February 27th, 2022
Today we were heading out of Vegas and ticking off something that we really should have ticked off a long time ago. Namely heading out to the Extreteresstiral Highway and looking in on Area 51. Less than 2 hours from Vegas this is an area that has enthralled me for decades since I was an early teenager, obsessed with X-Files and UFOs. Way before Google Earth came along and proved area 51’s existence I had speculated and obsessed over the secret Airbase in the desert.
Nowadays I have a much more realistic and Nuanced idea of what the Airbase actually is, and the rationale behind UFO sightings and other such phenomena, and this excursion is 99% just for fun to visit some iconic location and really pretend we might encounter aliens, rather than any actual real belief in visitations or such like. However, with the videos and information currently leaking out of the pentagon, such as the Tick Tak, Go Fast and Gimble Videos making with testimonies from the likes of David Fravor, I have to admit I am re-evaluating my opinion on UFOs, albeit with caution, but the reason for heading out to the Area-51 location is pure entertainment.
The day’s plan got off to a bad start. Last Night’s fun had come at a cost and any chance of an early start was delayed as we slept off the vodka! Finally awake we received a notice pushed under the door advising us of some major disruptions to the Strip. Our trip has coincided with the Rock And Roll Half Marathon and we really hadn’t appreciated the impact this would have on the Strip. Basically closing off the entire Strip for most of the day.
We were lucky to get out just in time to avoid the worst of it, but the pain of the strip closure was definitely in the post.
We started the day by heading out to a favorite location of ours in order to bag some nice Strip Views. This is an area near Frechman Mountain that offers wonderful views of the strip and was used in the Hangover 3 Movie as the Wolf Pack Arrive in Vegas.
We also headed over to Nelis Airforce base to see if there were any Air operations taking place, but all was quiet. And again there are some nice Stip Views looking back over the City. This location was used in “Race to Witch Mountain”.
We then picked up some Hangover food, in the form of McDonald’s and headed off on our adventure.
Valley Of Fire
As the route up to the Extertersstrial Highway takes us up this way, we thought we would pop into the Valley of fire to take advantage of the cooler weather for some quick hiking. This turned out to be a bit of a mistake, as while the distances were small the slow speeds we were forced to adhere to in the park and the terrible traffic, as obviously we were not the only ones wanting to make use of the weather, really slowed us down.
The roads around the park are definitely not good roads for a 460hp 5.0 Muscle Car. They would be but the high traffic and low-speed limits meant we were reduced to just cruising along with the top down enjoying the views. Great fun but we didn’t need to V8, along with its thirst for gasoline, to do that! Still once out of the park, we got to enjoy the performance a little more!
We stopped first at the Rainbow Vista trail and hiked the sandy path out to the overlook, then we headed to White Dome along the stunning but undrivable, Mouse Tank Road, and then back to the main highway to check out the Elephant Rock. We did less hiking than planned and mainly explored the park by road.
It was a really nice relaxed trip, with stunning vistas and incredible rock formations. But it really sapped the time. And as we headed back towards the I-5 to pick up the route to Area-51 we realized dusk was fast approaching and we may end up at Groom Lake in the Dark.
We joined Highway 95 and headed out into the wilderness through Coyote Springs, Alamo, and Finally Crystal Springs. These are real remote outposts in a vast and featureless desert wilderness. As we passed through Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge we hoped to spot some deer but they were all hiding away from the highway. It is a wonderful spot though and an oasis of life in the middle of desolation!
We made it to Crystal Springs just as the sun was setting around 5:30 pm and joined the Extraterrestrial Highway (Highway 375). Unfortunately, the sign has been removed and as such, there is no ceremonial entrance to the highway.
Just a mile or two down the highway is the Alien Research Center. A tourist outpost, that mainly acts as a gift shop and fun photo op. There are replica signs here for those not brave enough to head down the actual Groom Lake Road to find the REAL signs.
As you can see from the Photo’s the light was really getting away from us and we pondered if any further exploration was a good idea. With what is going on in Ukraine right now, was bothering the Security Guards at a top-secret Military installation at night a good idea? Probably not but we had come this far, knew where the boundaries lay, and had NO intention of crossing them.
Groom Lake Road to Area 51
We followed the Highway over the Badger Mountain Pass and down to the Start of Groom Lake road. This Dirt Track heads way out into the desert and leads over another mountain pass to one of the main entry gates of Area 51.
For those that are unsure, Area 51 is 100% a real place. It has become so steeped in legend and after decades of denial, some people actually think the base does not exist. It does not have any official name and is simply a remote detachment of Edwards Airforce base and part of the Nevada Test And Training Range.
Since Google Earth came along and pretty much confirmed the existence of the base, the government has stopped denying its real but still very much refuses to confirm any operations that have previously or currently taken place there. It’s is a top-secret installation and the US Military does not want ANY prying eyes.
Now, whether that is due to the presence of “Not Of This World” Technology or simply due to “regular” military secrecy and advanced research is completely open to debate. The Facility almost certainly was used in the development of the B2, F117a, F22, and F35 Stealth Aircraft, along with the SR-71 Blackbird (Operation Oxcart) and the Trinity Nuclear Tests.
Basically whenever the US Government or Military wants to experiment with something and does not want prying eyes the remote Nevada desert is one of the places they come. It stands to reason, if the government are in possession, of Alien Tech this is where, at least at first, they may have brought it for experimentation, but of course, there is basically zero evidence that is true, and they base would exist, for the above reasons, regardless.
