Aside from our time in Nashville at the National Trust conference we spent each night of our recent road trip in a different motel. We'd usually roll into town way past dark and by lunch the next day it was sometimes hard to remember specific details about last night's motel. Little did we know that our last night on the road would be one we'll never forget.
We began the day in Flagstaff, Arizona with the goal of making it as far north as we could. Our "must see" for the day was in Pahrump, Nevada - one of the last remaining Texaco Big Friend statues (mission accomplished). We hung around Pahrump until dark at which point we decided it was too early to call it a night so we headed north on Hwy 160 up to Hwy 95. If you're familiar with Highway 95 you'll know there's not much out there to see. In the pitch black there's even less. Well, there are deer to constantly watch for but that doesn't necessarily fall into the "fun" category. It also tends to cap your top speed at around 47 mph.
After a few more hours and only one town we decided it was time to find somewhere to call it a night. Out came the atlas and bingo, coming up was the town of Goldfield. For those of you familiar with the town please stop laughing - we'd never been there:-) Ok, strike one. Next up Tonopah. As we came into town our hopes were high based on the fact there were lights on. We took a drive through town to see what our lodging options might be. First a casino and second a very expensive chain motel. As we approached the edge of town there was one more lighted sign before what looked like miles of blackness...
"Does that sign say The Clown Motel?"
"Um, how far is the next town?"
"Las Vegas is 215 miles behind us, Reno 240 miles ahead"
"That's really far isn't it?"
"It's almost midnight...We could ask to see a room"
We found a spot to park and asked to see a room. The gal working couldn't have been nicer and we were off to take a look at a room. The room was just fine, the rates were incredibly reasonable, and at that point we realized that not every day offers the chance to stay at a motel like the Clown. Since we had arrived quite late it would be the next morning before we had a chance to fully look around. So, here we go!
We immediately found the clown riding the chopper sign to be pretty awesome.
Above each of the beds in our room were reminders that the Clown had moved beyond pastel landscapes for artwork.
The next morning we also took a look out the window to see what the scenery was like.
"Hey, did you see what was next to the office when we checked in last night?"
"I'm pretty sure it's a cemetery"
"And did you notice the hundreds of clowns in the office last night?"
"No, I was too tired"
"You're in for a treat!"
The office features the Clown Motel collection of over 300 clowns. Front and center was this big fella. Our mascot Stinky still looks a little unsure at this point.
One of the many shelves of clowns in the office.
Some of the clown artwork displayed in the office.
Clowns of every imaginable type in the collection.
I have no idea on this one.
And even more clowns!
Next door to the Clown office is the Tonopah Cemetery. It dates to the period of 1901 to 1911 and appears to contain many former Tonopah residents who were victims of mining accidents.
The cemetery seemed to be quite well-cared for and was also very peaceful in the early morning sun.
So, if you ever find yourself passing through Tonopah, Nevada and are in need of a place to stay take a look at the Clown Motel. It might not be your everyday motel but that's part of the fun of a road trip!
Jeff & Kelly
You can't fool me, I see Stinky trying to fit in with those clowns, but he's too cool. This place is a riot, thanks for taking the dare and staying there- I find trying to find an indie /Retro Roadmap type of place to stay can be the dicey-est part of any road trip.
Send in the Clowns, indeed!
Mod Betty - It really is tough sometimes to sort the good from the bad when looking at mom and pop motels along the road. Usually though, even if it's bad you end up with some great road trip stories:-)
P.S. Stinky says "Hello"
Great post! I thought you were going to say the cemetery was full of dead clowns, like a Stephen King novel. Oh and congrats on your page in Preservation magazine. Looking good!
Gunnar and Sherry - I wonder if there is a dedicated clown cemetery anywhere in the country? Maybe somewhere around Florida...
Thanks for the kind words on the Preservation feature - we were very happy to be mentioned!
Ok, you did it again. I'm still chuckling after reading this post! My sister in law has a real issue with clowns...I'm sending her the link for this place right away, haha!
Love the cemetery pics--what a lovely little plot. Yes, I know how that sounds. Yes, I do. ;-)
Happy fall you two!
Wow, this place is crazy! (and a little creepy too). What a fun post!
Tina - Perhaps a gift certificate for a weekend at the Clown could be the perfect stocking stuffer this Christmas? :-)
The Cottage Cheese - Glad you enjoyed reading about the Clown Motel. It's one of the more unique themes we've run across so far!
That place is one nuclear reaction/strange eclipse away from being a great horror film! Thanks for sharing!
Jenny - Ha! Glad you enjoyed it. Needless to say if you're ever passing through:-)
I just came across your blog while looking for info to begin another of my own road trips. Hope you don't mind someone you don't know following! Follow me too if you like.
About the Clown Motel... I'm not one with a clownphobia but I have to admit, this place does look very scary. I'd love to visit during daylight but probably not stay over night! Thanks for sharing your story!
So I have stopped at this Motel on a road trip back to FL. It was just myself and my dog. I did not notice the cemetery that night but my dog barked all night. I felt like I was in a Steven King movie. I did not find the cemetery beautiful that morning. I could not leave fast enough and did not enjoy the free coffee.
Nice piece. Thanks!
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