[Rachel, NV] — Signs advising “Low Flying Aircraft” are your first indication. The next is a sign warning “Next Gas 150 Miles.” Then an illuminated, flashing advisory: “Cattle in Roadway: Open Range.” Hmm, I think; the government really doesn’t want you here, even going so far as to send in specially-trained cows to annoy motorists.

I’m approaching Area 51 on Nevada state road 375, officially designated the “Extraterrestrial Highway.” The desolate roadway borders the Nevada Test Site, where the government conducted above-ground and underground nuclear tests between 1951 and 1992, and  Area 51, a secret government facility, where — according to conspiracy theorists, at least — space aliens and UFOs consort with scientists and investigators. No one knows for sure, though — at least not anyone who’s talking.

One place they do talk, however, is at the Little A’Le’Inn, a bar, restaurant, and gift shop; the main (and only) attraction in the isolated outpost of Rachel, Nevada, the closest town — if you could call it that — to Area 51. I pull my Harley Road Glide Ultra — borrowed from Harley-Davidson’s Los Angeles press fleet — into the gravel parking lot. I’m told that on the weekends, the spot is a destination for bikers from all over, but on this weekday, I’m the only customer.

I sit at the bar, order a World Famous Alien Burger and a Diet Coke, and shoot the breeze with bartender Mark Singer. A friendly enough guy, but he’s decidedly noncommittal about whether I’m likely to see any visitors from outer space. “Guess it depends on how much tequila you drink,” he says. He tells me he’s never seen any extraterrestrials himself, but that lots of locals and visitors have claimed to. Regarding the subject, he shrugs his shoulders. I get it — tourists will come and the bar will make money either way, so no need to get all philosophical.

I hate to say it, but the burger kind of sucked, in an overcooked, dried-out way. But no one really comes here for the food, anyway. “We get people from all over the world, hoping to see aliens,” the bartender says.

Besides food and drink, the Little A’Le’Inn’s gift shop is well-stocked in alien tsotskes — postcards, T-shirts, shot glasses, coffee mugs, blow-up alien dolls — all the usual extraterrestrial memorabilia, along with bottles of special “Alien Tequila” (slogan: “An abduction in every bottle”).

It’s late afternoon by now, so I ride back to my overnight lodging in the town of Alamo, 50 miles away, enjoying the scenery, and keeping an eye out for extraterrestrials and top-secret, government-trained cattle in the roadway. I’m disappointed on both counts, but not by the ride and the scenery — it’s as beautiful as you’re likely to find anywhere.


Little A’Le’Inn
HC61 Box 45
Rachel, NV 89001


Alien Tequila

Watch for Secret Agent Cows

About Glen Abbott
Glen Abbott is a Florida-based travel writer & photographer specializing in motorcycle touring and travel. He is regular contributor to Harley-Davidson's HOG Magazine, and his travel features appear regularly in motorcycle magazines and other publications.

View all posts by Glen Abbott »

  1. Judy

    September 11, 2011

    Wish I had seen this before, just got back from NV road trip. Did not stop at the Inn because nothing outside said it had gifts.

  2. Cathy Sweeney

    August 23, 2011

    How did I miss this post before?? Better late than never. As often as I’ve driven through various parts of Nevada, I’ve never been on the Extraterrestrial Highway. I’d love to take this route. The scenery looks amazing. (Don’t really care to see an alien anyway.)

    • Travelin' Gringo

      August 23, 2011

      Hi Cathy, it was cool to see this area that I’d heard so much about. There’s really NOTHING here, which is all the better!

  3. mileserika

    August 8, 2011

    Next time you stop there don’t over talk to the waiter, the cook may be enjoying listening to your story and over cooked the patty. Beside, I think it is just a gimmick for that place to get more tourist to come.
    mileserika recently posted..play angry birds

  4. Samantha Lennox

    August 4, 2011

    LOL on the specialty-trained cows. Got to get me one as a gift for my granny’s farm.

    Those blow-up alien dolls look hair-raisingly real. Did you buy anything from the souvenir shop?
    Samantha Lennox recently posted..angry birds android

  5. morijude

    August 3, 2011

    Really? Is that aliens destination place? That would be my next stop for my planned vacation . Just love to meet that waiter and no plans ordering that dry patty burger.
    morijude recently posted..angry birds for pc

  6. Sailor

    July 27, 2011

    Wow! an interesting story. I wish I could meet the bartender too and have a nice chat with Tequila . Who knows may be we both can find an answer.
    Sailor recently posted..What if the Cruise Ship Leaves Without You?

