During our travels last summer, my husband and I spotted an Omega Mart sticker mingling among a barrage of others on the official Extraterrestrial Highway sign in Crystal Springs, Nevada. Named in 1996 for its proximity to the mysterious Area 51 military complex, the sign marks the entrance to the 98-mile State Route 375.
I don’t know who stuck it there, or why, but it seems like a fitting tribute to Omega Mart, a cryptic 52,000-square-foot exhibit at Area 51’s palindromic Area 15, 112 miles away in Las Vegas.
Fun fact: The practically sky-high, 3-foot by 8-foot sign features a silhouette of the Stealth bomber in the lower right corner. It was installed in 2019, replacing a much shorter version, which was rendered unreadable by, (drumroll please), too many stickers.
I should also probably mention that placing stickers on property in Nevada without permission is considered vandalism, and may come with penalties, so don’t do it (even if it did inspire this blog post).
A road by any other name
Despite their similar names, Area 15 (fifteen) and Area 51 (fifty-one) have nothing to do with another.
This is a quirky mega-mall of activities in Las Vegas, off Interstate-15, near Spring Mountain Road. Omega Mart, from New Mexico art collective Meow Wolf, is the anchor exhibit. The overall complex also includes public art, fun shops, axe throwing, arcade games, VR, AR, and actual bonified R, as well as restaurants, bars, a distillery tour, festival grounds and amusement rides.
Omega Mart at Area 15 is more than meets the eye. I particularly love the stuff in plain sight, like Honey Clumps of Hmm… cereal, Plausible Deniability laundry detergent and a bag of plastic toy horses called “Weird Dogs” (all available for purchase). Visitors explore consumerism, conspiracy and creativity as well as literal and metaphorical portals, including a three story slide that transports you playground-style to the exhibit’s ground floor.
This is a top-secret section of a U.S. Air Force base, paralleling the E.T. Highway. It has been the subject of many documentaries and podcasts on aliens. The remote highway itself, and the scant businesses along it, inspire visitation from curious road trippers from around the world (like me).
You may remember when more than 2 million people RSVPd via a joke Facebook invite to storm Area 51 in 2019. If you don’t, check out this article I wrote: A Viral Area 51 Event Shook a Small Nevada Town. Could it Happen Again?
The closest Nevada town to the heavily guarded back gate of Area 51 is the Rachel, home to the Little A’le’Inn.
Please note: While Omega Mart at Area 15 is big on portals, Area 51 itself is not the best place to pop out of a space-time vortex.
Beam me up
Conspiracy theorists believe scientists at Area 51 are developing time travel and teleportation technology (Source: Time magazine). Some believe Area 51 houses and has reverse-engineered flying saucers from a mysterious crash in Roswell, New Mexico in 1974. Others think aliens are kicking it there.
Not so, according to former President Bill Clinton.
“There’s no aliens that I know [of].”
– William Jefferson Clinton (about Area 51)
The saxy ex-commander-in-chief recently went on “The Late Late Show with James Corden” and mentioned looking into Area 51 during his presidency. There were no aliens at the base, he told the talk show host, describing it as a site for “invisibility research.”
Still, there are many claims of UFO sightings along the E.T. Highway.
If only the cows could talk.
Desolate desert wilderness fills most of the drive between Las Vegas and the E.T. Highway, via U.S. 93. There aren’t any gas stations or other public stops until you get to Alamo, and cell coverage is sparse.
As someone who drives this route a few times a year, a portal between the two sounds like a good idea. I enjoy the drive, to be honest, but sometimes a girl just wants to grab a quick bag of E.T. Fresh Jerky.
Portal tourism would be a real boon for the vast state of Nevada. While space tourism missions by Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and SpaceX are pretty impressive, teleportation makes them seem prehistoric.
Reality Check: Portal tourism isn’t a thing, to the best of this writer’s knowledge. So teleporting between Omega Mart Las Vegas and the E.T. Highway is a no go (at least for the time being).
In addition to Omega Mart, which I highly endorse (adult tickets are $57), Meow Wolf has an exhibition, House of Eternal Return, in Santa Fe, NM, not too far from Roswell.
So, where’s that portal located?
Something to think about that the next time you’re munching on a naturally boneless bowl of Honey Clumps of Hmm….