Area 51 is the common name given to the Nevada Test and Training Range located at Groom Lake north of Las Vegas. Conspiracy theorists believe it is where the US Government has hidden evidence of extraterrestrial contact with earth, including the remains of a UFO and its alien passenger which was said to have crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947.
While there are many who genuinely believe that “the truth is out there,” just as many see Area 51 and the Extraterrestrial Highway as something of a tourist attraction, an opportunity to make some money.
There is no conclusive evidence that aliens are being hidden at Area 51, but that doesn’t mean strange photos haven't been taken in the vicinity.
20 Earthlings Welcome
If you are traveling through the town of Rachel, Nevada, then you won’t be able to miss the Little A’Le’Inn – just one of the many space-themed businesses which have made a home of the desert. You can stay overnight, stop for a meal, or just take a photo with their very own model of a downed flying saucer.
19 Alien Greeter
There are few inns that have their own flying saucer and even fewer who employ an alien – or at least a model of one – to act as their official greeter. Luckily for visitors, the inn is open to earthlings too, and the owners do a roaring trade in extra-terrestrial gadgets and gimmicks.
18 Cashing In
Crystal Springs, just south of Area 51, is home to the very scientific-sounding Alien Research Center – which is really nothing more than another enterprising method of parting conspiracy theorists from their cash. The Center is also home to Fred, a giant statue of an alien who is something of a tourist attraction in his own right.
17 Colorful Characters
The alien business is booming, and those who believe that the government is hiding flying saucers on Area 51, as well as those who are just looking for an excuse to dress up in crazy costumes, are regular drivers along Nevada State Route 375 which passes close to the secretive base.
16 UFO Drive Thru
Even more established businesses have taken inspiration from the local obsession with Area 51 and alien life. Rachel is only a small town, but the influence of Area 51 spreads far and wide, and businesses as far afield as Las Vegas have tried to cash in on their infamous Nevada neighbor’s popularity.
15 ET Highway
The road which runs through Rachel may be officially called Nevada State Route 375, but everyone calls it the Extraterrestrial Highway. Even the State of Nevada has put up official signs like this one along the length of the road, from Crystal Springs in the south to Warm Springs in the north.
14 Saucer Self Parking
And if you’re going to be taking a drive along the Extraterrestrial Highway, then you also want to know that there is going to be adequate parking for your vehicle, no matter how big it is or how far you have traveled. Luckily, the town of Rachel has you covered, and even advertises self-parking for saucers.
13 Desert Divas
Any visit to Rachel or even to the boundary of Area 51 itself is a special occasion for alien hunters, or even just for visitors looking for an unusual place to spend a long weekend. It seems that costumes are mandatory, but remember that the Nevada desert can get very hot during the day, so try to choose your alien outfit accordingly.
12 Take Me To Your Leader
Sometimes, the alien hunters don’t just visit Rachel but settle there permanently, hoping to catch a glimpse of something otherworldly at the Area 51 base. The rumor that Rachel was the place to go UFO spotting only started in the 1980s, but it soon gathered momentum and began to draw the crowds.
11 Earth Warning
The true conspiracy theorists seem to come in one of two varieties; they either believe that aliens are here to teach us something wonderful and to bring us world peace, or that these extraterrestrial overlords are here to conquer earth and consign humanity to a grizzly fate. Thanks to sci-fi films, it’s not hard to see why the second theory is so popular.
10 Forbidden Territory
Of course, all these conspiracy theories need to be taken with a substantial pinch of salt. Yes, the base at Area 51 is closed off to the public, who are not allowed to get close to any of the buildings, but this is because the area was used for atomic testing, not because the US Government has anything to hide. Or do they?
9 Alien Escapee
Driving along the Extraterrestrial Highway, you could be forgiven for thinking that there was something to the tall tales. Tourists in costume can often be seen at the side of the road or in Rachel itself, sometimes even claiming to be real little green men who have escaped the base.
8 Little Green Women
And where there are little green men, there are sure to be little green women. These extraterrestrial ladies look as though they are dressed for the hot Nevada weather – if it wasn’t for the fact that they are wearing sweltering all-in-one bodysuits. That is what you call real dedication to your art.
7 Alien Art
It isn’t just tacky Las Vegas businesses that are keen to cash in on their loose connection with Area 51. Even as far afield as Baker, California, which is known as the Gateway to Area 51, businesses are cashing in on the alien craze, including the construction of this giant alien sculpture.
6 Close Encounters
But is there really any evidence that there is alien life on the base? Or that the US Government has access to the technology from the flying saucer that was supposed to have crashed in Roswell? There were a number of UFO sightings in the 50s, but given this was also a time when the Air Force was testing a new plane, they may not be that accurate.
5 Space Oddities
Committed alien conspiracy theorists maintain that the US Government would not tell the people even if they did have access to extraterrestrial technology – and they could be right. After all, it wasn’t until 2017 that the CIA finally admitted that Area 51 even existed, despite the fact that many people had seen it from a distance.
4 Storm Area 51
For many, visiting Rachel or standing at the entrance to the vast Area 51 base isn’t enough, and they would do anything to get inside Area 51. In fact, there was even a Storm Area 51 event created in September 2019, although the organizer himself pulled out of the event when he became concerned that people might really try to break into the secret base.
3 Aliens Among Us
That didn’t stop dozens of people from descending upon the Nevada desert to get as close a glimpse of Area 51 as the very heavily-armed US soldiers would allow. In fact, the event became more like a giant themed costume party, with attendees all decked out in their best extraterrestrial outfits for the occasion.
2 Space Cadets
Only 150 of the hardcore alien hunters were said to have made the difficult trip across off-road tracks to get to the entrance to Area 51 itself, with most just staying at the nearby festival site. In the end, despite concerns about safety, the event went off without much of a hitch and only one person was arrested for getting a little too close!
1 Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers
Storm Area 51 is unlikely to be the last time that conspiracy theorists try to get a glimpse behind the barbed wire fence, and there is no sign that the UFO obsessed tourists and travelers who make their pilgrimage to Rachel, Nevada, every year are going to stop any time soon.
Sources: The Week, Travel Nevada, LA Times, Metro, The Sun