We made our visit to the area surrounding Area 51 in an RV. Boondock camping each night. We were equipped with our cell phone cameras, an action cam, a Sony a6000 (and various lenses), and a Gen III PVS14 Night Vision with a cell phone mount. We had camo dude run-ins, saw some very interesting aerial activity each night, and turned the tables on the camo dudes at the end of the trip.
We made a video of our trip that a lot of you on this site and forum made possible (both actively, answering questions etc. and with your published knowledge).
We both arrived, flying into Vegas and picking up the RV (and pulling a bit of a maneuver to do the pickup at the airport in a high clearance vehicle) We got passed by the employee bus while gassing up in Ash Springs! We arrived in Tikaboo valley right at sunset and visited the Black Mailbox, got honked at by an 18 wheeler headed toward the Medlin Ranch down Mailbox Rd. We then set up our boondock campsite in our RV at the gravel spot along the ET Highway between Groom Lake Rd. and Mailbox Rd.
We captured quite a bit of interesting night vision footage and long exposure photos within the first few hours of setting up camp. It was a moonless (until around 11pm) fall night and the milky way was highly visible to the naked eye. We could also see the camo dudes cruising back and forth between us and the restricted area border doing patrols. Their bright white LEDs stuck out aggressively in the true darkness of the moonless night in Tikaboo valley.
After dinner we went back out and captured what looked like a low altitude flight of something right over the ridge in Area 51 airspace. We were able to capture some long exposure photos of the flight. There were also some interesting vertically moving objects we caught on long exposure photos. Then we saw what looked like a JANET flight take off from Groom Lake on our night vision video cam. It took off to the South then turned North toward the TTR. Very interesting stuff going on! Just as the JANET was leaving our vision, some very bright white headlights descended on us...
We were hoping they were fellow Area 51 tourists, not wanting to admit what we knew it really was...the camo dudes! They sat there (just northwest of us on the ET Highway) with their headlights (and maybe some additional lights?) pointing directly at us for about 20 minutes. We eventually went inside the RV and filmed when they finally gunned it and blasted past us toward Groom Lake Road.
We saw another low altitude flight just over the ridge that we again caught on long exposure photos.
We also saw something moving up and down a bit more North towards Bald Mountain that we were not able to capture in time. But it was very strange to us, it could have been a helicopter we figured, but it was certainly moving fast!
We woke up early and made breakfast and then a pilgrimage to the front gate. While driving down Groom Lake Road, we were head off by what could have been a rancher or a camo dude (bit of a beat up looking Dodge) that turned off North towards the ranch coming from the direction of the front gate on Groom Lake Road.
We took a stop at campfire hill and spotted the camo dudes in their normal position towering above the front gate.
We continued on and rounded the last corner into the low lying wash where the border gate is, noticing the cameras and sensors up on the hills, the razor wire and the new 'ET' FLIR camera.
We had seen this place in photographs and videos a million times before but it just felt so different actually being there. We felt watched from all directions and honestly kind of uncomfortable standing there.
We headed back down the long and bumpy Groom Lake Road towards the ET Highway and on towards Rachel. We stopped at the ET Highway sign and the Rachel sign for photos before pulling into the Little A'le'inn. It was the usual suspects in the Inn, the bartender, cook, another local and a full blown traveler conspiracy fella working on investigating spirits and possessions with a Craftsman brand electrical tool! Ya know, Wednesday morning stuff.
We browsed the merch and picked up a few things to buy, and headed on our way to the back gate.
We arrived at the back gate feeling a bit more comfortable this time in spite of the increased fortress and surveillance equipment at this gate compared to the front gate. We took a bunch of pics and contemplated camping right next to the gate that night.
When we went to leave we thought we saw a camo dude coming down the road, but they turned out to be tourists in a Camry. Camry-dudes if you will.
From there we went hunting for a place to camp for the night. We drove almost to the "Sniper Hill" gate at the end of Stewart Well Road, and after turning around we ran into a white Ford Raptor with two camo dudes inside. We pulled to the side and allowed them to pass us. We kind of came around a blind turn at them, so they seemed kind of shocked to see us. I think they would usually avoid driving right past us like that, but they didn't have much of a choice. Once they passed, we drove back down Stewart Well Road to the large tank and cow waterer where we set up camp for the night. We could see the back gate from our campsite!
The camo dudes eventually came back by, stopping about 200 yards away from us for about 5 minutes, eventually heading past us and back towards the back gate.
