Area 51, Groom Lake, Watertown Strip, Paradise Ranch, and Dreamland are some of the many names that people have called the secret government installation that lies at the end of Groom Lake road.
For years, since Robert Lazar brought this place into the public eye, the Groom Lake base has been the hub of conspiracy theories, UFO sightings, and unexplained phenomenon. And it’s easy to see why: the government still denies its existence, and people want to know what lies beyond the front gates of this ever-illusive base.
It costs enough money to run a large military experimental testing facility, but it costs exponentially more to keep its existence secret. Whatever secrets the US government works so hard to hide, must be worth the trouble. And every person who makes the pilgrimage to Area 51, brings the American people that much closer to discovering the truth.
This is the official unofficial visitor’s guide to Area 51–giving you all the information you will need to make your visit not only possible, but the best it can be.
A brief History of the base:
During World War II, the Groom Lake area was used as a bombing and gunnery range for the US Air Force. In the early 1950’s, Lockheed’s Clarence “Kelly” Johnson had begun work on a high-altitude spy plane, later called the U2. They needed a place to test the new plane, and on August 1, 1955, Groom Lake’s dry lakebed served as the premium location. In fact, Ben Rich in his book about the Skunk Work’s team wrote how it was Kelly Johnson who “had jokingly nicknamed this Godforsaken place Paradise Ranch, hoping to lure young and innocent flight crews.”
Later this installation was used to test the SR-71 Blackbird, Have Blue, and F-117. Not much has been declassified about these programs, and no one knows for sure what’s going on inside the base today.
The base today:
Since its inception in 1955, the base has grown dramatically, and continues to grow each year. Today, it is home to worlds largest runway, and is capable of housing a large, unknown number of people.
Step One: Planning
Before going to Area 51, you’ll want to make a plan.
- Think about your lodging. The best solution will be camping, unless you’d rather use a recreational vehicle. There is also the option of renting a trailer at the Little A’le’inn, but you will likely lose a lot of viewing opportunities staying there, so the first two options will be the better choice.
- You’re going to have to get there. Are you going to drive or fly? If driving, make sure to take a vehicle that can handle rugged terrain. This isn’t really the time to test out the off-road capabilities of your Ford Focus. Being stranded in this area could mean a long walk back to civilization. If you fly, you’ll still need a vehicle to get around, so make sure you rent something that suits your needs.
- Supplies are a necessity. Don’t plan on anything being provided. You’re going to need food, water, tents, blankets, clothes, viewing equipment and so much more. Check out the page on What to Bring for more detailed information.
- How long are you going to be there? There are a lot of things to see and do while visiting Area 51, so make sure you plan accordingly so that you can get as much in as you can during your trip.
Step Two: When You’re There
There’s a million things you can do when you visit Area 51, so it’s a good idea to know what you want to do and how much time you have.
The main question is, what are you here to do? Do you want to watch the skies for phenomena, do you want to try and get a good look at the base or are you just looking for some camping and hiking?
Well, here are some options for places to check out:
- The Black Mailbox is a famous mailbox in which many people stay to check out the night skies and watch for possible U.F.O.’s. One downfall of the Black Mailbox is that it is near a road, so there is a possibility that cars may drive by and their headlights will hinder your night vision for a period of time.
(click here for more info on the Black Mailbox)
- Campfire Hill is another decent location for sky watching, but this location is actually better for camping and a great spot if you want to have a visit by the Cammo Dudes, Area 51 border security. Don’t worry, you are well within public land, so their goal is likely centered around ruining your night vision with their high-powered spotlights.
(click here for more info on Campfire Hill)
- The Hidden Campsite is located between the Black Mailbox and Gravel Parking. The advantage of this site is that it is easily accessible, yet hidden from HWY 375–so you will get an excellent view of the night skies, without anyone bothering you, and with better night vision as lights from the nearby roadway are not as bad as at the Black Mailbox.
(click here for more info on the Hidden Campsite)
- Powerlines Overlook is one of the best places that you can go to view the night skies, but is also the most difficult place to get to. Without a four-wheel drive vehicle during the day in nice weather, your trek to Powerlines Overlook could end up in disaster. If you do venture to Powerlines Overlook, you will also be able to pick up on the base’s radio chatter.
(click here for more info on Powerlines Overlook)
- Coyote Summit is another location with decent nighttime viewing, but has the advantage of being closer to Rachel than the other locations.
(click here for more info on Coyote Summit)
The most important thing to remember when on your trip to Area 51 is to be courteous and safe. Keep an eye out for scorpions and snakes, as well as for Cammo Dudes. Do not, under any circumstances, cross the border lines. The base is too far away to make the fines or possible jail time worth your while.
Take plenty of water, batteries, food, cameras and supplies. You really don’t want to get stuck in the middle of nowhere and realize that you need direly need something. (read more about what to bring)
Be courteous to your fellow Area 51 viewers. If you see people in the area, don’t shine flashlights on them. This can ruin night vision. Also, don’t leave trash or other things behind at your campsite. Follow all rules and regulations involving waste and campfires.