We went to Vegas for NYE 2007. On 1st January 2008 we picked up our hire car and headed towards Area 51.
We left our hotel and went for a quick breakfast at Dennys on Freemont street. We set off at 9.10 on I-15 towards Salt Lake City. We had a Satnav. I put 'Alamo' into the sat-nav, as it did not recognise Rachel, and I knew Alamo was on the way. I had many maps and directions printed from the Dreamland Resort website, so knew we would be able to find our way, after that anyway.
When on I-15, take junction 64 onto US-93 north. This stretch on US-93 is the longest part of the trip, about 90 miles. The scenery and hills along here are beautiful. (although hubby mentioned 'the hills have eyes' - scarey film !). The road is single lane in both directions, and there was the odd car here and there.
We got to Alamo at 10.50. We filled up here, as there is no petrol station between here and Rachel. Ideally we should have filled up in Vegas, where the petrol $2.96/gallon. In Alamo it was $3.34/gallon.
After Alamo you reach Ash Springs (but you go through Ash Springs without realising!) 12 miles after Alamo, you will come to the intersection with Hwy. 93, 318 and 375 (the ET highway). Across the road from the intersection, there was a derelict sight, with a huge sign advertising "Alien Fresh Jerky". We took a left onto the ET highway. Although we had programmed our satnav to take us to Alamo we had left it on….and instead started looking at the maps I had printed. I was surprised when we turned onto Hwy. 375 and the satnav was reporting that we were on "extraterrestrial highway". Brilliant !
Once on Hwy. 375 you will come across the "Extraterrestrial Highway" sign under a group of trees. Near the sign, in the shade of the trees, is where some of the Area 51 workers park their cars to take the white unmarked bus into Area 51. Unfortunately. we did not see anything. At night and on weekends the white bus is parked in front of the Alamo Court House.
Please note that most of Hwy. 375 is open range. There are no fences, animals may wander across the road - be careful.
From the start of Hwy. 375 it is about 16 miles over Hancock Summit to the beginning of Groom Lake Road, 20 miles to the Black Mailbox and 39 miles to Rachel.
Groom lake road was easier to find than we had thought. Driving down ET Hwy, you will notice a huge rock on the right-hand side of the road, with 'Horneys' marked on it. The road then curves round to the right, you should notice Groom Lake Road on your left. Below is a picture as you turn on to Groom Lake Road. As you can see, it really does stand out.
As we turned on to Groom Lake, I was surprised again to see that the satnav (still on!) was saying we were on '51 road'.
Groom Lake Road is a well kept dirt track. It is 15 miles from the start to the border, which is identified by the well known warning signs. We were driving a Dodge Caliber and it coped well with the road.
Half way down Groom Lake Road we noticed a car coming in the opposite direction. It was a red car, and both them and us slowed down as we approached. We peered into each others windows as passing, and then we carried on. It was just another couple…on the same mission we were.
After 20 minutes of driving on Groom Lake Road we arrived at the infamous border. The border is marked by a line of orange posts (easy to miss) and the signs (which were easy to see as approaching them).
Do not cross the border ! You will more than likely be arrested by the cammo-dudes. A cammo-dude was on the hill waiting for us. He had probably been watching us ever since we had turned onto Groom Lake Road. The cammo-dudes are members of a private security firm guarding the Area 51 perimeter and the Groom Lake area. They are armed and are often seen sitting on the hill. We did get quite intimidated by the cammo-dude and as a result did not take as many pictures as I would have liked. However, you may snap away ! The Cammo Dudes have no legal authority outside the restricted area, and are actually supposed to avoid contact with us, unless we cross the border.
After taking in the surreal moment, and walking around and soaking in the eeriness, we made our way back up Groom Lake Road. We took a left and continued onto to Rachel.
After 5 miles (after Groom Lake Road) we saw the "Black Mailbox" on the left hand side. The, now painted white, mailbox was easy to find - it is on the corner of Mailbox Road, located on Hwy. 375, between mile marker 29 and 30. It is standing alone on the middle of nowhere. This mailbox actually belongs to rancher Steve Medlin and has lots of graffiti on it. We stepped out to look at it in more detail . This area is used often by campers hoping to spot a UFO. During the summer months, this is a good place to meet fellow UFO watchers at night.
We headed on back up ET hwy to Rachel. We knew we had arrived in Rachel when we saw the sign for The Little A'Le'Inn.
Because we were there on new years day, the place was quiet. It was just us, the owner and an assistant and the couple we had seen earlier on Groom Lake Road. This place was amazing. The walls were covered in alien and ufo pictures, from all over the world. There is lots of great merchandise. We spent ages looking around before ordering the famous Alien Burger. I also had the best cup of tea I had here, for the whole 2 weeks I was in America. We spoke to Pat, who informed us her Tetley tea bags are from the UK. Pat was very nice, and answered questions and told us more.
Outside the Little A'Le'Inn there is the "ID4" monument, which was placed here by the producers of the movie Independence Day. It contains a time capsule, to be opened in the year 2050.
We took a few more pictures of the surrounding area and headed back towards Vegas. If we had more time we would have gone to see the back gate (reached by going behind Rachel).
We got back to Vegas at about 4.30, just in time to hand back the hire car.
For us the first day of 2008 will be a memorable for years to come. Eventually getting the chance to go and visit the legendry Area 51 site, was a dream come true.