The Wild West meets extraterrestrial in Nevada
With most visitors staying 4 nights in Las Vegas, enjoying the neon lights, Michelin-starred restaurants and five-star entertainment, take an extra 3 nights to explore cowboy and alien country to the north of the city. Here is a 72 hour guide to the quirky encounters in the Silver State.
Friday, 9am – Depart Las Vegas on Interstate 15 towards the Valley of Fire Highway and into the Valley of Fire State Park (approx 1¼ hour drive). This is the oldest state park in Nevada and its orange and red sandstone formations are noticeably the most-filmed locations in the state, appearing in the Transformers and Star Trek: Generations films.
2pm – From here, return on I-15 to Highway 93, also known as the Great Basin Highway, and head north towards Alamo (approx 2 hours drive). Arrive at Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge for a hike in the rocky hillside in search of the ‘Pahranagat Man’ (publicrockart.com) one of the first petroglyphs left in the area by the indigenous ancestors.
5pm – Continue north and check into a Cowboy’s Dream Bed and Breakfast (cowboysdream.com) in Alamo, a fantastic wild western retreat. This B&B opened a few years ago and creates a luxurious western getaway for its guests where they can soak up the leather and oak aromas. Enjoy a hearty meal in the Dining Room of the B&B before settling in for the night in rooms named after the most famous gunslingers such as John Wayne and Annie Oakley.
Saturday, 10am – Enjoy breakfast at the Dining Room before heading west on Highway 375 to Rachel (approx 1 hour drive), also known as the Extraterrestrial Highway, which runs parallel to the Nevada Test Site’s northern border and Area 51. While the U.S. Government acknowledges the testing of top-secret military tools in this desert, locals believe aliens might also be tested there. Stop and take time to explore the area. Don’t miss the Black Mailbox (now painted white), where aliens are said to deliver correspondence with the locals.
12pm – Stop off at Little A’Le’Inn (littlealeinn.com) and start your alien encounter with an alien burger. Hear the best extraterritorial stories and learn why enthusiasts from all over the world travel here for the annual UFO Conference. Check out the movie Paul which features Rachel and the Little A’Le’Inn.
3pm – Continue northwest towards the quirky town of Tonopah (approx 2 ½ hour’s drive). Check into Mizpah Hotel (mizpahhotel.net), a gem of western life that has been restored to its former glory after it was reopened in August 2011.
4pm – Get a taste of true cowboy culture and head to the Tonopah Historic Mining Park (tonopahhistoricminingpark.com). The underground tunnel features a walk down a mine tunnel that intersects the Burro Tunnel, one of the original discovery stopes (an opening made for extracting ore). At the end of the underground adventure, visitors are able to step into a steel viewing cage and look down the 500 feet deep stope.
5pm –Dine at the Jack Dempsey Room of the Mizpah Hotel before heading outside to catch a glimpse of Tonopah’s night sky, which lays claim to the darkest night sky in the United States. Be sure to look skyward for signs of extraterrestrial life.
Sunday, 9am – After breakfast at the Mizpah Hotel Pitman Café, visit Otteson’s Turquoise Store (ottesonturquoise.net), the only place where White Buffalo turquoise can be bought, and pick up a Nevada-mined gemstones as a souvenir before departing Tonopah.
10am – Head south on Highway 95 and pass through some living ghost towns, such as Goldfield (ghosttowns.com; approx 30 minutes drive) which was once the largest city in Nevada. Continue on to Beatty (approx 1 ½ hours) and watch for signs for a detour to Rhyolite, located in the Bullfrog Hills, the most photographed ghost town in the West.
12pm – Continue south on Highway 95 and you’ll enter the town of Pahrump; it has an array of industries, namely casinos, fireworks stores, and a high-end winery. Taste some of the local wines at the Pahrump Valley Winery (pahrump.com) with the option to dine at the winery’s celebrated Symphony’s Restaurant.
For more information on cowboys, ghosts and alien encounters in Nevada, visit travelnevada.com.