The Extraterrestrial Highway
Even though it's growing faster than the Blob, Las Vegas still ends abruptly after you leave Interstate 15 and head north on Highway 93. The sudden transition from urban sprawl to vast untouched desert terrain made us feel as though we'd been beamed to another planet. Could it explain why real aliens land in Nevada? Do these otherworldly vistas and fantastic rock formations make ETs feel at home? These seemed like appropriate issues to ponder as we tooled north past the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge toward the eastern terminus of the Extraterrestrial Highway.
Our first stop was Alamo, the last town "with services" before the turn-off for the ET Highway. We topped up our gas tank at the Chevron station (corner of Highway 93 and Broadway) and bought snacks in the nicely stocked grocery store there.
We braked again just after we turned west at Crystal Springs. To the left of a huge cottonwood tree stands the much-photographed government-sanctioned Extraterrestrial Highway sign. It's been there since 1996, when Nevada governor Bob Miller officially bestowed the glamorous new moniker on Nevada Highway 375. By clever design, the road's christening coincided with the release of "Independence Day," Twentieth Century Fox's blockbuster movie about invading aliens. The Nevada Commission on Tourism exploited the attendant hoopla to promote the renamed road, and Lincoln County's best-known tourist attraction was born. Of course, ufologists and government conspiracy theorists needed no new highway signs. Ever since the U.S. government created Area 51 in late 1950s, the two-lane blacktop connecting Highway 93 and Highway 6 has been a favored destination for UFO believers and skeptics alike.