Nevada Road Trip: Tonopah to Las Vegas

We traveled from Tonopah to Las Vegas after completing our Highway 50 road trip. We saw the painted cars of the International Car Forest, the wild donkeys of Beatty, and stopped by the Area 51 Alien Travel Center before we arrived at our hotel in Las Vegas.

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September 19, 2022

While Carson City officially ends the Highway 50 portion of our road trip, we still needed to get home.  We had decided to start and end our trip with a stop in Las Vegas, because we could take advantage of some great offers from a few of the casinos for accommodations. 

We took our time to leave the Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah on a Sunday in mid-September.  I had wanted to go to the Tonopah Historic Mining Park, but we had been there before during our Extraterrestrial Highway trip, and my partner wasn’t interested in going.  We didn’t get to see everything on that trip, but it was fine with me as it would give us more time to see other things on our way to Las Vegas.  I do want to come back to Tonopah and see everything in the mining park, the museum, the Clown Hotel, and the historic cemetery. There are more rooms I want to stay in at the Mizpah Hotel, too.  I had two stops in mind, the International Car Forest in Goldfield, and a stop at the Area 51 Alien Center in Amargosa Valley.

International Car Forest of the Last Church

After topping up on fuel, we headed to the International Car Forest of the Last Church in Goldfield in about thirty minutes.  The road to get to the Car Forest is packed dirt, but easily passable in my sedan.  There is a small kiosk and a single port-a-potty near the entrance.  We went inside the tiny kiosk to sign the visitors’ book, then we drove on the dirt road to see most of the cars and other vehicles.  We didn’t go up the hill to the row of upright buses, because we had plenty to see on the lower part of the Car Forest.  If I had a vehicle with higher clearance, I probably would have found my way up there.  We spent about thirty minutes looking around at a lot of the cars and a bus sticking up out of the ground and their spray-painted art and messages.  I know of at least two other similar types of places, such as Cadillac Ranch in Texas, but this the largest that I know of.  We had a lot of fun taking photos of and around the various vehicles.  We spent about twenty to thirty minutes here before we continued our journey.

Donkeys of Beatty, Nevada

Woman poses next to a donkey.
Wild donkey of Beatty, Nevada

It was another ninety-seven miles, and over ninety minutes to Amargosa Valley, but we took our time to look around us whenever there was actually something to see.  Route 95 changes direction in Beatty, and soon after we turned onto 2nd Street, which is still U.S. Route 95, we saw about a dozen or so of the wild burros that have invaded Beatty, Nevada.  We pulled over in front of the RV park, and we walked back to the Death Valley Inn where the burros were standing.  There were a few other people there petting and feeding the burros, and I sent my partner back to the car to get the carrots out of the cooler.  We had been snacking on carrots during our trip, probably the healthiest thing we ate on this road trip.  The burros are very friendly, probably too friendly, and let you pet them, but they were more interested in you if you had food.  I did notice a young burro and a pregnant burro, and tried to give them my carrots, but the others crowded around you to get the food for themselves.  It was a fun ten minute or so experience.  These burros have become a nuisance to the town of Beatty from the little I’ve read of them, mostly due to the rate at which they are multiplying.  I believe the current number of burros around Beatty is over eight hundred, and the last census puts the human population of Beatty at eight hundred and forty-seven. 

Area 51 Alien Travel Center

We arrived at the Area 51 Alien Center about thirty minutes after leaving the burros in Beatty.  I only planned this stop so I could press some pennies for my collection. It was also a good place to use the restroom and stretch our legs since the only place to stop between there and Las Vegas was a town called Indian Springs which serves Creech Air Force Base, otherwise there is not much except desert between the Area 51 truck stop and the Las Vegas environs.  I also purchased a few souvenirs for friends, then we headed off to Las Vegas.

Las Vegas, Nevada

We arrived in Las Vegas where we spent two nights at the Venetian just relaxing, and I went through my photos and finished my travel journaling.  I also worked on consolidating my purchases from the past eight days into a single duffle bag. We finally got milkshakes from Black Tap inside the Venetian. Though we go to Las Vegas at least twice each year, I had only recently started to collect patches from my travels, so I did buy some from places I’ve been to before, and often multiple times, such as M&M World. We did discover a new favorite breakfast place outside of Las Vegas to eat breakfast whenever we are heading home called Peg’s Glorified Ham and Eggs. We’ve only been to the location on Eastern Avenue, but the staff and the food are both fantastic.    There’s also a Costco Fuel center nearby to fuel up my car for the five-hour drive home. 

I didn’t include any of our Las Vegas spending into the budget, because we go to Vegas often and our room was essentially free. We stayed two nights at the Venetian, and my partner paid for our meals and expenses in Las Vegas.

Estimated Cost Tonopah to Las Vegas – September 19, 2021 (all amounts rounded up to nearest US dollar): $124

Breakfast: $30 for two

Tonopah Historic Mining Park: $10-$24 admission for two

Fuel: $50

Central Nevada Museum: Free admission

Central Nevada Museum: $20 souvenirs

Actual Cost Total: $45

Breakfast: Skipped breakfast

Fuel: $20

Area 51 Alien Center: $25 for souvenirs