Skip to Content

Where Is Area 51 (and Is It Legal to Visit?)

Where is Area 51 (and Is It Legal to Visit?)

When it comes to mysterious places to visit, Area 51 is at the top of the list.

If you’re hoping to spot E.T. or one of his friends, you’ll need first to find where they hang out. So where is Area 51, and are you able to visit it?

Today, we want to help answer many of your questions regarding Area 51.

Let’s get started!

What Is Area 51? 

Area 51 is a highly classified military installation that has been a topic of discussion among conspiracy circles for decades. The events that have taken place at Area 51 have been so highly classified that the government disputed its existence until 2013. 

The U.S. first established Area 51 in 1955 to build its espionage program during the Cold War. The 38,400 acres in the Nevada desert have some of the longest runways in the world. It was initially the site for developing and testing the U-2 reconnaissance plane.

In September 2019, a Facebook event went viral and encouraged attendees to storm the base to pursue the truth about what happens there. More than two million users marked themselves as planning to attend, but only 1,500 made the trip.

In the end, 40 or so made their way toward the gates but dispersed when confronted by law enforcement. 

Street view of Area 51 Alien Center
Area 51 is a highly classified military installation, making it a major source for conspiracy theories.

Where Is Area 51?

In a remote section of the Southern Nevada desert lies Homey Airport, also known as Area 51. It is approximately 83 miles north-northwest of Las Vegas. The military base sits on the edge of Groom Lake, which is typically dry.

You shouldn’t expect to get anywhere remotely close to the base, as it’s heavily guarded and frequently patrolled. Expect to find signs along with the perimeter warning that all military personnel are authorized to use deadly force. 

Pro Tip: Don’t get abducted by aliens, follow our Ultimate Area 51 Raid Camping Guide.

Car being abducted by spaceship.
Area 51 is heavily guarded, however, there are tons of fun extraterrestrial sites to explore around it.

How Did Area 51 Get Its Name? 

Area 51 received its name as a result of its map location. This area around Groom Lake is the 51st area of the many areas that make up the Nevada Test Site.

Originally, Lockheed referred to the area as Paradise Ranch. They gave it this name to make the dry desert landscape sound more appealing for potential workers.

Why Is Area 51 So Secretive?

With Area 51 serving as the testing and training site for new spy equipment, the government wants to keep activity there secret. They don’t want potential enemies to access information that could put the U.S. in danger.

While many curious people want to know what happens inside the base, the country is safer because of the secrecy.

Alien being autopsied.
Is the government hiding aliens or spy equipment … OR are aliens our spy equipment?! Nobody knows what is in Area 51.

What Are Some Common Myths Surrounding Area 51? 

Because the U.S. government kept the base such a secret for so long, many conspiracy theories have developed over the years. Some locals swear to have seen UFOs nearby. There are even some who claim that aliens abducted and experimented on them.

The conspiracy theories ramped up in 1989 when Robert Lazar said he’d worked inside Area 51 on alien technology. Lazar claimed to have seen photographs of aliens from medical experiments and divulged that the U.S. government used Area 51 to examine UFOs.

Many still think Area 51 is the home of a crashed alien spacecraft and alien bodies from Roswell, N.M., in 1947. The government says it was a weather balloon, but many cling to the hope that it was an alien encounter instead.

Little girl posing with pained alien.
Trespassing on Area 51 could get you arrested so exercise caution while exploring.

No, it’s not possible to visit Area 51. The most you’ll likely see from Area 51 are plenty of no trespassing signs. As the government will use any means necessary to protect the base, you could get stopped or even arrested.

What Can You Do Around Area 51?

While it may not be possible to visit the actual military base, there’s still plenty to see and do in the area. You’ll have an out-of-this-world experience at many of these local attractions. Let’s take a look.

Scavenger Hunt on the Extraterrestrial Highway

In 2019, Travel Nevada released a scavenger hunt to help promote local tourism. By visiting each of the extraterrestrial hotspots, tourists will experience all that the Extraterrestrial Highway offers.

Whether you’re slapping a sticker on the famous ET Highway sign, taking a picture at the Alien Research Center’s massive sign, or delivering a gift to the Black Mailbox, you’ll have a wonderful time. Many of the businesses you’ll encounter along the hunt embrace everything alien-related, and you’ll leave with a phone full of fun pictures.

Area 51 Alien Center

With a limited number of fuel stations in the area, you won’t want to skip the Area 51 Alien Center. If you combine a truck stop, souvenir shop, and firework store, but with an alien twist, you get the Area 51 Alien Center.

Fill up your fuel tank and resupply snacks and water. You may even find the perfect souvenir to remember your trip by. You’ll find everything from alien-themed socks to shot glasses. 

Alien Research Center 

You can’t miss the Alien Research Center as a two-story silver alien welcomes guests at the door. The research center is the gateway to the Extraterrestrial Highway. The center is open seven days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. You’ll find plenty of options when it comes to alien apparel, hats, mugs, and magnets.

You may even get lucky enough to chat with a local and get the inside scoop of where to spot a UFO.

National Atomic Testing Museum 

When you visit the National Atomic Testing Museum, you’ll hear the story of the nuclear weapon’s testing program at the Nevada Test Site. Guests can visit various exhibits and learning activities to help grasp the importance of the work done in the area.

The 8,000-square-foot museum houses weapon artifacts and even a piece of the Berlin Wall, which marked the end of the Cold War. When you leave, you’ll have gained an appreciation for the history of atomic testing.

Sample E.T. Fresh Jerky

If you’re a fan of beef jerky, you won’t want to miss this stop. This jerky is 100% made in the USA and leaves out all the junk. This high-quality protein is the perfect road trip snack. E.T. Fresh Jerky has been offering out of this world beef jerky since 2011. No extraterrestrial beings were harmed in the making any of the products they offer.

Pro Tip: Love all things aliens? Search for different species on The Extraterrestrial Highway Road Trip Guide.

Plan Your Visit to Area 51’s Surrounding Attractions 

You may not get to lay eyes on the top-secret Area 51 military base, but you’ll likely see plenty of aliens anyway. If you’re looking for a unique road trip experience, visiting the area is sure to be just that. It’s a fun trip for all ages, and it’ll spark lots of conversations when you get back home, well beyond just “Where is Area 51?” Do you plan to visit Area 51?

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers who love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below: