Local anchors:

White Bus

Area 51 Front Gate

The road to the front gate is long and dusty, but good enough to travel at the rated speed (45 MPH) most of its length. This view is from route 375 looking down Groom Road. The puffs of smoke are the dust trails from vehicles going down the road. I parked near the entrance of the road for about an hour just to see if anyone official looking used the road. All I saw were passenger cars that did the loop. Someone should come up with a hand signal for the tourists to use to wave at other vehicles making the pilgrimage. Unless anyone has a better idea, I suggest giving the old Vulcan "Live Long and Prosper" salute.

the long road to get to the front gate of area 51

After collecting a quarter inch of dust on your rear bumper, you will eventually arrive at the front gate of Area 51. The warning signs will be the first thing you see. I suggest having a telephoto lens on your camera if you want to take any photographs. Since photographs of these signs are all over the internet, I suspect the prohibition of photography rule is not strictly enforced.

You can read about the Internal Security Act at http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/50/797.html and the restrictions against photography at http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/18/795.html .


warning signs at the front gate of area 51

Warning Signs January 2010

Note the paved (sealed) road at the right side of the photograph.
Area 51 warning

small text on Area
      51 warning sign

small text on Area
      51 warning sign

Older winter photograph 

This photo at the front gate shows that some people can head straight past the warning signs, and some people have to make a U-turn. Note the orange stick at the right of the photo  is a border marker.

January 2010 photograph. Note the black road surface. It is more of a sealed surface than real pavement since they didn't put down a layer of stone. Yes, that is some sort of ground fog.

warning signs and
        new road surface

Animal tracks in the snow (January 2010)

OK, OK, just maybe I'm starting to believe those space alien rumors.... Then again, there is that Springsteen song about the one-legged dog...
animal tracks in the
      snow at the front gate of Area 51

Snow on cactus

This is just plain wrong!
snow on cactus

White Bus

The "white bus" takes the local Groom Lake workers back to Alamo or their not so secret parking area near the intersection of 93 and 317. The folklore often claims the windows are painted black, but actually they are just tinted. The photograph was taken from "Campfire Hill" in October 2015 at around 4:45PM local time.
white bus on Groom Lake road 2015

Now a closer examination yields something interesting under the bus. Antenna perhaps?
object under the white bus groom lake road 2015


This is a telescope photo of one of the security cameras near the front gate. There is both a VHF and microwave antenna in use. All the RF links point to Bald Mountain. The microwave antenna is somewhat different from older photos, and was changed probably in the year 2000. The camera mount does not appear to be motorized, so the camera must point to a critical area.


Cameras January 2010

Area 51 front gate

Click here for a more detailed version of the image above.

The camera is from Cohu, so the cameras were upgraded. Hey, time marches on. 
Area 51 front gate

Click here for a more detailed version of the photograph above.

This is the tall observation tower which was added in late 2008. It is similar to the one at the back gate. This photograph was taken from Groom Lake Road. The tower is visible at a spot where you can view between two hills.  The tallest point on the tower is a red strobe light. This would be handy if there was air traffic nearby. The caterpillar on the right side of the tower is a "early streamer" device that some believe prevents lighting strikes. The camera with PTZ (pan tilt zoom) is on the left side of the tower.  
tall observation
      tower at the front gate of area 51

The front gate is a tourist trap and thus one would expect new items appearing in the area to show up on the interwebs, meaning your's truly doesn't have to bother photographing the area. Well these small white things have popped up since my last front gate visit in 2010. (Photograph taken October 2015)
white things at the Groom Lake front gate 2015

The camo dudes sometimes don't wear camouflage. 


On the hill towards your left while facing the signs will be the EG&G security, AKA the camo dudes. This telescope photo was shot in Jan 2001, which explains the snow on the ground. Note how the camo dude blocks his face just to make sure I don't get a good shot. That looks like a coffee auto mug clipped to the window, perhaps so that the coffee does not steam the window.

The camo dude originally was watching me from an usual spot near Groom Road.

Like the mail carriers of the US Post Office, the camo dudes work day and night, rain or shine. While they prefer Hawkeye Hill during the day, their favorite location at night is a hill towards your right if you are parked in the main parking area just before the border. [The lot is next to a sign that reads "keep right."] Spotting their location at night is quite simple if you are observant. While you driving down Groom Lake Road, the camo dudes always flick on their dome lights when you are about two miles from the border, probably to jot down in their logs that a visitor has approached. Make a mental note of this location during your drive since eventually the camo dudes will black out their vehicle. 

Using night vision, the camo dude truck is easy to spot, though it helps to remember where you saw their dome light on the way to the border. These two photos were done with video frame capture of Russian second generation night vision. The photo on the left was done with just star light, while the photo on the right was done after the moon had risen. The images were cropped so that the camo dude truck is in the center. What may appear to be a fence are just a few tall cacti.


The image below was processed by summing 11 frames of video using ImageJ. The two lights in the sky were flashing and probably airplanes, though it is hard to tell if the plane is over the base or the distant air route near highway 6.

There is a faint red light beyond the border that can be spotted from the main parking area if you are located to the right of the very tall Joshua tree looking at the low spot between the hills.  It looks like a blow torch with night vision. Using a telescope, you can see there are actually two lights close to each other. Then again, it might be something of Madonna's.....

I was lucky enough to be checked out by the Pave Hawk security helicopter. 

Scramble Database - Query Results
You searched for Serial = '90-26222'     The query returned 1 record(s)
 Serial   Code   Type   CN   Unit   Status   First   Last   Comment 
90-26222     HH-60G   70.1543   Ogden ALC   act   aug93   jan01   Probably based somewhere in Nevada.  

This photo is not the set of Quake 4, but rather a 4 minute exposure  (Fuji Provia 100F film) taken near the entrance to Groom Road, looking away from the base. The intent was to see if any usual patterns would show up in the sky that didn't look like star trails. While some did show up, what they are from is subject to debate. Note the objects at the right of the photo are heading horizontal, while the objects at the left of the photo are headed upwards in the same directions, and are most likely stars.

The very observant will notice that thus far you haven't seen a gate but just warning signs. The gate is hidden beyond the hills, but if you carefully climb the hill towards the west, you can see the guard shack. The photo below was taken in October 2002. You can see an older photo of the guard shack that was taken during the People's Rally 2000 here. The only difference is it seems the camo dudes now have Dish Network or Direct TV. 

You can click on the photo below to get a very high resolution image in the djvu format. (decoder is a free download).

Some of the signs in the above photo are kind of interesting. At first I thought this sign said "Welcome", but lo and behold it says "Warning!" Of course, if you made it this far, the camo dudes hot on your tail should be the first clue that you are in trouble, but the warning sign couldn't hurt.

This sign, seen leaving the base, indicates the fire condition. [The sign reads Wildland Fire Danger Today.] Presumably this is for the camo dudes, since few other users of the base will be driving off-road.