If you find yourself in Nevada, you are probably here to enjoy the state’s two major attractions—world famous gambling and entertainment in Las Vegas and Reno, or for amazing outdoor recreation in places like Lake Mead or Lake Tahoe. But while you’re here, don’t overlook some of the more unique aspects of Nevada travel; specifically, some of the quirky, offbeat things that you won’t encounter anyplace else. Consider visiting the following two areas if you have the time.
Some of Nevada’s quirkiest nuggets are out in the middle of the desert. The Extraterrestrial Highway is one these; a 98 mile stretch of highway famous for its proximity to “Area 51,” a top secret military base believed by UFO enthusiasts to be a testing ground for alien technologies. The highway’s name was officially designated in 1996 due to the high number of reported UFO sightings in the area. The only town along the lonely desert stretch is Rachel, where a small restaurant fully embraces the UFO theme, selling “Alien burgers” and a plethora of alien merchandise. The Extraterrestrial Highway begins about 2 hours north of Las Vegas, or 1 hour east of Tonopah, NV.
Another offbeat Nevada travel gem is the ghost town of Ryholite, located about 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas. This mining town boomed into existence in 1905 and grew to a peak population of several thousand by 1908. The town boasted several banks, a stock exchange, concrete sidewalks, school, hospital, newspapers and thriving businesses. By 1916 after years of decline in fruitful mining, power and electricity were pulled from the city, and by 1920 it was a ghost town. Today it is a popular stop for tourists visiting the east entrance of Death Valley, or for those driving between Reno and Las Vegas. Visitors are drawn by oddities such as the Tom Kelly Bottle House, built in 1906 from 50,000 used beer, liquor, and medicine bottles. The house is one of the few buildings still standing in Ryholite today. Ryholite has also become an unlikely destination for artists, after the Belgian artist Albert Szukalski created and installed open air sculptures outside the town. These sculptures and others are preserved in the Goldwell Open Air Museum which is open to the public 24/7.