Nye County destinations have topped Travel Nevada’s inaugural “Seven Weirdest Wonders” list.
The state tourism organization says a few local sites are among those that “can transform vacationers by opening their eyes to things they never imagined.”
The list released ahead of National Plan for Vacation Day 2022, a day that encourages people to plan their well-earned time off, includes Clown Motel in Tonopah and Goldwell Open Air Museum in Beatty.
It was curated by Travel Nevada’s team of experts who traveled to every corner of the state before making their picks.
It includes historic, man-made, and natural places that have to be visited to be believed, all destinations specifically chosen for 2022 – as travel is expected to rebound to pre-pandemic levels, these locations will help visitors make up for lost time.
Also on the list are Republic of Molossia, a sovereign country just to the east of Carson City; International Car Forest of the Last Church, an open-air gallery that comprises more than 40 graffitied cars; Garnet Hill – a semi-precious gemstone treasure hunt meets extinct volcano; the gateway to the world-famous Extraterrestrial Highway, the Alien Research Center; and the Fly Geyser.
Here’s a complete list of places that made the Seven Weirdest Wonders List:
■ Republic of Molossia – Want to experience international travel but not ready to really travel overseas?Just a few minutes east of Nevada’s capital, Molossia has been an official, independent, sovereign country inside of Nevada for more than 40 years. With 6.3 acres, Molossia has its own bizarre laws, as well as currency that’s tied to the value of cookie dough. Visitors can even have their passport stamped, as it’s recognized as a micronation.
■ International Car Forest of the Last Church – This open-air gallery comprises more than 40 graffitied cars, each a unique masterpiece. The “forest” has no artist statement or bulletin, so visitors are free to interpret the surrounding art in limitless ways.
■ Clown Motel – Located next to a historic cemetery, Clown Motel in Tonopah is the perfect place to get over your fear of clowns — or maybe make it worse? We’ll let you decide. No matter your goal, this motel has arguably the largest private collection of clown-themed memorabilia, and is a landmark that makes Nevada unique.
■ Goldwell Open Air Museum – Among some of the world’s most distinctive pieces of experiential art is the Goldwell Open Air Museum. More an “experience” than a “museum,” Goldwell boasts seven colossal structures, including a ghostly, life-size version of Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper; a 25-foot pink woman constructed of cinder blocks; and a gleaming tangle of chrome car accessories.
■ Garnet Hill – Think semi-precious gemstone treasure hunt meets extinct volcano. This incredible public recreation area has drawn national attention for its beautifully rich, dark red garnets, which were scattered after a volcano erupted 32-40 million years ago. While these garnets may not be the kind you find in your favorite jewelry store, the chance to hand-pick gems scattered atop high-desert dirt makes for fun memories — and free souvenirs!
■ Alien Research Center – Almost everyone has heard of Area 51. While you definitely can’t storm it (seriously, you’ll be arrested before you can say “ET”), you can go inside the Alien Research Center and get a feel for what those little green creatures might have found after crash-landing in the area. As the gateway to the world-famous Extraterrestrial Highway, the Alien Research Center is the perfect way to start your own alien hunt. Extraterrestrial enthusiasts and skeptics alike won’t want to miss stopping at the gift shop to stock up on various alien-related knick-knacks at this one-of-a-kind Nevada experience.
■ Fly Geyser – Imagine digging a hole in the middle of the desert and suddenly getting sprayed by hot water as if you hit a pipe. You walk away, only to learn that years later, that hole is still spewing, but is now a 12-foot geyser with a rainbow of colored rocks surrounding it. That’s essentially how Fly Geyser came to be, and, after more than 100 years since the first “pipe” was hit, people can still come see this ever-spewing natural fountain in all its beauty.
“Travelers are looking to visit places that satisfy their curiosity, and this list includes attractions that are lesser known in the broader travel industry. These are places that only exist in Nevada, making them especially rare and appealing for travelers looking for great travel stories,” Tracie Barnthouse with Travel Nevada said.
Barnthouse said that Travel Nevada wanted to spotlight places that can only be found in the Silver State.
“Fortunately, there are plenty of options to choose from in Nevada, and while we couldn’t possibly include them all in one list, these seven are especially relevant to what travelers are craving in 2022 – transformative experiences and off-the-beaten-path gems,” Barnthouse said.
Travelers are reminded to bring a charged phone to take photographic evidence of what they’ve seen and encountered, according to the press release. To share stories with others who’ve experienced the Seven Weirdest Wonders, visitors can tag #WeirdNevada.
“This list includes places that span the state, which encourages visitors (and Nevada residents) to explore our unique and amazing rural towns and public lands,” Barnthouse said. “The land around many of these places provides amazing outdoor recreation opportunities, so we hope travelers will take their time and explore the town beyond the places on the list. We will continue to promote all the incredible opportunities Nevada has for travelers throughout the year via our various marketing initiatives.”