We were sitting out looking at the hills when we suddenly heard a very loud jet sound, and saw a fighter jet no more than 500-600 feet above the ground that came ripping across the valley just west of us. It came from the general area of the back gate and flew over the hills into Tikaboo valley (outside of the area 51 restricted airspace). Dreamlandresort.com forum member Nellis Spotter helped us identify this plane as an L-159, probably operated by Draken. My theory is that they were headed back to Nellis from the TTR. Video clip of fly-by
That night just as the sun was going down a family pulled up to our campsite. We thought they may be related to the rancher who has this tank here, but it turned out to be fellow a51 tourists and they were looking for the back gate. However, they didn't speak any English and we didn't speak any Spanish. Google translate came to the rescue, although when I wrote that the road ended in a 'dead end' Google translate phrased it kind of menacingly, but they eventually figured it out and went on their way.
We were visited again by the camo dudes making their rounds. But the things we saw in the sky were incredible. We saw something landing in area 51 (probably JANET).
Later, we saw something drop a flare, then shortly after 3 planes started flying that direction in formation, while they were flying a 4th plane's lights appeared. It seems like maybe they were chaperoning something that was flying fully dark for a while there. But I'm not sure!
Waking up to the sounds of distant jets, we had a quick breakfast, and battened down all of our stuff for the drive to Alamo. We stopped by all the hot spots again; Rachel, the black mailbox, and Groom Lake Road.
Shortly after we arrived at Groom Lake Road, we saw a truck driving our way from the direction of the front gate, we assumed to be a Camo Dude. Then a FedEx truck pulled off the highway onto Groom Lake Rd. and stopped just. We thought we had lucked upon a chance viewing of a new logistic method for the base or a camo dude Xmas present delivery at worst. Turns out the ‘camo dude’ we saw coming our way was just a rancher with a horse trailer, and the FedEx truck continued down Groom Lake Rd, eventually turning right towards the ranch. Not as exciting as we thought.
We refueled in Ash Springs, and visited the petroglyphs at the Ash Springs Rock Art site and after failing to off-road our RV to the top of the site, set out looking for a place to camp for the night. We cruised by the Alamo Annex building and spotted the employee vehicles parked there. One guy is really proud of his occupation, his personal vehicle is painted camo.
We drove down to Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge looking for camping, to no avail (all full) so we decided we would just camp out back of Alamo on the BLM land.
When returning, the white employee bus turned right in front of us towards the annex building, we followed. We pulled over across the street catty-corner, and watched them unload the bus. It felt so strange turning the tables and sitting there filming the same people who had been following us around the valleys all week. We felt like the dog who caught the car, and didn't know what to do with it. As they drove past us, each person slowed and looked at us. I'm sure the Sheriff was not too far off by the time we headed out to camp for the night.
When we arrived there were contrails in the sky of 4 jets all crisscrossing in the sky heading towards the restricted area. We then saw a plane drop a flare just north of us right at sunset. That night we noticed a green hovering object and multiple vertically moving light streaks coming from the direction of the base. At one point it looked like a plane turned 180 degrees in its path to avoid the vertically moving object. Truly interesting action every night!
We had another early start and headed back toward Vegas. As we were pulling into town, we saw some fighter jets flying around Nellis. They were pretty far away and I was driving down the highway but I'd like to think they were F-35s.
We made our way to the JANET terminal at the end of the strip, and there were multiple cars leaving and we could see one of the 737s parked facing away from the road. There was also one of the blue and white smaller Beechcraft planes to the left of the 737. We were passed by multiple employees driving their personal vehicles out of the terminal. From there, we headed to west Vegas and returned our RV, and Uber’d back to the airport. While killing time waiting for our departure times, we saw a Janet 737 take off and head towards the range from the parking garage of the airport. It all seems so out in the open to be secret. There are no camo dudes harassing you around the JANET terminal, and it seems a little too plain sight.
We had an absolute blast on our trip and felt as though we saw everything we would have hoped to see (short of getting buzzed by a Blackhawk). We are even more intrigued and cannot wait to return and visit Tikaboo peak, and spend more time viewing the sky above the range. When we return, we will be bringing additional tools to capture additional data like an ADS-B scanner and a radio setup!
Check out the video from the trip HERE. Scroll down for some great long exposure night shots.
ET Highway Sign
Second Night Camp Site
Ca-moo Dudes near Campfire Hill
Groom Lake Road
Stacked long exposure shots: First Night