Nevada : Safety by City
- Battle Mountain
- Blue Diamond
- Boulder City
- Burning Man in Black Rock City
- Carson City
- Incline Village
- Las Vegas
- Moapa Valley
- Mount Charleston
- North Las Vegas
- Virginia City
- West Wendover
Let’s have a little fun learning about Rachel, Nevada.
Open up a new tab with Google Maps and find the city.
Then use the little man in the bottom right corner to look for a street view. Notice how the man turns into a UFO while hovering over this area?
It’s a nice touch by the folks at Google to introduce us to the UFO Capital of the World.
To call Rachel a small town is an understatement—fewer than 50 people live here, yet it’s a globally known piece of barren desert.
Whether you’re intrigued by the proximity to the “Top Secret” Area 51 base or the (alleged) UFO sightings, you’ll find this dot on the map about 100 miles north of Las Vegas on the Extraterrestrial Highway.
Rachel started out as a mining town, as many Nevada cities did, and was named after the first child born here in 1978.
In the years since the town has been the stuff of legends.
It’s also the closest city to the Nevada Test Site, also known as Area 51, where top-secret government operations are said to be.
Conspiracy theorists will say Area 51 holds all the UFO secrets.
The town is in Lincoln County, a sparsely populated area with several small towns worth exploring.
It sits in a dust bowl, of sorts, in the Sandy Springs Valley with 25 miles of flat land meeting mountains that steep in all directions.
You won’t accidentally pass Rachel, as it’s neither on the way to nor on the way from anywhere else.
You have to go looking for it, and you might find something out of this world.
Warnings & Dangers in Rachel
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low risk, but you need to be prepared for a rural drive through a relentless desert. If you aren't into UFOs, you'll be bored out of your mind here. It's a niche tourist stop, but it has been mentioned in global media for decades now.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
You need your own car. There's no getting around that. The town is only a handful of buildings, and the road is long and tedious north and south.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
This is a low risk considering you'll be only one of a handful of people there unless you're visiting for a big festival.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW
High winds, severe storms, winter storms, and extreme temperatures are the biggest risks. During the few heavy rain events, flash flooding is possible but will quickly disseminate.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
This is another low-risk, but you can never be too careful.
TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM
Area 51 is one of the most top-secret and well-guarded government and military sites in the world. That's going to make it a potential terror target, but it's also going to make it one of the best-guarded sites in the world. Technically it's a medium risk, but there's a huge government failure happening if any terrorists make it to the airspace or ground level.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
When it comes to the niche brand of UFO sightings, there's always a risk that someone will have a half-cocked idea or scam brewing. Use common sense when visiting Rachel. You can always check with the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department for any trending scams.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
This is a low risk, but you should realize you'll be in about as remote of a region as possible. Don't press the gas tank levels, and make sure you have an emergency supply kit with you.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
Bring your own bottled water since public water supplies will be few and far between out here. If you're staying at the small hotel, you can ask for their water quality testing results.
Safest Places to Visit in Rachel
Lincoln County, Nevada, has a website with several stopping points in and around Rachel.
The Travel Nevada website has a section too.
A free Lincoln County Visitors Guide is available for download without having to give any personal information.
I do want to note that outside of those resources, the websites for the businesses in Rachel look like they were designed in 1997.
I have the highest settings for secure websites on my computer since I do so much research, and I didn’t get a single warning on any of them.
Little A’Le’Inn (say that out loud to get the reference) is the only hotel here, and it only has about a dozen rooms.
The owners share this message, “We have entertained visitors from all over the world.
We love to meet new people and make new life friends as we have done over the many years.
We hope you are to be one of those new visitors and friends in the very near future.”
The Alien Cowpoke is a gas station and general store where the curious gather to talk about the oddities of the Nevada skies.
It might look like a scene setter from The Hills Have Eyes, but this is the only stop on the long expanse of highway.
The two businesses are half a mile apart, and both are worth exploring, even if you aren’t spending the night.
Your trip to Rachel should start at least 40 miles southeast at the Alien Research Center.
It’s located at the start of the Extraterrestrial Highway, also known as Highway 375.
This is also a safe spot for some stargazing when the skies are clear (which they are usually here).
The Alien Research Center has a nearly three-acre parking lot where you park yourself and look to the skies.
If you want to pick up another gimmicky UFO treat popular product for UFO seekers, try the ET Fresh Jerky stop in Hiko.
“Jerky from Area 51” is just one of the treats, with fried fruits and nuts also being sold as “universally loved.”
There’s a black mailbox along the ET Highway that has become a tourist spot.
A funny background story on it—it was once the real mailbox of a landowner who wanted solitude.
The more UFO seekers stopped at this “landmark,” the more frustrated he became.
He moved his own mailbox, and someone put this one back up.
It’s now a staple for selfies for UFO Hunters.
Worthington Mountain Wilderness is in the area just to the west of the Sandy Springs Valley.
More than 30,000 acres await.
Check the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) website to see if there are any safety risks or guidance for your visit.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service oversees the nearby Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge.
The truly amazing this about this spot is that there’s a wetland in the middle of a merciless desert.
For my gas money, I’d head to the Mt. Irish Wilderness Area, where you can see petroglyphs and walk in the primitive steps from centuries ago.
It’s located within the Basin and Range National Monument.
The rock colors in this region are just stunning.
If you wanna trade in aliens for ghosts, try the Delamar Ghost Town.
This is an old mining town that was abandoned when the mountains were picked clean.
