We Drove The Extraterrestrial Highway—Here’s What We Found [VIDEO]

UFOs? Aliens? Watch to find out.

UFOs, “alien jerky,” haunted hotels: Is this the weirdest road trip in America? Come with us on a drive down Nevada State Route 375—a.k.a. the Extraterrestrial Highway or ET Highway—and see what we discovered.


Hey, you guys, it’s Tiana. Today I’m going to be taking you guys down Nevada Route 375, also known as the extraterrestrial highway. While I can’t guarantee we’re going to see any little green men today, I can guarantee that we’re going to see things like an alien research center, a couple of ghost towns, and the closest town to area 51.

I am coming to you this fine morning from the town of Ely. That’s ee-lie, not Eli. Now, if you haven’t heard of the E. T. Highway, it’s essentially a roughly 500 miles route that generally starts on Las Vegas, heads up to Tonapa, and then, in my case, ends in Ely. And the story goes that along this particular highway, a lot of UFO sightings have occurred. Seeing extraterrestrials is a pretty regular thing.

Assuming you’re driving north from Las Vegas, your first stop will be et fresh jerky, which sits roughly one and a half hours away from Sin City. It’s pretty hard to miss, given the alien murals and the legion of crashed spaceships right outside, including this giant one, which may be one of my favorite roadside attractions of all time. Who doesn’t want to be an intergalactic hitchhiker? ET fresh jerky has been humbly serving visitors to the Milky Way since 2011. You’ll want to stop in for some of their homemade alien jerky, sign one of their walls to commemorate your visit to this corner of the galaxy, and stock up on some extremely quirky souvenirs like stuffed toys, novelty hats, and alien mugs, before hitting the road again.

As you exit ET fresh jerky, you’ll want to head straight across the road and head west on Route 375 to continue your trip. This will officially put you on the extraterrestrial highway, as indicated by an excellent photo op. The ET highway sign. From there, continue straight down the road for about ten minutes until you see this massive silver building.

The alien Research center. Okay, y’all, we are now right down the road from the galaxy’s favorite jerky spot at the UFO Research center. But before we go in there, I have to show this off. We are currently right on the edge of Area 51. In fact, back in 2019, this served as the meeting place for the movement to storm Area 51, which went viral online. This is, of course, why they have this massive alien standing guard right out front. Inside, you’ll find a smattering of weird memorabilia, including some t shirts to prove that you’ve traveled to, or at least have gotten very close to the country’s most infamous air force base.

From the alien research center, continue right down Route 375 for a while. If you suddenly feel like you’re in one of those dreams where you’re running toward a door, but the door isn’t getting any closer, don’t worry, it’s not you. It’s just the desert. But look sharp because your next stop is coming up on your left, and if you’re not paying attention, you might miss it.

Given it’s so close to Area 51, the black mailbox has long been a gathering place for alleged alien abductees and those who just want to believe this actually isn’t the original. Funny enough, it used to belong to a man named Steve Medlin, who didn’t even believe in aliens. Medlin got so tired of people messing with his mail that he moved his mailbox closer to home and put this one here for the UFO obsessed to commute at. Take a look inside to see what OD notes people have left, or leave one of your own before heading out again.

Once you’ve driven another 30 minutes or so through the desert, you’ll come across the nearest town to Area 51, Rachel, Nevada, and one of the most famous rest stops in the solar system, the little alien.

When you’re driving from the little black mailbox, you’re going to be driving for like 20 minutes up the road and you’re going to think that the desert will never end until the very last split second. Rachel’s going to come up on your left, so just make sure to keep an eye out because it felt like a mirage appearing out of the desert. Inside the little alien, you can sit down for some of their world famous alien burgers topped with alien sauce, and strike up a conversation with the other UFO chasers and locals at the bar. You can even stay the night if sleeping next door to Area 51 feels like your best shot at spotting a spaceship in action.

Another hour and a half down the highway, you’ll hit your final stop on the ET highway for the day. Tonapa, Nevada, an old mining town that’s commonly known for its amazing stargazing. Here, you can either head to the Tonapa Star park for some stargazing in town or sign up for a tour with a local astronomer like Russ Gartz, who will show you the ropes when it comes to getting an amazing glimpse of the cosmos. Although Tonopah just about wraps up the out of this world attractions, there are a few places left in town and along the road back to Vegas that are certainly otherworldly if you’re feeling brave, stay for a night or two at the Mitzpah Hotel, often referred to as the most haunted hotel in America. Or try a stay at the equally terrifying world famous clown motel, which is home to a collection of more than 3000 clowns, some of them nice and some not so nice.

Between Tanapa and Vegas, there’s also the Area 51 travel center, a combination gas stop and, yes, alien themed brothel. What better way to signal that you’re about to arrive back in Spin City?

If you do decide to road trip the extraterrestrial highway, here are a few quick tips to make sure you have a smooth ride.

For this road trip, we’d recommend budgeting at least three or four days, especially if you want to stay overnight at the unusual hotels in the area, or tack on even more stops like Cathedral Gorge State park, the wild western town of Ely, and of course, Las Vegas.

Since cell service can get spotty out in the desert, it we’d recommend downloading a map of the area before you head out.

It’s also wise to stock up on snacks, water and a phone charger to keep you going during the drive. And last but not least, if you do see a UFO, remember to take some photos for the rest of us.


  • Tiana Attride - Host
  • Claudia Cardia - Video Editor
  • Jessie Beck - AFAR Producer
  • Elizabeth See - Designer
  • Sarika Bansal - Editorial Director
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  • Tiana Attride - AFAR Social Editor
Tiana Attride is Afar’s social media editor. Previously, she’s worked on content and audience development at Vogue, Thrillist, Away, and Insider.
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