Camping around Rachel
During the summer months Rachel is a popular destination for campers who come out here to explore the many old mines and ghost towns in the area, or to watch the night skies for UFOs. In fact, UFOs or not, spending a night out here in the desert, away from any light pollution, is an experience you will not forget. Many hobby astronomers come out here to take advantage of the excellent viewing conditions.
The Little A'Le'Inn in Rachel has a small trailer park with full RV hookup. The rates are between $12 and $15 per day. In summer it may be a good idea to call ahead for reservations. Please see our "Local Businesses" section for contact information.
Also, most of the land along the Extraterrestrial Highway outside of Rachel is public land. There are no fences, and you can pull off the road and camp anywhere you like. If you do, please pick up all trash before you leave. There are trash barrels along the highway at Hancock Summit, Coyote Summit, Horneys Reststop and at several other locations.
Here are a few suggestions for good camp spots along the E.T. Highway:
- Queen City Summit (NY 46.0):
At Nye county mile marker 46, just before Queen City summit coming from Rachel, there is a gravel area on the south side of the highway. A road in the back of the gravel area leads up a small hill to a fence line. There is a small camp site with a fire ring by the fence line and room to park a couple of vehicles. Good view of Sand Spring Valley and Rachel in the distance. The site is a good location to listen to Area 51 radio traffic if you have a scanner. You may be able to pick up the Rachel cell signal here. The road up the hill has some ruts but access should be possible with most vehicles.
- Rachel (LN 10.0 ):
Full RV hookup at the Little A'Le'Inn. Also plenty of level ground near the Inn to dry-camp or to pitch your tent. Ask the friendly folks at the Inn for a good spot.
Please note: The Quik Pik trailer park was closed in late 2006.
- Gravel Pit (LN 11.8):
Two miles SE of Rachel, just south of the Back Gate Road. A well maintained dirt road intersects with Hwy 375 from the north. Just north of that intersection is a large open area with a large pile of rocks. There is plenty of level ground even for large RV rigs. The site has a good view of the valley and Rachel nearby. During the aerial exercises, especially at night, it offers a great view of the light show like flares and sometimes even live drops in the next valley. Suitable for all vehicles including large campers.
- Coyote Summit (LN 16.6 ):
Just before you reach Coyote Summit coming from Rachel you will see trash barrels on both sides of the highway. There is a gravel parking area just south of the highway suitable for all vehicles. A dirt road suitable for most vehicles leads around the back side of a small hill. If you camp along the dirt road you are somewhat hidden from the highway.
- Black Mailbox (LN 29.6 ):
This is a popular spot for skywatchers, and in summer there is a good chance that you will have company here. There used to be the black mailbox of a nearby ranch here. It became part of Area 51 folklore and a traditional gathering spot for UFO watchers in the 1990's. The mailbox has since been removed but the site is still known as the "Black Mailbox" or simply as "The Mailbox". A small "shrine" has formed at the former location of the mailbox. The dirt road that intersects here with the highway leads to a ranch, and also to the mysterious Area 51, which is just behind the hills in the southwest.
If you camp here please do not block the intersection. There is a good level spot on the right, just after you turn onto the dirt road.
For more information and some photos of the Black Mailbox see the Dreamland Resort web site.
- Hidden Campsite (LN 31.7):
This is a great hidden spot for tent or car camping. Not suitable for RV's, requires a high-clearance vehicle. Look for an unmaintained dirt road leading southwest towards a small hill. It leads around the hill to a small hidden camp area in the back. Excellent private spot for skywatching at night.
- Gravel Area (LN 32.3 ):
If you are travelling with a large RV or trailer this is an excellent campsite. Access from the highway is easy, and there is plenty of level ground for several large campers. This is an excellent place for skywatching at night, but not as private as the campsite above.
- Campfire Hill (Groom Lake Road [near 13]):
This campsite is located on a small hill near the perimeter of the super-secret USAF base known as Area 51. It is on public land, but if you camp here you can almost be certain to have perimeter security visit you at night. Take Groom Lake Road at LN 34.5. After about 12 miles you will see Campfire Hill on the right, and a road leading up to its top. Requires high-clearance 4WD.
- Horneys Reststop (LN 38.1 ):
Horneys is the only "official" reststop on the E.T. Highway. There are no facilities here, but a few trees that provide some shade. Access from the highway is possible with most trailers and RVs. This is a popular campsite in summer, and there is a good chance that you will have company here.
- Powerlines Overlook (off hwy. ):
The Powerlines Overlook is located in the mountains north of the highway. It provides an incredible view over Tikaboo Valley and the surrounding mountains. There is enough level ground for several tents. Access requires a rough 4-mile 4WD ride, and a skilled driver. Take the dirt road in the back of Horneys Reststop (see above) and keep following the main traveled road. After about 4 miles you get to the overlook, where the powerlines to Rachel cross the ridge and lead down into Tikaboo Valley.
For more information and some photos of the view from here see the Dreamland Resort web site.
Note: "LN..." refers to the Lincoln County mile markers along the highway. The count starts at the Nye/Lincoln county line about 10 miles north of Rachel. The numbers in  refer to the location in our Tikaboo Valley Map.