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The top things to do on an Extraterrestrial Highway road trip

If the truth is out there, here's where to find it in Nevada on an alien-themed road trip to Area 51 and beyond

Photo courtesy of Travel Nevada

Have you ever secretly dreamed of a close encounter of the third kind? Are you curious as to whether humans are alone in the universe? Or are you just a big fan of The X-Files? Whatever your reason for wondering about alien life, the best way to get some answers is to find them yourself, and there’s no better place to conduct your research than Nevada’s Extraterrestrial Highway.

Also known as Nevada State Route 375, the 98-mile stretch of road has had so many reported UFO sightings that the state eventually started referring to it as the Extraterrestrial Highway. Though this trip is short enough to be done in a day, we’ve added a few other extraterrestrial hot spots you may want to visit while you’re in the area.

A sign reads 'Lunar Crater' in front of a desert crater landscape
Photo courtesy of Travel Nevada

1. Lunar Crater National Natural Landmark

If you go a little beyond the Extraterrestrial Highway, you’ll find a great space-themed gem: The Lunar Crater National Natural Landmark. Full disclosure: It wasn’t formed by a UFO, or even by a meteor. The volcanic crater got its name because it looks like the surface of the moon. You could easily imagine homesick Martians stopping by the barren desert formation to see some familiar landscapes.

An RV park entrance sign that reads Death Valley Inn & RV Park
Photo courtesy of Travel Nevada

2. Death Valley Inn

Right on Highway 95 is the Death Valley Inn, a modest motel that’s just a few minutes from downtown Beatty, Nevada. This hotel is less than 10 miles from Death Valley National Park, which experiences quite a few otherworldly phenomena, including the “Sailing Stones,” which are rocks that mysteriously move on their own. The motel offers an outdoor pool, a whirlpool, and barbecue grills, as well as an on-site RV park.

A sign that reads Area-51
Photo courtesy of Travel Nevada

3. Area 51

Perhaps the most notable stop on this road trip, Area 51 is just off the route, and is a mecca for UFO enthusiasts. As a warning, it’s illegal to trespass on the land surrounding the top-secret base. But there are hiking trails that will give you a good overview of the iconic hot spot. The trail to the top of Tikaboo Peak is the most popular.

A tall silver alien statue stand outside of a building in the desert
Photo courtesy of Travel Nevada

4. Alien Research Center

Once you reach Hiko, Nevada, pull over at the Alien Research Center, which is less of a scientific research center and more of a gift shop. Browse the UFO and alien-themed souvenirs, as well as the actual research area. Take a photo with the giant silver alien out front.

A green alien statue holds a sign that reads 'Welcome Earthlings' In front of a blue and white inn
Photo courtesy of Travel Nevada

5. Little A’Le’Inn

Little A’Le’Inn is one of the most famous stops along the drive. The diner is adorned in alien kitsch, and you can browse the gift shop for UFO-themed merchandise. If you chat up the waitstaff, they’ll probably tell you about various alien encounters along the road, the craziest conspiracy theorists they’ve had stop by, and maybe, if you’re lucky, the best way to check out Area 51. Do yourself a favor and order the Alien Burger.

6. Tikaboo Peak

If you’re really dedicated to seeing some UFO action, hike to the top of Tikaboo Peak—it’s the only legal place to view Area 51, which is surrounded by mountains. The steep hike will take about 2 hours, so come prepared with water, flashlights, and other supplies.

View of a lake with grass and a cliff
Photo courtesy of Travel Nevada

7. Lower Pahranagat Lake

If you’re in the mood for extraterrestrial camping, pull in for the night at Lower Pahranagat Lake Campground. It’s in a remote and isolated part of the state, which is perfect for uninterrupted UFO-spotting and stargazing.