To explore Death Valley we stationed ourselves in Parhump, Nevada for two weeks. While most of our attention was focused on the park itself, I have to talk a little about Parhump itself and some of the interesting odds and ends in the area around it.
The town, which is not Incorporated, has a bit less than 30,000 residents and exists today primarily as a place to service and support Las Vegas in various ways. It has the usual Nevada trait of slot machines tucked away in convinced stores, groceries and the like as well as smaller roadside casinos. It is most famous for brothels, especially the Chicken Ranch which is the closest legal brothel to Las Vegas. There are also quite a few RV parks here. Of course we are here for the natural wonders and it certainly caters to that as well, especially in the RV parks.
When we arrived the GOP primaries were getting under way the next day so we got a good sampling of the campaign adds the candidates were running. The local paper the next evening ran with the headline “Prarhum loves Trump” and indeed they did. The folks here definitely strike me as independent minded folks. Still, despite that there is a pretty strong community feeling, sticking together to remain independent. It’s something of a dichotomy that in a town famous for its brothels there is a strong evangelical presence with giant billboard proclaiming “God is watching” not far from one advertising gambling or hookers.
As a launching pad for adventures I would rate it highly. All the essentials you need are close at hand and there are quite a few great places to visit within an hour’s drive. I’d certainly rather say here than fight my way in and out of Vegas every day and the accommodations are certainly much cheaper.
On one of our adventures we traveled north to drive through Titus Canyon. Along the way we discovered quite a few local curiosities, the first of which was advertised by this sign.
We decided to give the Area 51 shop a visit. I was a little disappointing that the gift shop, diner, and brothel were not all in some way combined. While you could get from one to the other, each pretty much was a thing unto itself. The gift shop was pretty uninspired with pretty generic and cheaply made alien souvenirs. The diner looked about like any other roadside diner and we skipped the brothel all together. I was hoping for hookers dressed like aliens hanging at the diner. No such luck, the only really fun thing here is the advertising, though a little research discovered they have a “probing” room.
Further north I noticed there was a “Ghost Town” marked on our map so we took a detour to check it out. One of our motto’s is to take advantage of unplanned opportunities. Some don’t pan out like the Alien Brothel, others do. The ghost town turned out to be Rhyolite which is perhaps one of the most filmed real ghost towns in America. It’s got a nice variety of buildings in various states of decay including a rather charming Train Station that is still in pretty good shape and an old Railroad car once used as a gas station in the town.
Nearby is a strange little house build using bottles as building materials and featuring a little model town made of stucco and broken glass shards. The house was first built in 1905 and has been re-built and restored a numb er of times, most recently in 2005. While no great wonder, it was a fun thing to stumble across while exploring an old ghost town.
Perhaps best of all was the Goldwell museum which is guaranteed to catch your attention as you approach Rhyolite by virtue of the large Lego like naked lady statue on its grounds. It turns out she’s made of colorful cinder blocks and shares the ground with a number of other statues and sculptures. A small shack contains a goodly number of pictures and displays about the art, the artists, and the history of Rhyolite itself. The proprietor was also a helpful local guide and gave us some good tips about our Titus Canyon drive.
All in all the trip to the ghost town yielded a gold mine of fun little adventures and experiences, exactly what you want while exploring America. As a bonus we came upon a couple of wild burros on the way to Titus Canyon so of course we stopped to take a few glamour shots.