Places to Avoid in Rachel
You’ll find plenty of travel websites and blogs that encourage you to visit the Back Gate Road entrance to Area 51.
I strongly recommend you don’t do this.
You won’t see anything of importance, and you’re traveling very close to a highly militarized zone.
At best, you’ll be watched the entire time, and your information noted; however, top-secret military members do that.
At worst, you could be greeted by guards with guns.
There is no chance you can “sneak” into or onto the buildings, base, or property.
A fence with about the clearest warnings possible surrounds the base.
Photographing military bases is illegal and likely connected to why that website owner got raided (though nobody will confirm or deny it).
Check the weather forecast before you go.
Look for issues like dust storms, wildfires, extreme heat/cold, or snow.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Rachel
- There isn’t a local police force in Rachel. The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office oversees law enforcement, and Nevada Highway Patrol polices the state roads. You can follow them @lincolncountysheriffsofficenevada and Nevada-Highway-Patrol on Facebook.
- Get a GPS system and know how to use it. There’s a low chance you’ll have mobile phone service out here. Don’t try to get a signal by waving your phone around or climbing a mountain. All you will do is drain the battery.
- This barren land is home to cattle, and they (apparently) always have the right of way. Especially at sunrise and sunset, when the sun can be blinding, you should be wary of animals on the road. They won’t get out of the way for you.
- Visiting this remote region means you should review The Dirt Road Code from the Travel Nevada tourism group. You’ll learn what kind of vehicle you need, what to pack, what to avoid, and how to have the safest travel possible.
- Don’t ask people who live and work here about Area 51. Even if they knew the nuclear codes, they wouldn’t tell you. Locals are known for being tight-lipped about anything related to the military base. If you press the topic, you might just get a visit from the FBI.
- I’ve hiked much of Nevada, and I can give you this personal piece of advice—bring several extra pairs of socks. The dust, dirt, and rocks get so embedded in socks that it just feels gross to walk in them. Extra socks also come in handy if you cut yourself and need to wrap the wound.
- Bring more water than you think you’ll need. The dry climate can leave you dehydrated faster than you realize. As the saying goes, “By the time you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.” Most of your sweat will evaporate before you even notice it. Add electrolytes to your water to replenish the nutrients you are losing.
- Find the highest sunscreen SPF possible and slather it on. Sunburns can happen here any time of year and be painful. I’ve had layers of skin peel off for days when I wore a baseball cap backward. I didn’t put sunscreen on the little hole about the closure, and it was as raw as a wound.
- Use caution at night by bringing a flashlight with a red filter. This will help your eyes stay adjusted to the dark but allow you to spot critters like snakes. If you’re camping in this area, always shake out your shoes before putting them on, as scorpions look for cool, dark spaces to chill. In that spirit, bring a blacklight with you. Scorpions glow when exposed to light.
- If you happen to be confronted by law enforcement or military personnel, just stay calm. They’re just doing their jobs, and too many people have tried to get into Area 51. It’s normal in high-security areas for routine checkpoints or stops. Don’t be belligerent or make jokes.
So... How Safe Is Rachel Really?
That depends—are you visiting by car or UFO?
Seriously, the biggest headline to come out of Rachel lately was when the webmaster of an Area 51 website was raided by federal officials.
Crime is the least of your concerns in this barren desert, but you should always keep your guard up.
Isolation can be just as concerning as being in a large crowd, based on the “what if” anxiety we build in our minds.
You can bet you’ll meet some unique characters while you’re there, and the few shop owners will be happy to tell you stories.
The fewer details you share about your personal information, the better.
For example, “I saved up my whole life to come here, and I’m not leaving until I see some aliens,” suggests that you have a lot of money and could be easily conned into “seeing aliens.”
Don’t make any jokes about visiting Area 51 or breaking through the fence, as that will be seen as a potential act of terrorism.
You never know when an FBI agent is among those “odd characters.”
Nevada weather is unique on its own, with winter temperatures that can start bitterly cold, heat up, and then plummet.
Summers can be so you that you feel like you’re baking in the sun.
Scorpions and snakes can get too close for comfort.
Planning, researching, and being properly stocked for any emergency will go a long way here.
How Does Rachel Compare?
|New York City||67|
|Sao Paulo (Brazil)||45|
|Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)||43|
|Siem Reap (Cambodia)||63|
|Phnom Penh (Cambodia)||61|
|Niagara Falls (Canada)||87|
All international tourists need a visa or visa waiver to get through customs, paired with a passport that isn't within six months of expiring. 2023 brought expedited changes to the visa process, so check the U.S. State Department website for that information.
Only the U.S. Dollar can be used here. Bring some cash in case of cash-only businesses or credit card machines being down, but credit cards should be accepted at a few vendors. Exchange currency in Las Vegas before you head to Rachel, as you won't find that option here.
Bring comfortable, breathable clothing, especially for the hot summers. A dust-eliminating face mask or even an extra COVID mask will be helpful. Slather in sunscreen and bring sunglasses. Comfortable shoes are important, and if you're a sandal or flip-flop wearer, grab ones with thick soles, so the heat doesn't melt the cheaper bottoms.
Harry Reid International Airport (formerly McCarran Airport) with the airport code LAS is two and a half hours away, and that's your closest option.
Travel insurance is important for your flight, but roadside assistance and rental car insurance are very important on this lone stretch of highway.
Rachel Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
|Temperature / Month||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep||Oct||Nov||Dec|
Nevada - Safety by City
|Burning Man in Black Rock City||70|
|North Las Vegas||54|