Promises of alien life forms, flying saucers, and secret government installations draw people to drive down a lonely road in the middle of Nevada. But the truth is, you probably won’t see any of those things along the Extraterrestrial Highway. Even so, if you happen to be headed in this direction, it’s still an interesting road to drive, with some nice desert scenery.
The Extraterrestrial Highway (Nevada 375) connects the communities of Crystal Springs and Warm Springs, in central Nevada. From Las Vegas, take I-15 north, then US 93 north. At Crystal Springs, turn Left onto Nevada 318, then immediately turn left again onto Nevada 375. About halfway, you’ll pass through the community of Rachel, which offers some services. Nevada 375 ends at Warm Springs, which has no services. To continue on to Tonopah, turn left and drive 50 miles.
If the military really did decide to hide aliens and their spacecraft, they couldn’t have found a better place. Nevada’s Extraterrestrial Highway is way out in the middle of nowhere. You won’t find gas anywhere along Nevada 375. But you will find some quirky, alien-themed places to stop.
If you’ve come this way from Las Vegas, your first stop along the Extraterrestrial Highway is at the very beginning. There’s a picnic area here, and a famous sign that’s been thoroughly covered by stickers.
Continue through “town”…
… and the first Area-51-themed attraction you’ll encounter is the Alien Research Center, on the outskirts of Crystal Springs. I’m pretty sure most of their research centers around which tacky souvenirs sell the best. But that’s okay, I’d expect nothing less.
If you didn’t get a good picture of the Extraterrestrial Highway sign back at the junction, there’s a slightly cleaner, less-stickered version on the wall here. And if you have a Sharpie handy, you can find a blank spot and sign the wall.
Also, there’s an alien Marilyn Monroe here. I don’t know why.
The drive north actually heads southwest for a moment, as the Extraterrestrial Highway snakes through the mountains around the Mount Irish Wilderness. Also of note — directly north of here, you’ll find the Basin and Range National Monument, an utterly empty area designated as a park by President Barack Obama.
As you emerge from the mountains, you’ll come upon a very long, very straight dirt road that cuts across the desert. There are no signs, but a glance at Google Maps reveals its name: Groom Road. Should you decide to drive down this road, you’ll be able to cross this valley and approach those distant mountains. But then, you’ll come to the border of legendary Area 51. Aside from some warning signs, there isn’t much to see. Groom Lake (and the aliens that live underneath it) are on the other side of those hills, in the next valley. You won’t be able to see it.
The only community along the Extraterrestrial Highway is Rachel, Nevada — a town bold enough to use Comic Sans font on its welcome sign. You’ll find some services here, including the Little A’Le’Inn — a motel and gift shop. But, you won’t find gas.
After Rachel, you’ll climb up out of that valley, pass through some hills, then repeat the cycle. And after all of that…
… you reach the end of the road, at Warm Springs, Nevada. The only indication that this is a “town” is the Warm Springs Bar and Cafe, which has long since closed.
As the name suggests, there is water trickling in the desert at Warm Springs, and it’s pretty hot. The spring is located in the hills behind the old bar, and if you look to the left, you’ll find an abandoned (but still fairly nice) swimming pool, constantly fed by warm, clean water. There are No Trespassing signs, a fence, and a gate — but I don’t know if that’s strictly enforced, or just a suggestion, for the owner to avoid liability issues. Odds are pretty good that nobody will be around to stop you.
At the end of the Extraterrestrial Highway, you can go east or west on US 6 – a road that’s arguably even lonelier than the Loneliest Road in America, US 50 to the north. It’s another 50 miles to the next real town, Tonopah — and it’s a town you’ll want to stop in.
Here’s a look at the drive north from Las Vegas to Crystal Springs…
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… and Crystal Springs to Warm Springs, on the Extraterrestrial Highway:
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Hopefully, you’ll have an alien encounter as you drive the Extraterrestrial Highway. More than likely, you’ll just enjoy some quirky souvenir shops and beautiful desert scenery. Either way, it’s a nice drive.