About 1.5 miles southeast of Rachel a dirt road intersects with the Highway, leading roughly west. If you follow that road for a good 10 miles, you get to the North Gate of Area 51, also known as the Rachel Back Gate. Unlike the Groom Lake Road border, here you get to see a real guard shack, a gate and a fence marking the perimeter. There is actually an old fence a few hundred yards before the boundary, but it is ok to pass it and drive right up to the black and white gate.
WARNING: A similar setup can be found at Cedar Gate, a little further north. There, however, it is NOT OK to drive past the first fence.
There are several small buildings, warning signs similar to the ones on Groom Lake Road, and a double gate with a chain link fence marking the border. Usually at least one guard is inside the guard shack, and a security vehicle is parked behind the building. The ground is level here for several miles, so there is no need for patrol cars sitting on a lookout hill like by Groom Lake Road. However, there are several tall poles with with floodlights and various cameras around the guard shack. The cameras can be monitored from inside the guard shack, as well as from a central security station in a different location.
Life as a cammo at the Back Gate is good. There is a barbecue behind the building, and a large satellite dish next to it. On several occasions we caught the guard watching TV (they seem to like old Western movies). The only downside is having to use a port-a-potty when nature calls. There is no septic system or running water, and power is provided by a generator inside one of the buildings.
In October 2000 the Gate was upgraded to new security standards. A new Guard Shack, about 30 yards behind the old white Guard Shack, was added. A new fence was set up and the old barrier was replaced by a black-and-white double gate with red lights, similar to the one at the hidden guard shack on Groom Lake Road. The area between the gates is enclosed by a chain-link fence. Apparently the idea is to have a lock gate for increased security. When a vehicle checks in, they are boxed in between the gates while the guard checks their paperwork. This way they are no longer directly exposed to public view during check-in, and also a potential intruder would be "trapped" between the gates.
The three main buildings have black building numbers: 997, 998 and 999. The old white Guard Shack is still there, but it looks completely abandoned and does not have a number. There are several Russian radar sites and various support buildings northwest of the guardhouse, about 1-2 miles inside the perimeter. See the link below for more information. One of the buildings near the radar sites has the building number 980, and likely the other buildings in that vicinity also have numbers in the high 900's that are not visible from outside the perimeter.
It is interesting to note that the road leading to the gate from Highway 375 is a dirt road. However, from the Gurad Shack on into Area 51 it is paved.
Update April 2006: A new remote-controlled camera was added in late 2005 or early 2006. (see photos below)
Update 8/21/2010: The Area 51 Back Gate Road has been partially paved. The pavement extends for 2.2 miles from the Guard Shack to the intersection with a road leading north and eventually back to Hwy 375. The pavement continues up that road for another 0.8 miles and then ends. There is no indication for plans to extend the pavement past that point.
Update 1/07/2011: A large new Guard Shack is currently being built at the Rachel Back Gate to Area 51. The building is about five times the size of the current guard shack, which was built in October 2000. It is located between the current guard shack and the original pre-2000 guard shack. After the paving of part of the Back Gate road last August (see below), this is the second major upgrade to the Back Gate in six months.
The new guard shack, still under construction on January 9, 2011