  7. Jay Green

    July 26, 2011

    Toobad the burger sucked. A good burger can make any trip worthwhile.
    Jay Green recently posted..Smell The Flowers II – Hagerstown

    • Travelin' Gringo

      July 27, 2011

      I agree, Jay. I really wanted to like the burger — would have been the “icing on the cake” so to speak!

  8. Bob Crunch

    July 25, 2011

    I can see myself on a family vacation stopping by there sometime. There are a lot of cool things that I don’t need that I want to buy from that gift shop. Great article and I loved the way you narrated it.

  9. Lea G

    July 24, 2011

    This is cute yet scary! I wanna try this experience and have a trip in this highway! The alien stuffs are cute though.
    Lea G recently posted..How to relieve your period pain with Andrea Hepner

  10. That’s pretty sweet. I went to Roswell, New Mexico and it was all about aliens. Kinda fun, though I wouldn’t want to live there.
    Scott – Quirky Travel Guy recently posted..Two quotes that inspire me in life and in travel

  11. I love themed highways! I cruised the Surf Highway, Forgotten World Highway in NZ. But this one looks like right up my alley, being a sci-fi fan 🙂 Great to have seen this article!
    Christina (Jandal Road) recently posted..Spotlight on Canterbury: Lake Tekapo

  12. Eileen Ludwig

    July 19, 2011

    This area deserve a visit in my lifetime. Interesting and fun

  13. Grace

    July 18, 2011

    I keep forgetting that Area 51 is in Nevada. I should make pilgrimage to Area 51 the next time I am in Vegas. Did I mention I was an Xphile back in the day? lol
    Grace recently posted..Up in a Hot Air Balloon

  14. ayngelina

    July 18, 2011

    How bizarre! I need to see this for myself.
    ayngelina recently posted..Montreal, Je t’aime

  15. adventureswithben

    July 18, 2011

    I am a total sucker for alien tourism.
    adventureswithben recently posted..The adventures with ben “Face” Explained

  16. Michael Figueiredo

    July 18, 2011

    Very cool! This looks like a great place to visit!
    Michael Figueiredo recently posted..Travel Photo Thursday: Monument to the Discoveries – Lisbon, Portugal

  17. I love the bartender’s response. Classic.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Aussies and Empanadas

    • Travelin' Gringo

      July 19, 2011

      The bartender had definitely seen it all (except for UFOs and space aliens!

  18. I am not sure I would make this my destination but if I was in the area I would definitely stop by. Yes it’s way over hyped but in a bizarre and fun way.

    • Travelin' Gringo

      July 19, 2011

      It’s just one of those things you want to be able to say you’ve done!

  19. Jeremy Branham

    July 18, 2011

    Love the alien photos. However, think this place is a bit overhyped and it seems the bartender feels the same way. You’re right that the government doesn’t seem to want you there. I am not sure I would want to be either. Seriously, if an alien comes to earth couldn’t they pick a better spot??
    Jeremy Branham recently posted..Reflections on travel – my 7 links dedicated to travel and sleep deprivation

    • Travelin' Gringo

      July 18, 2011

      It’s true, Jeremy, there is hype in abundance around Area 51 — but I guess no one would go there otherwise. It is a beautiful ride through a desolate area, and that’s part of what makes it so cool!

  20. Like the play on the name of the bar/restaurant/gift shop 🙂 Thanks for sharing sights from the side of the world that we’ve never been to before!
    Shirlene from Idelish.com recently posted..{India} Juleh, the Magic Word in Leh

  21. This post is out of this world (sorry about that, couldn’t help myself).

    I love learning about these off-the-beaten-path places – they really are the best parts of a national road trip and always fill Kent and I with an odd sort of patriotism. We like that America is weird. 🙂
    Caanan @ No Vacation Required recently posted..Postcard from Glacier – Why the National Parks Rock

    • Travelin' Gringo

      July 17, 2011

      I agree, the off-the-beaten-path places are the best part of a trip!

  22. inka

    July 17, 2011

    This so much appeal to my sense of the bizarre and outrageous. What a place, what a ride. Are the cattle extraterrestrial too? I have to say this: as soon as I see on TBX that a new post of yours is up, I hasten to read it.
    inka recently posted..Get tipsy in the mountains – Sirince/Turkey

Leave your comment

CommentLuv badge