August 2, 2019
One of the unexpected beneficiaries of the widely publicized Storm Area 51 Facebook event Sept. 20 is the small town of Rachel, Nevada. The town of 54 residents is down the road from the remote U.S. Air Force test area in the Nevada desert commonly known as Area 51.
Rachel’s only hotel and eatery, the Little A’le’Inn, is anticipating flocks of UFO enthusiasts the weekend of Sept. 20. The 10-room motel claims to be “booked solid” Sept. 19 and 20, according to it’s website.
“It doesn’t stop, our phone won’t stop ringing,” Connie West, co-owner of the Little A’le’Inn, told the Las Vegas Sun.
The town of Rachel is so small that its only gas station closed in 2006, so visitors will need to fill their tanks 50 miles away in Alamo, Nevada.
Lodging options in nearby Alamo are also similarly tight, with the town’s small number of hotels already booked or with limited availability.
More than one million people have RSVP’d to the Facebook group, which calls for people to run into the remote U.S. Air Force test area at 3 a.m. on Sept. 20.
“They can’t stop all of us,” the post says. “Let’s see them aliens.”
The military has warned visitors not to try to enter the formerly top-secret site, which is patrolled as part of the vast Nevada Test and Training Range.
In 2013, the CIA declassified documents referring to the 8,000-square-mile installation by name, and locating it near the dry Groom Lake bed on a map. The base has been a testing ground for top-secret aircraft including the U-2 spy plane and the B-2 stealth bomber.
Lincoln County Sheriff Kerry Lee told the Associated Press that he doesn’t expect many people to actually show up. County spokesman Ben Rowley said there are 184 hotel rooms in the county but that 500 to 1,000 sudden visitors could create traffic, parking and congestion problems. There are only 26 sworn sheriff’s deputies and around 5,000 permanent residents in the county, mostly in rural towns like Caliente, Pioche, Panaca and Alamo.
Visitors looking for more upscale accommodations may choose to stay in Las Vegas, a two-hour drive from Rachel.
“I think this started out as a joke, but there may be enough people taking it seriously and it could be a problem,” the sheriff said. “Someone is going to get hurt and people may go to jail. It’s not anything to joke about.”
For comments, questions or concerns, please contact David Cohen