From any point within the "city limits," the entire town is visible.
Save for a few outlying ranches and cabins, it consists of nothing
more than trailers and shoddily-built frame structures lining Highway
375. At the southern edge of town, completely opposite the Little
A'Le'Inn, is the Area 51 Research Center. Despite what
the owners and experts' there may tell you, this is nothing
more than a tourist trap, a vending outpost that just happens to
dispense confidential' military and extraterrestrial
knowledge in generous (and expensive) doses. There's something
less charming, and more serious (perhaps delusional) about the Research
Center, and it starts with the junked pile of scrap metal and derelict
aircraft parts scattered beside the Center's front door. It
carries over into the research trailer, as the denizens dispense
"watch the skies" hoopla with a stiff upper lip that makes the whole
An occasional vehicle, usually a pickup truck complete with gun
rack and dog in tow, will blow through the town, shaking up the
dust that invariably settles on the road. The only other visitors,
aside from the ranchers and tourists, are the occasional ominous
dense desert fog, and perhaps aliens from outer space.
The setting begs the inevitable question: what do the people of
Rachel think? It's impossible to speak for the town as a whole,
but the overwhelming impression is this: they do believe. And they
have every right to believe: these residents have seen more than
their fair share of bizarre occurrences.
Eerie lights and deafening roars are known to sweep through the
desert in the dead of night. One resident told of a strange beam
of light piercing an iron door at a local café, illuminating
the doorjamb. And then there was the heavily-publicized case of
the two Las Vegas women who drove up to Rachel to investigate the
UFO rumors. Their car became lost in the dusty, mirage-like maze
of dirt roads that snake through the mountain ranges, and they came
up missing. Their car was found days later, burned-out and abandoned.
The women were never seen again.
For years the government swore that Area 51 didn't exist.
Military brass did their damnedest to prevent stories of the top-secret
compound from leaking out into the open. Gradually, however, the
cover was blown. A disgruntled Nellis employee here, a wayward tourist
there, and the advent of the Internet all helped spell doom for
the base's strict secrecy.
The result was an unparalleled media frenzy which put the peculiar
little burg of Rachel on the map forever. In conjunction with the
50th anniversary of the alleged crash of an alien craft
outside Roswell, New Mexico (the remains of that crash, alien theorists
say, are still kept in the hermetically-sealed bunker at Nellis),
Rachel played host to a slew of UFO-related festivals and conferences.
Television came scrambling to capitalize on the phenomenon: Montell
Williams, Larry King Live, and even a PBS Sightings'
special were filmed in and around Rachel. Things would never be
the same, for alien-seekers and military officials alike.
The Travises, and their charming Inn, represent just one facet
of this tiny, remarkable hamlet. On the outskirts of town, just
off the Extraterrestrial Highway, is an Area 51 landmark, known
to conspiracy buffs the world over.