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11 Roadside Stops On The Way To Vegas Worth Pulling Over For

There are so many strange and beautiful things to see out in the desert, you're going to have to get out on the open road and do some exploring for yourself. But if you need some inspiration, check out these weird and wild places. #MapsRoadTrip

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1. Zzyzx Road

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Let's start with the famous Zzyzx Road. The strange name comes from Curtis Howe Springer in 1944. Then, it was the Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Healing Center — he wanted "Zzyzx" to be the last word in the English language. He also used this "health resort" to hustle his radio listeners into donating money.

Where: Exit 239 off I-15

2. Nevada Test Site

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The Nevada Test Site was originally constructed to test atomic bombs. Built as part of "Operation Teacup," the site features an entire small town populated by test-dummy mannequins built in 1955 to test bomb fallout. While monthly tours are available, visitors are not allowed to take any photos, as this is still an active government test site (though no longer used to study bombs).

Where: Lathrop Wells Gate Road off US-95

3. Area 51

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Speaking of the atomic age and shadowy government facilities, why not check out Area 51? The purpose of this top-secret Air Force base built into the side of a mountain is still publicly unknown, though some believe it to be used for testing experimental aircraft known as "black projects." You can't take tours or even get too close due to government restrictions, but this clandestine base known for its unconfirmed connections to Roswell and aliens is very cool to observe from a distance.

Where: Back Gate Road off Extraterrestrial Highway

4. The Neon Boneyard

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As part of Las Vegas's Neon Museum, the Neon Boneyard is where old neon signs go to roost. Known for its glitz and glamor, this is where Vegas's shining beacons go to retire, and tours serve as both a unique inspiration and a tour through the city's storied past.

Where: Las Vegas Boulevard and McWilliams Avenue

6. The World's Tallest Thermometer

Jose and Roxanne (CC BY 2.0) / Via Flickr: nyc_xmas

Standing at 134 feet, the World's Tallest Thermometer in Baker, California, is hard to miss on your drive to Vegas. It's towered over the Mojave Desert for nearly 25 years and remains a popular pit stop for sunbaked travelers. Talk about Fahren-height!

Where: Exit 246 off I-15

10. The International Car Forest of the Last Church

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Artist Mark Rippie began this installation with a single car buried vertically in the sand until Chad Sorg drove by and was inspired to help Rippie really bring the forest to life. Now comprised of over 50 automobiles, the forest looks more like a druidic henge rather than your average church, but that doesn't make it any less mesmerizing.

Where: Crystal Avenue off US-95

11. Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch

Tony Hisgett / CC BY 2.0 / Via

Moving on to another type of forest, Elmer started collecting old and vintage bottles with his father in the early 1950s. Today, their collection has come together in this spectacular work of outsider art that turns trash into "trees" in the California desert.

Where: Exit 153A off I-15

Visit these and other roadside stops when Google Maps takes travelers on an epic #MapsRoadTrip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas July 22–23. 🚗 🌵

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