The fact that the early experimental versions of the closeby Skunk Works ultra high-tech experimental craft, such as the SR-71, B2, and F117a were all tested here, it is reasonable to assume at least some of the reported UFO activity in the area was due to sightings of these crafts.
Even today seeing a B2 Bomber in the air it’s hard to believe it’s from this planet, and back when these crafts were highly classified and unknown to the public, seeing one must have felt like an alien invasion was imminent.
Really if you judge Area-51 solely on the evidence it really is easy to see why such lore has built up around the place. You do not have to believe in Aliens Visiting Earth to accept this is a pretty special and mystical locale, and simply approaching it gets the heart racing. And at night it is particularly terrifying!
With this backdrop, we started down Groom Lake Rd. It was now essentially Pitchblack and began feeling like a very bad idea. Groom Lake road is long and straight and heads uphill at the end. It is a public road and access is perfectly legal up until the boundary of the Test Range. However, this is only marked by a few signs and orange markers and could be missed at night.
The Entrance to the Groom Lake Facility is Guarded by the Cammo Dudes. An affectionate name for some private security teams that monitor and enforce the outer perimeter of the test range. What was once a boring job has become more challenging in recent years as more and more tourists show up and potentially infringe on the restricted area.
Crossing into the restricted area is really bad news. While the guards do have the legal right to use lethal force, this has never (rarely?) happened and only flagrant disregard for the security forces might elicit that response. However, the guards do have the authority to make your life very uncomfortable. The $1000 fine, is really just the appetizer, You will be arrested, your car impounded, and you could face 6 months in jail. As tourists from out of the country, we would also likely be deported and face serious VISA issues in the future!
So this is definitely something we wanted to avoid at ALL costs. The very presence of a shadowy security force lurking in the dark on high alert due to overseas tensions made this one of the most exhilarating drives we have ever taken.
As we slowly crept along the 18 miles of first track towards the border, a pair of lights appeared o the horizon, one above the other. These were clearly land-based lights, not UFOs but they were still behaving oddly. After a long time driving, we realized the lights were just headlights and they were slowly moving toward us. We assumed these were the security forces/cammo dudes and we would be turned around early, but they went past us as if nothing was untoward so we carried on. As we got higher into the mountain range, we saw the dim lights of the Cammo Dudes perched up on the hill…watching us.
We kept on steady, Kate was way past the point of wanting us to turn around but I was transfixed with making it as far as legal. As we approached the crest of the hill we came across the sign.
Really we were both just waiting for a reason to turn back, for Kate, this sign was a reason too far, but I felt this was just a warning NOT to cross the border and Trespass, we knew this already and for now, we were still well outside the boundary. So we decided, or maybe I decided against Kate’s reservations, to just push a touch further.
Back in the car and I began pulling forward, at which point the faint glow from the Cammo Dudes o the Hill transformed into a very bright beam as they turned on the spot lamps on the front of the truck. There was no further need for me to wait for “signs”…I swung the Mustang around and for want of a better description, fled in Terror.
The next few minutes was an anxious period as we both were transfixed on the rearview mirror waiting for the headlights to appear behind us. But as we got further away the bright lights returned to the dim glow and we realized the Guards were just warning us off.
The hour was late and we had a long way back to Vegas, so we kept on down Groom Lake Road back to the Extraterrestrial Highway.
There are a few other things to see in the area but as it was so late and dark we decided we had explored the area enough, the heart rates were still well elevated for the near encounter with the guards, so we spent a few minutes with the top down, looking for aliens and generally ogling the stunning night sky.
Really the whole reason we came out this way later in the day rather than heading straight here, which would have been the sensible thing to do was to catch the night sky in the desert, away from the glare of the big city.
The skies were clear and the stars unimaginably bright and numerous. We have had the honor of witnessing some really Dark Skies before, but nothing like the show of astrological beauty we saw here!
As I set the camera up for a few shots an earth grazing meteor streaked across the sky in stunning fashion, really capping off the adventure…but No UFOs!
It is worth taking a second and looking closely at the above Photos? Do you believe in UFOs? We think there are convincing arguments on both sides, but neither really settles the debate conclusively, but the above images give a real insight into the possibility of extraterrestrial life. To think every dot on those images is another solar system, and these are only a tiny fraction of the stars contained in the Milky Way, and our Galaxy is only one of trillions, it really is hard to believe we are alone!
Whether or not another race has ever visited the earth is an entirely different matter but there really does have to be something out there…
Back to Vegas
Following a Fuel stop in Coyote Springs we now just roared back towards Vegas, making full use of the cars 460hp to eat up the miles. However, as we approached the City, the full effect of the Rock And Roll Half Marathon began to bite.
Google Maps confidently plotted a route back to the Venitian. It seemed well away from the closures but picked out an open route straight back to the Parking Garage. However as we neared the end of the route it was clear the Mapping service had gone Haywire, we ended up in the Valet of the Mirage, the wrong side of the strip, and with no way of getting across the closed Strip.
Taking matters into our own hands we worked out how to get around the road closures and how to get into the Venitian via a back route. While this seemed obvious, it was quite a task and added an extra hour onto an already very long day!
As we got back to the Valet finally we realized just what Groom Lake Road had done to the Mustang. It was coated in really fine dust. And we mean COATED. the whole car was a ghostly white with piles of build-up inside the wheels and anywhere that dust could collect.
Look like we would have the last laugh at the hire car firm after all!
Walking Total – 10,488 Steps – 5.5 Miles
As today was largely in the Car there was only minimal walking. The Hiks in the Valley of fire made up most of the total as did simply getting to and from the hotel room. But overall we spent a lot of today sitting down.