Nevada Welcomes Aliens Back to Area 51 With UFO-Friendly Travel Guide

It's been barely six weeks since bombshell reports revealed that the United States Defense Department had been funding a program investigating the existence of "unidentified aerial phenomena"—UFOs—for a decade, and most have probably forgotten about it. But now the Nevada Division of Tourism is hoping the news may have sparked renewed interest in one of the state's specialties: UFOs.

In response to the news that UFOs may indeed have visited Earth, TravelNevada published a fresh itinerary welcoming extraterrestrials into the state; or more specifically, welcoming them back into the state:

"Since your last visit to Area 51, we've missed you! The whole country has missed you, which is why the U.S. Defense Department spent $22 million on a program to find you."

The itinerary itself comprises a loop through the alien-themed destinations of southern Nevada, which should take visitors about three "solar days." The whole thing is charming and a good reminder that while alien encounters fall in and out of the public discourse at the national level, in Nevada it's never really stopped since the 1947 Roswell crash kicked off our fascination with Area 51.

“Nevada really is the hub of alien activity already," Bethany Drysdale, Chief Communications Officer for the Nevada Division of Tourism, told Newsweek. "For decades people have said they’ve seen weird things in the sky on the Extraterrestrial Highway [that borders Area 51], which has been around forever and is a fun route even if you're not an alien. There’s a lot of UFO stories that come out of that part of Nevada.”

Visiting UFOs or UFO-hunters or just interested parties who happen to be passing through can tour the Alien Research Center and eat E.T. Fresh Jerky while driving on the ET Highway, which was formerly the Nevada State Route 375 and was enthusiastically renamed in 1996. Drysdale and her colleagues even got a local hotel to offer a discount to anyone who can prove that they're an alien (in theory this involves some sort of intergalactic ID card, which Drysdale said no one's yet tried to present).

“When we saw that report from The New York Times about the Defense Department, unveiling that they’d been spending money on this, and that it was spearheaded by Harry Reid, our own former senator, we figured let’s have some fun with it," Drysdale said. "Of course it's all very tongue-in-cheek; just a way of responding to a very serious thing."

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