AREA 51: The famous Extraterrestrial Hwy 375, Rachel Nevada, Horneys Rest Stop…

Ron has been intrigued since childhood with flying saucers and extraterrestrial beings. He recalls the 1950s when this was in the news on a regular basis. One night in the early 60s his father came home from a Miami Hurricanes football game late at night and said that he had seen an UFO on the Florida Turnpike. Ron spent hours testing the car for glowing parts, changes in magnetism, radiation, failed parts, and weakened batteries. Sadly he found no evidence of contact with vehicles from another planet. Today Ron is highly skeptical, but still interested in this phenomenon.

Since we were passing within a few hundred miles of the famous Area 51 on our trip westward, we decided to take a day or two detour and explore the Extraterrestrial Highway. We of course researched everything on the web before leaving, but were still caught somewhat off guard by the desolation of this place. It seemed like it took forever to get to Rachel from the populated areas of Utah.

We headed west from I-15 at Cedar City and were marveling at the desert vistas by the time we hit the Nevada State Line. Two hours later we were still marveling …. little or no traffic out here and you could see cars coming at you from the distance for ten minutes or more. It was dark by the time we got to Hiko and from here Nevada Highway 375 was even more dark and desolate.

In 1996 Highway 375 was named the Extraterrestrial Highway by the Nevada Transportation Board and signs were placed near Rachel to commemorate the designation. Since the average daily traffic on this road is only 95 vehicles, the Board members took this step “to attract visitors from other worlds” and increase tourism. They even considered placing some of the signs flat on the ground so aliens could see them from the air.

Here are some facts to demonstrate the remoteness of this area:
Geography 2000
Lincoln County
Population, 2003 estimate
Land area (sq mi)
Persons per sq mi,
Metropolitan Area
Housing units

We decided to stop for the night at one of the popular viewing areas known at Horneys Rest Stop (mile marker 38.1). We were surprised that no one else was there. The site had room for some 6 or 8 RVs and there was evidence of recently campfires, but we had the place to ourselves all night. The entrance is marked with a painted rock. For for information & maps visit

We set-up our chairs and began to watch the brilliantly starred sky. It wasn’t long before we began to see satellites moving in many different directions overhead. Then we heard several aircraft zooming high overhead. We were able to pick-out a few aircraft lights as they made great loops above us in apparent dogfight exercises. Once we saw a huge blast of fire that was most likely afterburners kicking in. It was quite a show that kept us captivated until after one in the morning. But there was nothing that we could consider odd or out of this world.

The next morning we explored the area around Horneys. We hiked up a trail to an overlook giving us quite a view of the desert surroundings. This trail continued anoother rugged 4.2 miles to another overlook called the Powerlines Overlook.

After breakfast we headed west into Rachel where the Little A’Le’Inn offers meals and sells alien souvenirs. Their website is We are suckers for souvenirs, so we stocked-up buying several T-shirts, pins, signs and even the official Area 51 & S-4 Handbook. This book has some great information, but the author lost a lot of credibility when he offered some of his hypotheses on UFOs. The greatest likelihood … UFOs are “another dimensional reality which co-exists with the reality that we are part of.” He should have left this last chapter out of the book.

Back outside we posed for the obligatory photo shoot in front of the Ale Inn sign and UFO recovery vehicle.

We unloaded the KLRs are headed a mile west and found the dry lake bed. Riding out into the dry clodded mud we knew to take good stock of where the exit road was located. Once you are on the lake it all looks the same. Even taking precautions we had a difficult time finding our way out. Riding of the lake bed was different; speeding across this large open area with no lanes or obstructions to dodge. We headed off on the north side of the lake bed where arrowheads were supposedly easy to find. We didn’t have any luck after traipsing around for half an hour.

Heading back to the lake bed Ron decided to jump one of the mounds. He almost went down crossing the hump as the dirt was very mushy. Circling back to find the exit we sped around clumps of desert bushes in a wild chase. Several times I thought I heard my KLR backfire loudly. A few minutes later I stopped to take some picts of Nancy and was startled by several sonic booms. It wasn’t the bike at all.

Back on the road we stopped at the Extraterrestrial Highway sign for some more photos before deciding to take the gravel road from Rachel to the Back Gate of Area 51. This is probably the best maintained gravel road in the world. It is wider than HWY 375, nearly straight for the entire 10 miles, and graded smooth enough to allow us a 70 mph run. As we approached the gate there were several buildings and the guard gate looked very ominous. Reflective darkened windows faced us. Tall power poles had all sorts of electronic surveillance equipment mounted on them. There was no sign of a living person but the warning signs alone were enough to make us keep the camera in the tank bag. Some of the signs read “WARNING – Restricted Area, Use of deadly force authorized” and “PHOTOGRAPHY OF THIS AREA IS PROHIBITED”.

We raced back to 375 a little faster glancing warily behind us every so often and then east four miles to explore the old mining ghost town of Tempiute (not to be confused with the newer Lincoln Mine on the other side of the mountain). After several miles of gravel we came to the ruins of rock huts. Exploring the area we found caves dug into the hillside, some still had the remains of old bed frames in them. We were amazed at the amount of old artifacts seen here – lots of rusted cans, bed springs, and metal scraps. The area was supposedly last inhabited in the late 1800s. We had a great view looking northwest toward Rachel and the dry lake bed.

Returning to the bikes I noticed my front tire was flat. I had taken a hard hit on a rock shortly before, but later we found an old nail in the tire. I limped back to the paved road and waited for Nancy to get a can of fix-a-flat from the RV. This held long enough to get back to Rachel and load the bikes.

We decided to take it easy the rest of the day rather than chance getting trapped out in the middle of nowhere with a major flat. We drove east and took a photo of the “Black Mailbox” which is now white (milepost 29.6). It is the most photographed mailbox in the world as every UFO buff who passes here takes a pict. This is one of the better viewing areas along HWY 375 with Area 51 just over the ridge of mountains.

We headed a few more miles down the road to the gravel parking area at milepost 32.3 and were surprised to be the only ones there. It was still mid-afternoon so we had time to relax before the nighttime airshow began. We lowered the awning, put on some shorts, and snacked as we watched the little desert twisters off in the distance. Ron laid down to take a nap and Nancy was reading when all of a sudden one of the dirt devils hit us broadside and ripped the awning loose, flinging it over the top of the RV. There was no repairing the twisted metal supports, so we took off all the hardware and packed the remains into the RV best we could.

As darkness fell we were hoping for some great sky action, but it was quiet. Ron fell asleep in the lawn chair and finally called it quits about 1 am.

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