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There are some weird places across America. Every state has its own oddities, such as Idaho and the world’s biggest beagle, where you can spend the night at Dog Bark Park Inn. There’s Iowa with its Hobo Museum, Massachusetts has the Witch House of Salem, and Wisconsin has Chatty Belle, the world’s largest talking cow. But one of our favorites is the Extraterrestrial Highway in Nevada. Driving this iconic route, just 2-hours outside of Las Vegas, is like journeying into the heart of weird America.

The 98-mile stretch of road is mostly gorgeous desert nothingness (which is why you need to make sure you fill up your tank beforehand), but popping up like daises in the desert are quirky stops that we highly recommend making time for.

Photo by Ayphella
The Extraterrestrial Highway

There’s E-T-Fresh Jerky, where you can “drop your toxic waste in the cleanest restrooms in Area 51.” Across the street from the jerky store is the official Extraterrestrial Highway sign, which has been bombarded with bumper stickers. The Alien Research Center Gift Shop is just down the road, standing all by its lonesome in the vast desert.

The highway eventually leads you right into the extremely tiny town of Rachel, Nevada, where the sign greets you with the question, “Population: Human YES. Aliens?” Rachel is the closest town to Area 51, which has turned it into one of the most visited UFO sites in the country because of its proximity and the hundreds of “sightings” in the area.

The Extraterrestrial Highway Rachel, Nevada
Photo by Robert Engberg

Here you can stop at the Little A’Le’Inn, taste the “World Famous Alien Burger,” and get some UFO souvenirs as well as a picture in front of one of the alien ships that was used in the movie Independence Day and also contains a time capsule to be opened in 2050. Now you’re ready to head even deeper into the desert for a glimpse of Area 51.

Directions tell you to look for the Black Mailbox, which are not great directions because the mailbox is, in fact, white. Once you find it, you’re supposed to turn right and continue until you see government signs warning you against using photography and that security is authorized to use deadly force on trespassers. When you find these signs, congratulations! You’ve found Area 51.

The Extraterrestrial Highway black mailbox
Photo by Craig Mirkin

By now, everyone knows the history behind Area 51, so we won’t waste space here explaining it nor do we recommend venturing too close, of course. There unfortunately isn’t much to see there, and while it may be a little underwhelming, it’s still cool being able to see such an iconic area up close.

The rest of the Extraterrestrial Highway doesn’t offer much else other than the beauty of the wide-open Nevada sky. But even if you aren’t a fan of kitschy alien shops and stops, you won’t regret this drive. It’s a fun way to spend a day away from the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas. There really is no weirder, quirkier, or odder place than the Extraterrestrial Highway.

Roswell

While we love the Extraterrestrial Highway, another of our favorite weird places is Roswell, New Mexico: a ufologist haven.

The Extraterrestrial Highway ufo museum
Photo by Brad Spry

Roswell, the site of the supposed 1947 alien crash, is home to the International UFO Museum and Research Center, Roswell Spacewalk, and alien-themed escape rooms—and everywhere you look and walk you’ll see aliens. McDonald’s is shaped like a UFO, Arby’s carries a sign welcoming aliens, and even Walmart has paintings of aliens in its windows. Sure, it may seem a little silly, and it is very much a tourist trap, but it’s all so fun seeing a town embrace its weirdness with everyone getting involved.

While you’re in Vegas, here’s 4 of the best pools to check out. 

 

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