Area 51 might be a super-secret government lab housing alien remains…or not, but the air of mystery surrounding this desolate area in the Nevada desert only makes people more curious. When people are curious, it makes them want to see it with their own eyes. The “area that doesn’t exist” is now a tourist hotspot for UFO enthusiasts, and one of the most common ways to get to this military base is via Las Vegas.
What are the best ways to get to Area 51 from Las Vegas? How you get to Area 51 from Las Vegas depends on whether you have your own transportation or not and what you want to do along the way. The best ways to get to Area 51 include: driving your own car, renting a car, or taking a tour from Las Vegas.
Are you looking to book your own surreal trip to the UFO capital of the world? This guide will help you get the most out of your travel planning and a once in a lifetime trip to the most extraterrestrial place on earth.
(This article may contain affiliate links. This means if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you)
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Ways To Get To Area 51
- 2 What Is Inside Area 51?
- 3 Do People See Aliens Near Area 51?
- 4 Can You Get In Trouble For Being Near Area 51?
- 5 Can You Find Area 51 on Google Maps?
- 6 How Far Is Area 51 From Las Vegas?
- 7 Can You Go Inside Area 51?
- 8 Before You Begin: Area 51-Themed Attractions In Nevada
- 9 What To Bring On Your Area 51-Vegas Trip
- 10 Drive or Rent Your Own Car to Area 51
- 11 Driving The Extraterrestrial Highway – Nevada State Route 375
- 12 What’s On The Extraterrestrial Highway?
- 13 Area 51 Bus Tours from Las Vegas
- 14 RVing/Using A Caravan to Area 51
- 15 Why You Can’t Reach Area 51 Via Plane Or Helicopter
Best Ways To Get To Area 51
Area 51 is the code name for a secret part of a very famous military base. The base was made famous due to repeated reports of strange objects being seen in the sky. As a result of all the UFO sightings that have gone on in that area over the decades, it has become a popular place for alien hunters and tourists to visit. Due to its popularity, there are a number of ways to reach the area surrounding this base. They include:
- The Extraterrestrial Highway
- Renting A Car And Driving
- Taking A Tour Bus During The Day
- Doing A Night Tour
Each method has its own perks and pitfalls. Here’s what you need to know when you’re deciding on a way for you and your crew to get to Area 51.
What Is Inside Area 51?
Area 51 is a serious tourism hotspot for one major reason. According to conspiracy theories, Area 51 is the location where remnants of crashed alien spaceships are stored. Some even believe that little green aliens live inside this military base!
Some people also believe that the lunar landing was faked on a studio set inside Area 51. However, the evidence to support that theory is weak at best and laughable at worst. What is known for a fact is that Area 51 was the testing and training grounds in the 1950s for the super-secret spy plane known as the U-2 (source).
That being said, no one really knows what’s inside the military base. The United States government didn’t even recognize it as a real location until 2013, despite having a lot of talk about it from civilians. It’s considered the most famous top-secret location in the world.
Do People See Aliens Near Area 51?
If you listen to the rumors about Area 51, then you might want to keep a close eye out. This entire area is known for a wide range of different sightings, including:
- UFOs. This shouldn’t be a surprise, considering the rumors swirling about Area 51. It’s a known hotbed of flying saucers and strange lights in the sky.
- MIB. Agent J and Agent K might be real, after all. Many people claim to see strange “government officials” in the towns surrounding Area 51.
- Skinwalkers. Native Americans believe that there are witches capable of shapeshifting into animals out there. Though rare, there have been reports of strange creatures that seem to be part animal and part human wandering near the ET Highway.
- Black Dogs. No one really knows why, but phantom black dogs have occasionally been spotted on this highway too.
Can You Get In Trouble For Being Near Area 51?
It depends on your definition of “near.” For the most part, being around Area 51 won’t do anything in terms of raising alarm. The government is very well aware of tourists and tends to be fairly relaxed about tourists nearby.
That being said, there’s a limit to how much you can push before you get into trouble. If you cross the border into the military base or harass people who are guarding the base, you absolutely can get into trouble!
Can You Find Area 51 on Google Maps?
Yes! For a super-secret military base, it’s surprisingly easy to find Area 51 on google maps. On google maps simply enter the longitude and latitude coordinates. Type 37.244820 – 115.817208 into the search field and there you go. You can also type in Groom Lake, Nevada and you’ll see the dry lake bed where they have performed many flight tests.
Even easier? I’ve done the work for you here. Feel free to scroll around the map yourself.
How Far Is Area 51 From Las Vegas?
