MYSTERY WIRE — For 25 years Earthlings have been driving along the Extraterrestrial Highway, one of the best-known roads in America. It was a quarter century ago this week when the world’s only E.T. Highway was officially launched.
Nevada state officials wanted to generate tourism and new-found buzz about the secretive Area 51 base nearby, but in turn also helped promote one of the biggest alien invasion movies of all time.
The sign that marks the start of the E.T. Highway has itself become a tourist attraction over the years. The main sign is located a little over 100 miles north of Las Vegas just off Highway 93 between Alamo and Rachel.
It’s an obligatory photo-stop for visitors and gets covered with stickers every few weeks. The county had to raise the sign out of reach for most back in September 2019 before the Storm Area 51 event.
The E.T. Highway slices through the desolate beauty of the Tikaboo Valley, past the famous black mailbox, past the long dirt road that is the main entrance to Area 51, and past the rustic community of Rachel, population 63 or 67 depending on who you ask, the unofficial alien capital of the world.
On April 18, 1996, though, Rachel’s population grew as a horde of public officials, Hollywood stars, and media descended for the official dedication of the E.T. Highway.
The highway was dedicated by Nevada Governor Bob Miller and marked the launch of the hit movie “Independence Day.”
In the film, Area 51 becomes ground zero as humanity’s last hope in a battle against an alien invasion.
Despite a positive portrayal, the Pentagon declined to support the film in any way. “Ultimately, they felt that they could not fully endorse a film that had reference to Area 51,” the film’s producer Dean Devlin said during the dedication. “They (the U.S. military) had asked us to remove those references. And of course we couldn’t. And so unfortunately, we lost that military support.”
In the 25 years since the ET Highway was born, it continues to draw tourists from around the world.
Connie West manages the Little A’Le’Inn in Rachel. It is the bar and grill gift shop that reserves VIP parking for UFO’s and is home to a time capsule sealed 25 years ago on the same day as the E.T. Highway got its name.
West told Mystery Wire that the 25 years since the E.T Highway was named “has been a crazy, unique, exciting ride.”
Covid and the restrictions that came with it have slowed her business a bit, but she said the Little A’Le’Inn is seeing many more U.S. travelers visiting now, especially RV’ers and younger people traveling and working out of converted RV vans.
One not-so-otherworldly destination that is now in Rachel is a gas station. Before this it was about a 40 miles drive to the nearest pumps. West said she thinks this will only help tourism on the E.T. Highway, especially motorcycle riders that cannot carry extra fuel.
Also popular along the E.T. Highway or the Alien Research Center near the highway sign. This was also home base for a large event during Storm Area 51.
What’s next for the people who live and work along the E.T. Highway is dependent on the re-opening of the state to tourism once the Covid pandemic subsides.
West said she hopes to be planning events such as barbecue picnics and overnight sky-watching parties for people to take in the beauty of a true dark sky and just maybe, see something out of this world checking out the E.T. Highway.