The Alien Research Center gleams in Hiko, Nev.
Nevada State Route 375, aka the Extraterrestrial Highway, may be the quickest back route from Yosemite to Utah’s Zion National Park. But the 98-mile road owes its mythic status to Area 51, the nearby military base where the government either (1) tests cutting-edge planes or (2) experiments on little green intergalactic pilots and their downed spacecraft, depending on whom you believe.
You can hear both sides argued at the Little A’Le’Inn, a UFO-themed restaurant and motel along the route in Rachel, Nev. The owner, Pat Travis-Laudenklos, has been selling Saucer Burgers and green alien-head coffee mugs to X-Files fans and kitsch-loving road trippers for 26 years. She claims to have seen a UFO herself and can direct you to the gates of Area 51 or point you toward the famous “black mailbox” (actually white) that serves as a meeting spot for sky scanners. You may find yourself drawn to the Alien Research Center—not a lab but a shop where tchotchkes slip into visitors’ cars.
Whether or not you see a spaceship, the high-desert landscape delivers out-of-this-world stargazing. “It’s so dark out here, ”Travis-Laudenklos says,“it’s like you can reach up and touch the Milky Way.” ethighway.com.
Photography by Deon Reynolds
This article was first published in March 2014. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.