► AREA 51, NEVADA
When I picked up the helium from Mister Balloon in Las Vegas for Launch 3, he said, regarding restricted air space, the "military is pretty cool, but don't go anywhere near the test site." As everyone knows Area 51 is the US Air Force's black testing site. It sits adjacent to the Nevada Test Site. So a few days after launching a balloon out of the Mohave Desert in California, my brother and I set out to view Area 51 from the only place you can on the ground.
The trip to Tikaboo Peak, a 7,915 foot mountain in the Pahranagat Range, is not easy. Just to get to the remote, unpaved access road leading to the mountain is a 100 mile drive from Las Vegas. At the bottom of Upper Pahranagat Lake we exited onto Badger Valley Road, which is 24 miles of gravel and dirt through high desert cattle range. After 23.5 miles, now high up in the Pahranagats below Badger Peak, the road became impassible due to snow. From there it was a hard scramble over nasty snow covered, rocky terrain. We covered over 1,000 feet of elevation gain in just under a mile. There was no trail, though previous visitors had tied strips of caution tape and tin foil over tree branches to mark the way.
CLICK HERE, for a 4,928 pixel wide panorama shot of Area 51.