Area 51 is closer to Vegas than most other cities, but it’s still not a stone’s throw away. The closest town to the actual military base is Rachel, Nevada. For the most part, tourism groups assume that travelers going to Area 51 will be stopping here.
The distance between Rachel and Las Vegas is a total of 153 miles.
Can You Go Inside Area 51?
If you’ve been a major fan of conspiracy theories, then you already know that visiting Area 51’s surrounding cities is totally legal. However, those fences that surround the actual base are no joke.
People who cross the fence line are committing a serious federal crime. If caught (and they always get caught), government officials are given the right to charge them with trespassing, detain them, or even shoot them on sight.
What we’re saying is that you should never attempt to go into the prohibited parts of Area 51. Instead, just stick to nearby towns that are filled with UFO gift shops. Now that we’ve gotten that warning out of the way let’s talk about the best ways to travel to Area 51 from Vegas.
21 Shockingly Fun Facts About Las Vegas you’ve probably never heard before.
Before You Begin: Area 51-Themed Attractions In Nevada
If you want to do an entire weekend of alien-hunting and learning about Area 51, then kick off your trip with some alien-themed attractions in Las Vegas is a wise choice. There are plenty to choose from, too! These below, for example, are really exceptional picks…
The National Atomic Testing Museum
One of the more popular museum stops in Las Vegas deals with the region’s long history of being a nuclear bomb testing hotspot. The Atomic Museum in Vegas will tell you about how the A-bomb changed Vegas culture, stories about military testing nearby, and much, much more.
The Area 51 Museum
Once you take the ET Highway to Rachel, you will have the opportunity to enjoy a quick trip to the town’s Area 51 Museum. This museum discusses the many rumors surrounding Area 51, how it changed our culture, and show clips of shows featuring this mysterious part of the desert.
The Area 51 Alien Travel Center
(These next two spots Alien Travel Center & Daddy D’s Rocket Diner) are completely out of the way if your heading to Area 51 from Las Vegas but they might be on your way if your heading to or from Death Valley).
Hungry for food and just got into the Earth’s atmosphere? This “travel center” right off US-95 might be just what the doctor ordered. It’s a rest stop that has gas, cheap food, and a little bit of alien kitsch. Sure, it’s just a pit stop, but it’s a fun one!
Daddy D’s Rocket Diner
If you’re not in the mood for rest stop food but are still feeling a bit peckish, then another stop you can visit before you hit the Death Valley or Las Vegas is Daddy D’s, Rocket Diner. This themed diner has “little green men from Mars” motif that’s adorable and food that’s pretty decent.
What To Bring On Your Area 51-Vegas Trip
Going to Area 51 directly from Vegas means that you will have a lot of things you might want to pack in your bag. But, traveling light for this quick excursion is often a better option. Whether you intend on spending a night in Area 51’s surroundings or just the day, make a point to bring these items with you:
- Your Wallet, With Cash. You’re going to find at least one or two items you’ll want to buy, and you’re also going to want to refill on gas. Cash is vital for making the trip, and also booking any local area tours you might want to take.
- A Camera. You never know when you’ll see an alien craft zip by.
- Sunscreen, Water, And Food. The desert sun is no joke…and neither is the lack of rest stops. A couple of snacks and some bottled water can make all the difference in your trip quality.
- Your Smartphone And Car Charger. This is one item you really shouldn’t go without, regardless of where your destination is.
- Telescope And Blankets. If you want to check out the night sky, make sure to grab these two things. The telescope will help you see stars (or UFOs) better, while blankets will keep you warm.
- A Full Tank of Gas. If you’re going to be driving into Area 51, it’s absolutely vital to fill up your tank before and after you make it to your destination. Gas stations are few and far between on those desert roads!
Drive or Rent Your Own Car to Area 51
The best way to get to Area 51 is to either drive your own car or rent a car in Las Vegas if necessary. The fastest and most direct way to get to Rachel or any of the surrounding areas from Las Vegas is to take the I-93 North, then follow the signs to SR-375 North (more detailed directions below).
From there, you can just follow the Extraterrestrial Highway to your destination. This highway is the fastest route for traveling to Rachel, and traffic slowdowns are rare.
The Perks Of Driving to Area 51 On Your Own
This is a great travel option if you can do it. These perks are good examples of why most people choose to drive on their own:
- Cheap. It’s a cheap way to get there.
- Full Control. You can go at your own pace and stop if you want to, or just go straight through without stopping.
- Comfort. You get to enjoy the sights in the comfort of your own car.
- Convenience. You can drive to Area 51 at any given time. There’s no schedule other than your own.
