Rachel Nevada is home to the Nellis Bombing and Gunnery Ranges which are better known as Area 51. For anyone that has even the remotest interest in aviation, they have heard of Area 51. The town of Rachel is a three hour drive North from Las Vegas in the Tikaboo Valley on Route 375, Extraterrestrial Highway.
As you leave I-15 for Route 93, you are suddenly thrown into the desolation of the Nevada landscape. There are only two towns along the way, Ash Springs and Alamo. If you are heading out this way it’s a good idea to get gas at Alamo, no gas is to be found in Rachel. As you depart the gas station at Alamo it’s a short drive to the Route 375 junction. Once on 375 the first photo op is on the right at the Extraterrestrial Highway sign, if it is still there. Souvenir hunters like snatching the sign from time to time.
The pull of in front of the sign is also an area where workers from Area 51 get picked up by buses and shuttled into the base. From the amount of cars parked here you can get an idea of work activity at the base. Although the majority of workers are flown in from Las Vegas, allegedly.
The next stop along the way is the UFO Researchers building on the left a short drive up the road. You can’t miss it, it has a five story metallic alien in front of it.
The rest of the drive is pretty straight forward desert landscape. Once you hit the summit you will see the valley below you and Main Gate Road heading straight into the horizon. It’s a gravel road that is usually in excellent shape and can be traveled on by a car. This is the road to take if you want to see the border, warning signs and the ever present “cammo dudes” or base security. Little warning, do not try to cross the border into the base, you will be detained until Nye County Sheriff arrives and checks you out. I imagine they will detain you for a good amount of time also. The border and base are not things you can happen upon, you have to know where you are going to get there so the security take border crossings very seriously, but there is know top secret base there, lol.
Rachel Nevada is a few miles from Main Gate Road, don’t blink or you’ll miss it. The town is comprised of some trailers and houses and the Little Ale’Inn bar, eatery, museum and souvenir shop. The food is great, I recommend the famous Alien Burger, very tasty. While Rachel’s biggest claim to fame is Area 51, it is also a great location for plane spotting during Red Flag exercises conducted by Nellis Air Force Base. You will be able to see a wide variety of aircraft coming and going to the ranges. Often sonic booms are heard as the fighters conducted supersonic training during Red Flag. The fighters are usually low and fast around the area, so be prepared, they sneak up you fast ! Dreamland Resort is a great resource for Red Flag and Rachel trip reports, check them out before you go.
If you are going to Rachel in the summer be prepared for heat. It can get well past 100 degrees so bring a good bit of water, especially if you want to hike to get a better view of the fighters. In the winter in can dip below zero with a good bit of snow.