Home to Area 51 and Vegas casinos, Nevada is one wild ride in the desert and most definitely a go-to place for Sci-Fi and extraterrestrial enthusiasts.
It is a playground for the weird, but what makes it wonderful is the acclaimed US-95 freeway that stretches northwest from Vegas. In order to make the most of your time, take a road trip down the seemingly ghostly freeway and stop by the attractions on the way. It will be a once in a lifetime experiences to share with your friends and families for days.
Nevada Nuclear Test Site, Mercury
A few miles away from Las Vegas, you’ll come across the eerily quiet stretch of freeway that’ll lead you to the gateway to the Nevada Test Site. A truly historical site that served as the test site for nuclear explosives since the ’50s. As expected, the area is under high security with stereotypical barbed wire and closed-off entry gates. You’ll be able to get a clear view of the Apple-2 test site from the entrance. It is an artificial town created as a large-scale test dummy for nuclear weapons.
Official tours of the site are available on a prior booking basis. It covers 250 miles of the test site, including the world’s largest man-made crater, caused by a thermonuclear explosion in 1962. You’ll also be able to get a clear view of the remains of Apple-2, prior to being tested on with multiple explosions.
The Alien Cathouse brothel, Amargosa Valley
If you’re looking for some alien-themed attractions of the adult variety, then look no further than the Alien Cathouse, which has its own share of historical heritage. The establishment was opened by the late Dennis Hof and it is themed around the whole extraterrestrial invasion gimmick. The brothel is very much NSFW with various alien-themed room fitted with BDSM features. You can get a free tour of the establishment and its features.
If you still can’t get enough of the alien mania, there’s also the Area 51 Alien Travel Center right next door, where you can shop to your heart’s content the various aisles full of alien-themed souvenirs including UFO-themed vodka.
Wild Donkeys of Beatty
Located near the Death Valley National Park bordering California, Beatty is a desert town where the donkeys roam free. They interact great with humans. Considered as the quaint town’s unofficial mascots, these friendly donkeys were brought to the area in the mid-19th-century by settlers. They happily co-exist with the townsfolk in Beatty. Have fun taking pictures of the herd, as they trot on by without a care in the world.
Goldwell Open Air Museum, Rhyolite
Just on the way to the Rhyolite Ghost Town from Beatty, you may come across a few oddities just by the road. They are often mistaken for desert mirages, but they’re very much real. They are just some of the unique open-air installations of the Goldwell Open Air Museum. Full of unique sites and twists on well-known artistic classics, there’s plenty to see. So, take your time admiring each and every installation.
Can’t get enough of the eerie oddities? Then wander along further down towards Rhyolite. Explore the ruins of a classic Nevada mining town full of old banks, red-light districts, a train depot and more.
Hard Luck Mine Castle, Route 267
While most adventurers are familiar with Death Valley’s Scotty’s Castle, there’s another lesser-known castle. It is more unique with its Wizard of Oz-themed decor and architecture. Hard Luck Mine Castle belonged to a regular guy named Randy, who decided to build his dream home in the middle of nowhere. The castle was literally built into the side of a mountain and features all sorts of unique decor, like two 1920s organs and an observatory. A 90-minute tour of the castle is available for anyone interested. The castle is even up on the real estate market for $900,000, if anyone’s interested in owning the establishment.
Bonnie Claire Dry Lake, Route 267
After checking out Hard Luck Mine Castle, don’t forget to stop by the Bonnie Claire dry lake to observe some really cool rocks. There are rocks located on the dry lake with trails behind them. Any scientific explanation behind this phenomenon has yet to be confirmed. Some say its due to the freezing and melting of the water in the dry lake, which causes the rocks to move on their own. However, others, of course, think that the aliens are behind it. Nevertheless, it’s still a pretty cool site to visit. Also, check out the nearby mining ruins as well.
Gold Point Ghost Town, Gold Point
If you’re looking for a more personalised and homey stay at an old mining town, then travel down US-95 till you spot the turn-off for Gold Point. Owned by Herb Robbins, who purchased the old town and breathed new life into it. You can meet Robbins himself and reserve a stay in one of the old miner’s cabins for the entire experience. Robbins, who serves as the town’s historian, fire chief and sheriff of the town with a population of 27, will gladly tell you his stories about the area and its history, all while providing you with a home-cooked family-style meal. Now, that’s good old Nevada hospitality.
The International Car Forest, Goldfield
The US-95 is somewhat of an open canvas and much has to be said about the international Car Forest in Goldfield. Make your way north down the freeway and turn in on Crystal Ave once in Goldfield. You’ll soon be greeted by the beautifully bizarre scene of colorful painted sedans, buses, trucks and other vehicles strategically placed in various positions. This open-air installation was created by Mark Ripple and Chad Sorg and is definitely a site worth checking out for some unique photography.
Goldfield Hotel, Goldfield
While you’re in Goldfield, and if you’re brave enough, then you’ll definitely have to check out the Goldfield Hotel.
Notoriously known for its feature in Ghost Adventures back in 2004, the hotel only stands at four-storeys, but it is intimidating and not for the faint of heart. The hotel has been abandoned since the 1980s and is known to be one of the most haunted places in Nevada. Adventurous thrill-seekers have reported voices, crying and weird noises coming from the area. The hotel is closed off from anyone going inside, but you can stop by and have a look at its formidable presence from the outside.
Grave of Unknown Man, Goldfield
Goldfield still has a few more hidden gems up its sleeves. Explore the town cemetery for a little taste of old mining history of how the people used to live here. It’s a massive graveyard, but one particular headstone stands out from the rest. Once you’ve ventured in deep enough, look for a sign that says Goldfield Pioneers 1908 and check the gravestones here. You’ll find a particularly interesting one that reads, “Unknown Man Died Eating Library Paste, July 14 1908.” Rest in Peace, Unknown Man.
Lithium Mine, Silver Peak
One of the most otherworldly sights you’ll ever see definitely has to be on the drive to Silver Peak. A 24-mile drive off US-95, the journey through the narrow road is bordered by teal colored lakes that practically glow neon on hot sunny days. If you happen to get caught on a windy day, however, expect desert sand to be blowing around you creating a scene from an entirely different planet.
The teal lakes are actually evaporation ponds used for the extraction of lithium from the ground. This is the country’s one and only operating lithium mine and is extracting a pretty important resource.
The Clown Motel, Tonopah
If you thought the last trip to Silver Peak was otherworldly, then take a step into another dimension as you head to Tonopah. Tonopah is a charming old mining town with plenty of history, heritage and architecture to admire. However a little on the outskirts sits the Clown Motel with over 600 clown figurines to greet you inside. Definitely not for one, who fears clowns. The rooms in this quaint motel are actually pretty comfortable. But if you’re not planning to stay the night, then feel free to wander in any way to admire the creepy, yet unique clown-themed interior.
According to its current owner, at least 100 travellers drop by daily out of curiosity to observe the unique decor, or probably to get over their fear of clowns through exposure therapy, who knows. Besides the Clown Motel, if you’re looking for other nearby spooks, the motel is located next to a cemetery. If that’s not enough check out the Mizpah Hotel, which is known to be haunted by an iconic ghost named the Lady in Red.
There are plenty of other undiscovered gems hidden across the small old mining towns down the curious Nevada freeway. Explore at your own risk and be amazed at the unique oddities you may find on your way.