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Planning a trip to Area 51 from Las Vegas? This comprehensive guide will help you navigate the Extraterrestrial Highway on your way to top-secret Area 51, whether driving, renting a car, or considering a guided tour.
Read on to discover the essentials for an unforgettable journey to the heart of UFO country.
- Distance: ~151 miles, 2-2.5 hour drive from Vegas.
- Route: US-93 North to Extraterrestrial Highway.
- Travel Options: Personal/Rental Car, Guided Bus Tour, RV/Caravan.
- Must-Haves: Cash, camera, sunscreen, snacks, water, full gas tank.
- Reminder: Stay within legal tourist areas; base entry is prohibited.
How Far Is Area 51 From Las Vegas?
Area 51 is approximately 151 miles north of Las Vegas, Nevada. The drive typically takes about 2 to 2.5 hours when starting from the Las Vegas Strip.
The most common route is along US-93 North to Nevada State Route 375, also known as the Extraterrestrial Highway.
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.
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 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.
Top 3 Travel Methods To Get To Area 51 From Las Vegas
Shrouded in secrecy and the epicenter of UFO lore, Area 51’s allure draws both alien enthusiasts and curious tourists alike. Located within a military base that has become infamous for mysterious UFO sightings, this destination is a must-visit for adventurers.
To navigate the Nevada desert and reach the enigmatic Area 51, consider these three best travel options:
- Self-Drive with a Personal or Rental Car: Gain independence and flexibility on your journey. Before you set off, weigh the advantages and drawbacks of car rentals in Las Vegas. (Learn the pros & cons of renting a car in Las Vegas)
- Join a Guided Bus Tour: Opt for a stress-free experience with structured itineraries and expert insights into the Area 51 mystique.
- Travel by RV or Caravan: Perfect for groups seeking a shared experience, this option combines the comfort of home with the thrill of the open road.
Selecting the right mode of transportation is crucial for your Area 51 expedition. Here are the essential details to help you and your group plan the ideal trip.
1. Driving or Renting a Car to Visit Area 51
The best way to get to Area 51 is to either drive your own car or rent a car in Las Vegas (Discover Cars) if necessary.
The fastest and most direct way to get to Rachel 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 the best 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 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 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 will not 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 drive, so make a point of filling up your tank before you leave Las Vegas and again in the tiny 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 risks 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!
Looking for a Reliable Car Rental in Las Vegas? Discover Cars Has Got You Covered!
2. Full-Day Tours to Area 51 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 a couple of bus tours from Las Vegas.
Tours to Area 51 are available several times a week. The two best Area 51 Las Vegas tours are:
- Captain Chuck Clark’s Area 51 Tour (Vegas.com) This SUV tour is headed by a man who wrote books on the subject of aliens and features stories from eyewitnesses. Nighttime tours are sometimes available.
- Area 51 Day Tour from Las Vegas (Viator). Head 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 even show you areas that would be hard to find on your own. These full-day tours typically come with a price tag of over $200.
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 the other options, using a tour bus as your mode of transport has its upsides. This is a great option for people who want to enjoy these perks while they explore Area 51:
- Easy Scheduling. If you’re a person who likes 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 has 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 tour bus trip, you absolutely should. However, it will take a little bit of forethought. It’s best to book your guided 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 over $200 per person for your tour.
3. 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. (Find out more about renting an RV in Las Vegas here.)
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 down 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. It’s easy to stay the course when everyone is packed into an RV or following one another. If someone’s vehicle breaks down, more people are available to help.
- More Room. One car can only fit so much luggage and people. Multiple cars or a large RV is ideal if you want to fit everyone (and everything) more comfortably.
- 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 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.
21 Shockingly Fun Facts About Las Vegas you’ve probably never heard before.
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.
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 Ely
- Turn left onto NV-375 N
- Continue on NV-375 N/State Hwy 375 (aka the 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 are traveling by car 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. Keep reading to find out what you’ll see on the ET Highway.
What’s On The Extraterrestrial Highway?
The ET Highway is one of the more popular tourist attractions related to Area 51 and nearby 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
The iconic Extraterrestrial Highway Sign 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 Highway 375 splits off from Highway 318. Keep going on 375 right after the split, and you’ll see a little rest area. That’s where you’ll find it.
(Also, note 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 and motel has that retro sci-fi theme that makes everyone smile, and it’s located right off the ET Highway in Rachel. 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, it’s best to nap in this pit stop. Little A’Le’Inn accommodations (TripAdvisor) are affordable, and the staff is friendly. In terms of fame, this is one of the most popularly mentioned sites on the Extraterrestrial Highway.
ET Fresh Jerky
Love beef jerky served up with a side of extraterrestrial stories? Well, you might want to check out ET Fresh Jerky. This petite store has a wide selection of handmade beef jerky to try or purchase and is fronted by a friendly crew. It’s located near Crystal Springs.
Alien Research Center Gift Shop
Almost immediately, as you get onto the ET Highway, signs will start popping up for the Alien 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.
Night Gazing Spots – Area 51 Night Sky
One of the coolest things about the ET Highway is that it is almost completely dark at night. This makes this highway an excellent place to stargaze and spot a UFO in real life. However, there’s no single best place to stop on the Extraterrestrial Highway.
Just pulling over on the side of the road to look at the night 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.
Tikaboo Peak is considered to be the closest you can legally get to see the legendary base, and it’s located in the town of Alamo, prior to reaching 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 climb over the dirt path, and it can be easy to get lost. Be careful if you check out this spot.
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 souvenirs you might want to get.
- 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 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 after the sun goes down.
- 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!
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What Is Inside Area 51?
Area 51 might be a top-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.
Area 51 is a serious tourism hotspot for one primary reason. According to conspiracy theories, Area 51 is where remnants of a crashed alien spaceship 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.
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.
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 filled with UFO gift shops.
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 pretty 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!
Why You Can’t Reach Area 51 Via Plane Or Helicopter
Because of the close proximity to the top secret military base and Nevada test and training range controlled by Nellis Air Force base, flying a plane or a helicopter to the nearby town of 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 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.
4 More Area 51-Themed Attractions In Nevada
If you want to do an entire weekend of alien-hunting and learning about Area 51, adding some other alien-themed attractions in Nevada 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 and screens clips of shows featuring this mysterious part of the desert.
The Area 51 Alien Travel Center
These next two spots are completely out of the way if you are heading to Area 51 from Las Vegas, but they might be on your way if you heading to or coming from Death Valley.
Hungry for food and just got into the Earth’s atmosphere? The Area 51 Alien Center is right off US-95 near Amaragosa Valley may be just what the doctor ordered. It’s a rest stop with gas, cheap food, and some alien kitsch. Sure, it’s just a pit stop, but it’s fun!
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 place you can visit before you hit the Death Valley is Daddy D’s, Rocket Diner. This themed diner has a “little green men from Mars” motif that’s adorable and food that’s pretty decent.
UP NEXT: This complete road trip guide and map shows all our favorite day trips from Las Vegas.