It all started on Facebook—and ended at a remote town in the Nevada desert. On June 27, 2019, 21-year-old Matty Roberts of Bakersfield, California created the now infamous “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us” event with a half-hearted desire to “see them aliens.” Two million people clicked “attending.” 

The joke transformed from a serious concern for the secretive government installation into an alien-themed music festival that ultimately attracted 3,000 people, only about 200 of whom actually made a run at the gates of Area 51. 

The bizarre, entertaining spectacle may have caught the rest of the country by surprise, but to local Nevadans, Area 51 is nothing new. Las Vegas is approximately 150 miles away from the entrance to Area 51. In fact, unmarked passenger aircrafts shuttle employees to the classified base from a private terminal at McCarran Airport almost every day. If you’re curious about making your own trip to Area 51 from Las Vegas, here’s what you should know.

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Getting There
Rent a car from Las Vegas and make the approximately two and a half hour drive to Rachel. Along the way, you’ll see stark high desert scenery. Keep an eye out for wild horses and pronghorn antelope among the sagebrush. There are few services along the appropriately named Extraterrestrial Highway, so make sure you have a full tank of gas plus water and snacks. Alternatively, you can book an Area 51 tour from Las Vegas. Yes, that’s really a thing. 

Things to Do in Rachel
The Little A’Le’Inn is the main attraction in Rachel (to be honest, it’s kind of the only attraction in Rachel). Marked by a flying saucer and a green alien holding a sign that says “Welcome earthlings,” the Little A’Le’Inn is a souvenir shop/restaurant/bar/motel. Check out the photos of alien sightings on the wall, buy a t-shirt and have a cocktail at the bar. 

Camp for free or rent a motel room, and spend the night stargazing—aka looking for mysterious lights from Area 51. There’s also geocaching, hiking and wildlife viewing. 

Visiting Area 51
The outer perimeter of Area 51 is patrolled by a mysterious team of security officers who typically drive white Jeeps and are colloquially referred to as “cammo dudes.” Try to cross the threshold of Area 51 and you will find them barreling towards you. Avoid spending the night in a Lincoln County jail cell by staying on the other side of the gateway. You can still see the infamous “Warning: Military Installation” signs. Technically you can’t photograph these, but they’re all over Instagram, so you be the judge.

Area 51 in Las Vegas
Even if you can’t make it to Rachel, you can still get your extraterrestrial fix all over the Silver State. The lonesome backcountry roads of Nevada are dotted with Area 51-themed attractions, including alien beef jerky stands, alien gas stations and even an alien-themed brothel in Amargosa Valley (“the final frontier of sexual adventure”). In Las Vegas, the National Atomic Testing Museum offers some information about Area 51, as well as related exhibits about underground nuclear testing, atomic blasts and military installations. 

While it’s impossible to say whether the truth about Area 51 will ever be revealed (Are they actually working on weather control? Why is the alleged extraterrestrial employee named, of all things, J-Rod?), visiting the peculiar destination is certainly a worthwhile endeavor on your next trip to Las Vegas—and if you’re one of the two million people who clicked “attending” on the Storm Area 51 event but didn’t go, there’s no time like the present.