Getting Gas While Driving To Area 51
Gas matters when you’re on the road, especially in blistering heat. If you’re from the East Coast, you’re probably used to being able to get gas every 20-ish minutes on the road. This is not going to be the case if you choose to drive to Area 51 or Rachel.
Area 51 was chosen as a government venue because it was so remote. When you’re driving through this area, you’re not driving through town after town. It’s going to be, for the most part, barren desert. There’s no way to get gas through much of this three-hour drive, so make a point of filling up your tank before you leave and again at the town of Rachel.
Car Breakdowns While Driving To Area 51
An issue you should consider when you’re thinking about taking your own car is the condition of your car. If your car is at risk of breaking down, you could be in serious trouble. High summer temperatures can rise well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and it can be hours before someone picks you up and helps you if you break down.
Always pick a reliable car for this trip, and keep your AAA card on hand. You can never be too careful!
Oddly enough, this is also the fastest way to Area 51 for most non-touristy purposes as well. So, don’t be surprised if you see commercial trucks and other similar vehicles as you start on your journey. It might actually be part of their route!
Driving The Extraterrestrial Highway – Nevada State Route 375
The most popular way for tourists to hit up Area 51 and its surroundings from Las Vegas is to drive the Extraterrestrial Highway. This highway is the main route to Area 51 and the nearby town of Rachel. Officially it’s known as Nevada State Route 375 or SR 375 (source).
Directions to Area 51 and Rachel From Las Vegas
- Take I-15 North from Las Vegas
- Take exit 64 for US-93 N/Great Basin Hwy toward Pioche Ely
- Turn left onto NV-318 N/NV-375 N
- Continue on NV-375 N/State Hwy 375 (Extraterrestrial Highway)
- Continue 39 miles to Rachel, Nevada
The 38-ish mile stretch (from Crystal Springs to Rachel) is a great choice for people who have their own car or a rental and want to stop along the way to check out the local flavor. This stretch of road features a sign that’s become a tourist attraction on its own, a UFO museum, as well as the famous Alien Burger at the Little A’Le’Inn.
What’s On The Extraterrestrial Highway?
The ET Highway is one of the more popular tourist attractions related to Area 51 and Groom Lake. This highway, for the most part, doesn’t have much on it. However, there are still a couple of places you can visit.
The Extraterrestrial Highway Sign
This has become a pretty popular photo opportunity for UFO and sci-fi enthusiasts. It’s the entryway sign for the highway, and it’s covered in stickers. Instagram-worthy? Absolutely.
You’ll find the sign where highways 318 splits off from highway 375. Keep on 375 going past the 318 split and you’ll see a little rest area. That’s where you’ll find it. Also, note that there is a 2nd Extraterrestrial Highway sign you can find in the desert just outside of Rachel.
The Little A’Le’Inn Hotel
Get the joke? It’s a “little alien!” This tourist hotspot has that retro sci-fi theme that makes everyone smile, and it’s located right off the ET Highway in Alamo. This hotspot offers decent food (try the Alien Burger), a gift shop, and several hotel rooms that will let you crash for the night.
If you are feeling drowsy while traveling to Area 51, then it’s best to take a nap in this pit stop. Accommodations are affordable, and the staff is friendly. In terms of fame, this is one of the most popularly mentioned sites on the Extraterrestrial Highway (website).
ET Fresh Jerky
Love beef jerky served up with a side of extraterrestrial stories? Well, you might want to check out this pit stop. This petite store has a wide selection of handmade beef jerkies to try or purchase and is fronted by a friendly crew. It’s located near Crystal Springs (website).
Alien Research Center Gift Shop
Almost immediately, as you get onto the ET Highway, signs will start popping up for this “research center.” Truth be told, it’s actually a gift shop with a pretty fascinating statue of an alien out front.
The gift shop holds a nice selection of mementos, but it’s only open a couple of days per week. So, if you want to visit this store, make a point of looking at its operating hours before you get in the car. (website)
Night Gazing Spots – Area 51 Night Sky
The coolest thing about the ET Highway is that it has almost no lights on at night. This makes this highway an excellent place to go stargazing and possibly actually spot a UFO in real life. There’s no single place to stop that’s truly ideal.
Just pulling over on the side of the road to look at the sky can be an amazing way to experience the fully surreal magic of this desert area. If you want to get a full experience, consider bringing a telescope and some night vision goggles.
Find out about the Best Places for Stargazing Near Las Vegas in our article here.
This small peak is considered to be the closest you can legally get to see the legendary base, and it’s located in Alamo, fairly close to the Extraterrestrial Highway. The views are incredible!
