If you find yourself in the middle of the Nevada desert on Route 375, there’s no need to phone home. Instead, stop in to the Little A’le’Inn, a roadside inn that provides food, lodging and all-things UFO. Route 375, known as the Extraterrestrial Highway, is a stretch of road that runs near Area 51, the infamous and highly classified United States Air Force Base believed to maintain regular study and contact with aliens and their spacecraft.
Established in 1990, the Little A’Le’Inn is family owned and operated. When owners Pat and Connie relocated to the tiny desert town of Rachel, Nevada, they embraced the area’s affinity for all things aliens. The tiny town, with a population of only 54, is the closest habitation to Area 51, recently becoming a destination itself after the naming of the Extraterrestrial Highway in 1996 and the growing conspiracies about the surrounding area.
Unsurprisingly, the origin of the name Area 51 is also shrouded in mystery.
Originally thought to be derived from the Atomic Energy Commission numbering grid, that simple solution was quickly debunked as the Air Force Base is not actually part of that system. According to the CIA, official names for the facility include Homey Airport or Groom Lake, but documentation from the Vietnam War has surfaced bearing the name “Area 51” – and the official answer remains somewhat vague.
In 1955, the CIA opened the Groom Lake test facility to test reconnaissance aircraft, and as the military increased its aerial experimentation, there was a spike in UFO sightings. They would occur during early evening hours or coincide with experimental projects like U-2 and OXCART programs. Many former employees and veterans have since alleged that their top-secret work at Area 51 inadvertently prompted many of the sightings and related rumors.
In the decades to come, the purpose of Area 51 and its connection to extraterrestrial life remained unclear, thus creating a culture of conspiracy-driven curiosity. While the base continued to operate, the town of Rachel attracted all kinds of Earthlings from the alien obsessed to major Hollywood producers. In 1996, scenes from the alien epic “Independence Day” were shot around the corner from the Little A’Le’Inn, and the film’s studio 20th Century Fox chose to bury a time capsule in town as a beacon for those visiting Nevada. The capsule is set to be opened in 2050 A.D.
Since the 1990s, the Little A’Le’Inn and the town of Rachel have continued to serve as a stop for those seeking otherworldly discoveries in Nevada’s vast deserts and skies. Inside the inn, earthly visitors will find a bar, gift shop, and overnight accommodations. The hotel portion has five units, but campsites are also available for those who would rather sleep under the stars and perhaps snag a UFO sighting of their own.
Story: Kelly Murray