Alamo, Nevada is the perfect place to blast off on an Extraterrestrial Highway adventure past Area 51 and beyond. It's also a great waypoint along the Great Basin Highway, thanks to lush, oasis-like Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, and makes an ideal overnight spot when visiting Basin and Range National Monument or the Mount Irish Wilderness.
Launchpad to Area 51 and Beyond
Located just 90 miles north of Las Vegas, the quiet farming community of Alamo, Nevada is many travelers’ introduction to stunning, park-packed, wilderness-swathed Lincoln County, on Nevada’s eastern edge—as well as to lush, watery landscapes that stand in stark contrast to the arid Mojave Desert lands that cover most of southern Nevada. Visitors enjoy wildlife watching, rockhounding, fishing, and exploring the nearby wildernesses within Basin and Range National Monument and the Mt. Irish Wilderness.
Alamo, Nevada is also the official east-side gateway town to the (in)famous Extraterrestrial Highway, one of the most iconic of Nevada’s 10 official road trips. Stock up on gas, snacks, and even some alien-themed jerky, then blast off westward on NV-375 toward Rachel, NV. For road trippers cruising the Great Basin Highway (US-93), Alamo makes a great pitstop after a visit to Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, a watery oasis that is popular with migratory birds and those who come from all over to see them.
History of Alamo
The Pahranagat Valley connects the Mojave Desert and central Nevada’s vast sagebrush steppe lands via a ribbon of lush greenery, springs, and lakes, although many of the region’s valleys were vast lake beds during the Pleistocene Era. Intriguing rock features tell geologic tales from hundreds of millions of years ago, including that of an asteroid impact that occurred during the Devonian period.
This area’s slices of basin and range topography are the ancestral homelands of the Western Shoshone and the Southern Paiute peoples. Before that, it was also the old stomping grounds of some of Nevada’s earliest human residents, the calling cards of whom can be seen in the form of thousands of petroglyphs etched into rock canvases up to 2,000 years ago—most notably in the Mt. Irish Archaeological District, the White River Narrows Historic District in the Weepah Springs Wilderness, and the spectacular Shooting Gallery petroglyph site.
The first European-American explorers showed up in the 1820s, followed by farming settlers along the Mormon Trail, and later by prospectors who established the Worthington and Pahranagat Mining Districts in the 1860s. In 2015 Basin and Range National Monument was established under the Antiquities Act, at the same time as Gold Butte and Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monuments.
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Things to Do In and Around Alamo
Just south of Alamo is Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, one of over 500 managed areas in the National Wildlife Refuge System. This beautiful oasis is made up of more than 5,000 acres of wetlands and grasslands and serves as a critical stop on the Great Pacific Migratory Route. Thousands of dozens of different species of migratory birds and waterfowl pass through the valley annually to the delight of birdwatchers.
Not too far afield, the Key-Pittman Wildlife Management Area has fantastic fishing. And if you’re into rockhounding, head about 40 minutes east to Oak Springs Trilobite Area where the fossil remains of six types of trilobites have sat encased in shale deposits since about 500 million years ago, when the area was submerged beneath the sea.
Meanwhile, Basin and Range National Monument calls to seekers of true unspoiled backcountry adventure. At just over 700,000 acres (more than three times the size of New York City), the largest of Nevada’s national monuments is a vast wonderland packed with geologic, natural, and cultural history. Golden eagles buzz peaks as desert bighorn sheep bounce around islands of sandstone—including one of Nevada’s most breathtaking natural arches—while 4,000-year-old petroglyph panels line large rock walls throughout this massive, open-ended natural playground.
For a dose of genuine Weird Nevada wonderment, roll over to RyanHenge, a bizarre and beautiful landmark that abounds with curiosity. Its centerpiece is a large, painstakingly built cement structure that serves double duty as a functioning sundial by day and a solar calendar by night, with a map of the world adorning the ground within. Other highlights include a labyrinth, oversized chess board, vintage train cars, a handful of zebras, a cute little chapel, and more—all built on a corner of the Western Elite Landfill by the company’s CEO, Ryan Williams (hence the landmark’s name). For more offbeat enjoyment, be sure to stop by E.T. Fresh Jerky and the Alien Research Center, both classic stops along the nearby Extraterrestrial Highway.
Where to Eat in Alamo
While this small community doesn’t have any traditional sit-down dining options, you can still find everything you need to appease an appetite at the Alamo Sinclair. The gas station offers plenty of standard road trip snacks, as well as meat, milk, fresh produce, cold beer, and plenty of other groceries within the small but amply stocked Great Basin Foods market. For a hot bite, Chester’s Chicken To Go satisfies with crispy fried chicken, boneless wings, wraps, burgers, potato wedges, and more, as well as burgers and even breakfast sandwiches in the AM.
Alamo, Nevada Hotels
If you’re making Alamo, Nevada your overnight HQ, you’ll find a few solid spaces to lay your head, starting with the Sunset View Inn, located just south of town. Each room has a different theme, like aliens, the Wild West, hippie vibes, and “Under the Sea”—along with all the things you need, from fridges and AC to pet areas and outdoors seating areas that show you why they named the place what they did, each and every night.
Just north of the Sinclair you’ll find the Alamo Inn, which offers 15 funky, delightfully retro rooms with plenty of comforts—two of which are big enough for entire families. Meanwhile, RV-ers can fully hook up and park rigs up to 90 feet at Picketts RV Park, which offers spotless amenities, a babbling brook to walk among, and easy access to the town’s food options.