load up on small groceries, treats, coffee, and food while traveling to or around Area 51, the Alien Center is a must-visit. This gimmicky shop can’t be missed, as it’s incredibly bright, filled to the brim with alien merchandise, and even has an attached diner. It’s an alien-lover’s dream. It’s also right next door to a brothel, so when we say they have it all… I guess they really do have it all.
The Alien Research Center
If you’re looking to learn a little bit about supposed alien lifeforms, the Alien Research Center at the base of the Extraterrestrial Highway is a must-visit. Shaped like a bunker dome in the center of the desert with a giant alien statue attached to the front, you most definitely won’t miss it- that’s for sure. Unfortunately, on our visit through, the center was closed, but it was still a prime place for an alien-themed photo opp. How could it not be when their office outside is shaped like a metal packing crate complete with the sign “Ship to Area 51”?
The Black Mailbox
Now, what exactly is the Black Mailbox? It’s hard to say. We were driving down the Extraterrestrial Highway when it popped up on our radar as a must-visit location in the middle of the famed highway. Supposedly, it’s a spot for alien-enthusiasts to meet and convene (though there was no one there when we were there). Supposedly, it’s a place where you can leave messages for aliens or at least for those who can get your messages (or gifts) to the aliens. One thing is for sure- it’s a big black mailbox in the middle of the ET highway, and it’s filled with strange letter, cards, and “gifts”. When we opened the box, unsure what we would find, we discovered a bullet, some incense, a couple of small nick-knacks, and paper goods, all that we can only assume were left behind as gifts to the aliens.
There were also a few rocks stacked up on each other against the desert background. And, if you took out your telescope there, it was possible you could get just a small glimpse of the buildings back near the base of Area 51- maybe. Regardless, it’s worth the stop if you like the unusual, you’re an alien enthusiast, or if you are just riding the length of the ET highway.
The Extraterrestrial Highway
Speaking of the ET Highway, it’s fun to drive up or down what’s actually Nevada’s Highway 375, the Extraterrestrial Highway which closely borders the side of Area 51. If nothing else, it’s exciting to be able to look out the window and watch the skies right by you- just in case…so you don’t miss anything. And it’s definitely worth a good photo or boomerang at the sign at the base of the Extraterrestrial Highway- though it’s important to note at this time that the Northern end has the sign up where the Southern end’s sign is currently missing.
Though we didn’t see any signs of real aliens or anything even remotely paranormal, we sure did have a lot of fun visiting all the Alien-themed gimmicky locations. So, if you’re down for an epic road trip through the desert, try renting an RV and driving the perimeter near Area 51. If nothing else, you can check out all the cool locations found nearby.