Roadtripping: The Extraterrestrial Highway

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Extraterrestrial Highway

Highway 375, Nevada

April 2, 2021

We spent a few days in Las Vegas to get out of Los Angeles for a bit.  Our purpose was to do some exploring outside of the Las Vegas environs.  We also did a hike on the Historic Railroad Trail near the Lake Mead Recreation Area in Boulder City, Nevada.  We did a mid-week trip arriving in Las Vegas on Tuesday and leaving on Friday.  We figured this would limit crowds, but we forgot about spring break being that week for many schools so there were actually a lot of families in Las Vegas that week. The weather was perfect for Las Vegas with high temperatures in the low 70s and upper 60s.

Instead of heading home from Las Vegas, we went north on Interstate 15 and continued north on Highway 93 to get to Highway 375 otherwise known as the Extraterrestrial Highway.  Our first stop for the official ET Highway was at the E-T Fresh Jerky in Crystal Springs.  This little snack shop has a few souvenirs and clean bathrooms.  It’s hard to miss as it is exactly at the junction on Highway 93 to turn left onto the ET Highway.  It has an enormous dirt parking lot in front of the buildings.  The jerky shop is a small trailer on the right, but the left building appears to be a ruin of some sort which has alien themed painted murals ripe for taking lots of fun photos.  I was really taken surprise by how eerily quiet it was there.  We weren’t the only people there, but there were no sounds of birds or anything else at all. 

There is a little island once you turn onto Highway 375 with some trees and picnic tables.  We stopped to take photos under the Extraterrestrial Highway sign.  There were a couple of other people there to take photos, too.  These were the same people we had seen at E-T Fresh Jerky, and everyone was really friendly and offering to take other’s photos under the sign. 

Extraterrestrial Highway Sign

Our next stop was a short drive to the Alien Research Center which is located on the right side of the highway on a small hill.  There are lots of ET Highway souvenirs available as well as Star Wars, Area 51, and The X-Files to buy.  I bought a “I survived the Extraterrestrial Highway 2021” t-shirt before we continued on our trip. 

It was a much longer drive to our next stop which was in Rachel, Nevada where Area 51 is located.  We stopped for lunch at the Little A’Le’Inn restaurant.  I believe they also have accommodations at Little A’Le’Inn, but we weren’t staying so I didn’t look into it much.  We had the “famous” A’Le’Inn burger which is served on a roll rather than a hamburger bun.  It came with a drink with a choice of pasta salad or potato salad.  I chose a Coke and potato salad.  The meal was good, but it wasn’t great.  They have a bar with alien themed drinks, but we had a long drive ahead of us so no drinks for us.  They also have a good selection of souvenirs, and I purchased a Little A’Le’Inn t-shirt, souvenir medallion, and a couple of pins.  Outside in front of the diner is a time capsule put in place by Twentieth Century Fox studio who filmed parts of the 1996 film Independence Day in the area.  The time capsule is to be opened in the year 2050.

Most of Highway 375 is completely flat and you can see for many miles around you.  It’s a two-lane highway with many signs warning about open range cattle.  Every time we saw a sign we would look and ask “where are these cows they keeping warning us about?”  We probably drove over 100 miles past the Alien Research Center before I saw the first cow, but it was on the side of the road dead.  We saw many more dead cows on the side of the highway over the rest of the drive.  This area is completely dark at night and the cows are hit by vehicles including large 18-wheelers.  We saw many more live cattle than dead, but it still made me a little sad each time I saw a dead cow. 

Snow capped mountains in the flat desert.

We continued to Tonopah which is located off of Highway 6.  We only got to explore the Tonopah Historic Mining Park, and we only had time to see a small section of the park.  We started off in the park’s visitor center/gift shop to pay the $5 per person fee for the self-tour of the park and to watch a short informational film about the history of the town and silver mining in the area.  It’s nicely air-conditioned inside the theater room and it’s a quick 10-15 minute film which gives insight into the mines and mining equipment you’ll see outside.  The film and the exhibits inside the visitor center is free.  We used the restrooms, and I bought a few souvenirs before we headed outside to do our tour.  We had a great time, and we’re hoping to return to Tonopah when we do our Loneliest Road trip being planned for this September. 

From Tonopah, we headed home to Los Angeles which was going to be a 6 hour drive.  We filled the gas tank in Tonopah and stopped to refuel in Baker, California where we also got some dinner.   Originally we had intended to do the Extraterrestrial Highway road trip during a day during our stay in Las Vegas, but I decided I didn’t want to spend two days driving so we moved it to the day we were leaving Las Vegas.  That made the drive home more exhausting after spending a majority of the day driving across Nevada. 

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