That being said, this is not a doable endeavor for everyone. You will need an AWD vehicle to clamber over the dirt path, and it can be easy to get lost. Be careful if you check out this spot.
Area 51 Bus Tours from Las Vegas
If you don’t have a car, don’t want to rent a car or just plain don’t want to do the driving you’re in luck! You can get a more tourist-friendly taste of Area 51 by taking one of several bus tours from Las Vegas. Tour buses often feature a number of amenities that make them worth the price.
Tours to Area 51 are available on both a day and night schedule. Some of the biggest Area 51 tour bus companies and programs include:
- Captain Chuck Clark’s Area 51 Tour. This SUV tour is headed by a man who wrote books on the subject of aliens and features stories from eyewitnesses. Nighttime tours are available.
- The ET Highway Tour From Las Vegas. Want to grab a couple of Instagram-worthy photos? This tour will let you stop at all the photo-ready locations throughout the ET Highway, give you time to take pictures, and regale you with fascinating facts.
- Area 51 Day Tour from Las Vegas. Go to Area 51, check out mysterious alien petroglyphs, and learn about the strange goings-on that made this location famous.
Most tours will take you to all the main Area 51 locations and will even show you areas that would be hard to find on your own. These full-day tours typically come with a price tag that’s over $150. That being said, they are a very enjoyable way to see the sights of this mysterious region.
The Positive Sides Of Booking A Tour Bus
Like with the other options, using a tour bus as your mode of transport does have its upsides. This is a great option for people who want to get these perks while they get close to the Area 51 region:
- Easy Scheduling. If you’re one of those people who wants to stay on schedule and plan out every little thing, tour buses are a perfect choice. Everything is already planned out for you!
- Safety In Numbers. Tour groups are great if you’re concerned about safety or getting lost on the road. Each tour comes with an experienced guide and fellow travelers who can help you stay safe.
- Tour Guide. Want to learn more about Area 51, or want to make sure you get to see all the cool things that this area offers? A guided tour will help point out all the local landmarks and make sure you see and learn everything there is to know.
Booking An Area 51 Tour Bus Trip from Vegas
If you want to go “full tourist” and book a bus trip, then you absolutely can. However, it will take a little bit of forethought. It’s best to book your bus tour at least one day ahead of time and to research each tour to ensure it’s the type of tour you’d want to go on.
Budgeting might be an issue if you are low on cash. You should expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $220 per person for the tour bus you choose.
RVing/Using A Caravan to Area 51
Let’s say you have a large group of people you’re traveling with. You all want to go to Area 51, and you honestly don’t have too much extra cash to splurge on tour bus tickets. Sound like you? If so, you might want to consider creating a travel caravan of your friends’ cars or renting a large RV to take everyone.
These two options will offer up all the perks of driving up to Area 51 but will help you accommodate more people and may offer additional amenities. Having a bathroom in an RV, for example, can make travel way easier for people with small bladders.
The Upside Of Using An RV Or Caravan To Reach Area 51
For the most part, your one main route to get to Area 51 is going to be through the ET Highway. How you choose to travel that highway, though, is up to you. RVs and group excursions via caravan are great choices for the right people.
Some of the perks of this option include the following:
- Easier Group Travels. When everyone is packed into an RV or following one another, it’s fairly easy to stay the course. If someone’s vehicle breaks down, there will be more people to help them out, too.
- More Room. One car can only fit so much luggage and people. If you want to fit everyone (and everything) more comfortably, multiple cars or a large RV is ideal.
- Better Amenities. An RV gives you a place to rest, a place to cook food, and a place to use the bathroom. That matters on a road trip, you know!
Cheaper Overall Cost. The cost of a room or a tour bus ticket can be pretty high for one person. For multiple people, doing a caravan setup can easily slash the overall price of the trip.
27 Cool Things to Do Away From the Strip in Las Vegas – See them here.
Why You Can’t Reach Area 51 Via Plane Or Helicopter
Because of the close proximity to the top-secret base, flying a plane or a helicopter to Rachel is not allowed. Government officials have security concerns and worry that getting too close to the area’s restricted airspace could potentially leak information about the base’s layout or major projects underway.
According to the rumors, the only people who are allowed to fly close to Area 51 are the government employees who work at the base. As a result, anyone who was hoping to fly into Rachel or close to Area 51 will be sorely disappointed.
No matter how you choose to get to Area 51 it is sure to be a day trip that doesn’t disappoint. How many of your friends can say they’ve been to Area 51?
Recommended Reading: Best Las Vegas Day Trips (Ultimate Guide & Map) – This is a complete guide and map showing all our favorite Las Vegas day trips.