AREA 51: How To See Groom Lake Airbase Without Getting Busted.

WHAT: Tikaboo Peak, Nevada. How To See Area 51

As far as mountains go, Tikaboo Peak, Nevada, is not particularly special. However, the fact that it’s the only viewpoint from which civilians can see Groom lake, makes hiking to area 51’s Tikaboo Peak something of a sacred pilgrimage in the UFO community.

Since construction began in 1942, the US Government has never been too keen on Joe public getting eyes on Area 51. This is precisely why they built it way out on a remote, inaccessible, dry lake bed surrounded by mountains. Their plan worked. At least until Bob Lazar showed up.

At the time, Lazar was a young, gifted scientist. His job supposedly involved reverse-engineering captured UFOs to learn how they worked. Bob decided to prove his claims one starry night by inviting buddies on a clandestine mountain hike to watch and film an extraterrestrial airshow over the Groom Lake skies. They all got busted.

As a result, Lazar promptly appeared in the crosshairs of the US intelligence machine. Now an enemy of the state, the only effective life insurance policy, decided Lazar, was to take his knowledge public. In May 1989, he appeared in an interview with investigative reporter George Knapp on a Las Vegas TV station under the pseudonym “Dennis.” Almost overnight, an ultra-secret military base in the Nevada desert exploded into public consciousness. Area 51 soared to the top of the UFO community travel itinerary and cemented its position in American folklore. The US Government was not thrilled.

Access Denied

In a desperate bid to thwart civilian access, the US government immediately began an aggressive land grab. They seized “White Sides” mountain, “Freedom Ridge.” and any other real estate offering a vantage point on the Groom lake base. They sequestered it all. All except for a single spot: Tikaboo peak, Nevada.

Twenty-six miles east of Groom lake, Tikaboo peak, Nevada is now the only place the public can lay eyes on Area 51. However, getting to Tikaboo peak requires some serious off-roading followed by an arduous uphill trek.

tikaboo peak area 51
Area 51 through a zoom lens from Tikaboo Peak.  Photo Credit:


After turning off US-93, your first challenge begins; a 25-mile potholed dirt road that requires a suitable 4WD vehicle. At the end of this road, all that’s left is a short but grueling 2km hike on sliding shale.  Hiking to Area 51’s viewpoint isn’t overly difficult, but you’ll still need to be in decent shape. The gradient varies from moderate to brutal and includes an ultra-steep 400m elevation spike. Bushes and trees signify you’re nearly there.

Nevertheless, keep your eyes open. If there’s any point at which you’re likely to lose the trail, this is it. Keep heading uphill, and eventually, you’ll hit a small platform with flat ground below, perfect for camping. Welcome to Tikaboo peak. If the skies are clear, then Area 51 should be viewable.

If you’ve made it in one piece, remember that Groom lake base is rumored to boast the most advanced spy technology on earth. It’s reasonable to assume you’ve already popped up on cameras, radars, movement and heat sensors, and other exotic surveillance gizmos you never knew existed. Luckily, you’ve broken zero laws. This means you’re free to break out the binoculars, zoom lens, camping equipment, and hunker down for a day and night overlooking one of the most heavily guarded, mysterious locations in the United States.


tikaboo peak area 51
The hike to Tikaboo Peak is brutal. But the views are spectacular. Photo Credit: Hank Leukart

In addition to a burning desire to see Groom lake, hiking to Area 51’s only viewing platform will require physical fitness, a 4wd, drinking water, food, tools, and a spare tire. When you binoculars, sunscreen, and camping equipment if necessary. Days can be scorching and the nights bitter cold, particularly between November and March, when the snow can be prohibitive.


Lincoln County, Nevada, United States. Coordinates: 37°20′39″N 115°21′32″W.


tikaboo peak area 51 map
Photo Credit: Google Earth

Assuming you don’t set foot directly on US Air Force land, the biggest risk is your vehicle breaking down. The danger of this is greater in the winter when mud or snow might trap you and nighttime temperatures fall well below freezing. There’s no traffic, zero cell service, and if your vehicle conks out, it’s a helluva hike back to civilization.


tikaboo peak area 51 base
Photo Credit: Google Earth

Are you a physics legend, or an intelligence agency big shot? Or, can you afford to charter an aircraft to the very edges of Area 51’s restricted airspace? If the answer is no, then hiking to Tikaboo peak offers the best possible Area 51 mountain view without breaking the law. Although your chances of seeing E.T are slim to none, it’s the mystery and the history of the place that make Tikaboo Peak worth the trip.


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