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Ever since we discovered the existence of a little place called The Clown Motel, we knew we had to go. I mean, it’s world famous. We finally got our chance last summer when we set off on a road trip from Missouri to California and back. This motel in Tonopah, Nevada, is decorated with clowns inside and out, and if that’s not creepy enough, it’s also right next door to an old cemetery. Seems like the perfect place to get a restful night’s sleep, right?

The Clown Motel Lobby and Gift Shop

The Clown Motel

We’d just spent two nights in Yosemite National Park, so we arrived from the west. The Clown Motel is one of the first things you see as you pull into town from that direction. I have to admit, it was a welcome sight after driving through some pretty bland areas. I know. Yosemite spoiled us!

Even if you don’t stay a night, stopping by to check out the museum and gift shop is totally worth it. We pulled into the near-empty parking lot on a June afternoon, ready for–well, anything.

The Clown Motel

As you walk towards the door of the lobby, you’ll see this sign. “Are You Still Want to Enter?” I’m not completely sure.

I’m not sure anything can prepare you for the sheer number of clowns in this lobby. Below is the clown featured in Ghost Adventures that appeared to have moved his hand on his own. And what happened to the finger?

The Clown Motel

If you want to see the clip from Ghost Adventures, here it is. The hand part starts at about 2:35.

Here is another clip that shows more of the clowns in the lobby. The front desk has since moved, and I think the lobby has been expanded. You’ll also notice that the place has had a new paint job since the episode aired.

When we arrived, the host was on the phone with another customer, so we walked around, enjoying the sights.

The Clown Motel

Uh, no. I don’t think I will have a seat here and make myself comfortable.

The Clown Motel

I think every clown ever created is represented in this place. I’m not scared of clowns, per se. I am scared of haunted hotels and paranormal activity in general, though.

Kristin and Jeff love a good horror movie, with or without clowns.

The Clown Motel

Soon, we were able to check in. We were handed an actual metal key to the room that would be ours for the night– the It room. There are five themed rooms; all but one pay tribute to horror movies. There are also suites and standard rooms. If you’re going to stay here, you may as well go all in and book a themed room, so we did. Click here to learn more about the themed rooms.

Our Room at the Clown Motel: The It Room

The Clown Motel The It Room

We decided to stick to the clown theme, so we chose the It room.

The Clown Motel The It Room

This room means business. Clowns are everywhere.

The Clown Motel The It Room

It’s not luxurious, but it’s not bad for a roadside motel. The fridge is exceptionally large, and we had a microwave.

The Clown Motel The It Room

Aside from the clowns everywhere and the vibrant color scheme, it’s not unlike other roadside motels we’ve tried. We often mix things up; we’ll stay at our favorite chains, but we like interesting accommodations from time to time for the experience. The TV is newer.

The Clown Motel The It Room

There is some wear and tear, but the owners have been working on the place.

The Clown Motel The It Room

Here is something not clown-related. This skull on the shelf above the hangers was motion-activated. I had Jeff put a stop to that. The last thing I needed was to have a heart attack in the night if I went to the bathroom.

The Clown Motel The It Room

If the room isn’t enough, you can indulge in some light reading before you attempt to go to sleep.

The Clown Motel The It Room

The Old Tonopah Cemetery Next Door

Tonopah Cemetery

You can’t miss the cemetery right next door to the motel. Old Tonopah Cemetery is an interesting place to walk around, haunted or not. In recent years, the Central Nevada Historical Society has replaced headstones and listed the causes of death when they could. Several miners died in a mine fire in 1911, and other citizens died from diseases and accidents, as people do. For a small fee, you can purchase a guide right at the cemetery to learn more about the people buried there. Click here to read more.

Tonopah Cemetery

Getting a Taste of Tonopah

Tonopah Historic Mining Park

Tonopah Hisotric Mining Park

One interesting attraction in Tonopah is the Tonopah Historic Mining Park. Here you can learn about the area’s silver and gold mining history.

Tonopah Hisotric Mining Park

We drove up to the visitor’s center, but sadly, we arrived in town too late to explore this attraction.

Tonopah Hisotric Mining Park

It did look like a fascinating place. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to check it out in the morning, either. We planned to drive the Exterrestial Highway and then head on to our reservation just outside of Zion National Park.

Tonopah Brewing Company

Tonopah Brewing Company

After a brief visit to the Tonopah Historic Mining Park, we decided we were hungry. After some digging around on the Internet, we found a brewery with barbecue. We love a good barbecue joint, so Tonopah Brewing Company it was!

Tonopah Brewing Company

We didn’t sample any of the brews this time, but we certainly were in the mood to eat. We love sampling house-made sauces on our visits.

Tonopah Brewing Company

I can’t resist homemade onion rings. These went perfectly with my pulled-pork sandwich. And no, I couldn’t eat it all.

Tonopah Brewing Company

Kristin loves her ribs.

Tonopah Brewing Company

Jeff always wants to sample a little of all the meats. I think he had ribs, turkey, and pork. We had so much food; none of us left hungry!

Tonopah Brewing Company

The Mizpah Hotel

The Mitzpah Hotel

After dinner, Jeff and I did a little exploring. If the town didn’t have the Clown Motel, I’d certainly book a room at the historic Mizpah Hotel. It’s haunted, too.

The Mitzpah Hotel

The hotel has two restaurants on-site; one is named for the boxer James Dempsey and the other is a cafe named for Senator Key Pittman, so we decided we could walk around the lobby and guest areas on the first floor without intruding too much. The historic decor transports you to another time. You can walk through the safe vault door to see a small museum.

The Mitzpah Hotel

Opening in 1907, the Mizpah Hotel was the place to stay for the wealthy wishing to see what is referred to as the high desert in Nevada. Later in the 1940s, a casino opened on site. Wyatt Earp is said to have been a guest, and Howard Hughes was married there. Canceled checks of other famous people adorn the walls in the hallways. Below is one from Carol Burnett.

The Mitzpah Hotel

The most famous ghost at the Mizpah is known as The Lady in Red. Apparently, she was a prostitute who had customers at the Mizpah who was killed in the hotel by either a customer or her husband, depending on which story you hear. Now, her apparition may pay you a visit, especially if you stay in the suite named for her.

The Mitzpah Hotel

Another historic hotel in town that is open to guests is the Belvada Hotel. We didn’t go inside since it was getting late, but I love that this town is revitalizing its historic buildings and sharing its history.

The Mitzpah Hotel

The Clown Motel at Night

The Clown Motel

When we returned to the room, it was night. Time to walk around the old cemetery. Naturally.

The Clown Motel

We didn’t catch anything unusual or experience anything out of the ordinary. As usual when we sleep somewhere haunted, I had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. I mean, I don’t know what the problem is with this next to my bed.

The Clown Motel

I’m always certain that a ghost will be standing next to my bed. It hasn’t happened yet, and I hope it never does. In the meantime, I’ll still stay at haunted hotels; I simply can’t resist.

Tonopah was a cool place to explore, and I’d encourage anyone to give it a day or night to check it out. The history is interesting, and the town puts you about an hour away from the start of one end of the Exterrestial Highway. It’s a great stop as you travel through to destinations in Nevada and California.

To read about some of our other adventures on this road trip, click the links below.

El Rancho Hotel in Gallup, New Mexico

Dreamcatcher Tour in Monument Valley

Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Clown in the Clown Motel
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14 Comments

  1. Whoa! What a fascinating place to stay the night! Between the Clown Motel, the cemetery and the haunted Mizpah hotel, I don’t think I would’ve been able to sleep at all. It’s intriguing though.

  2. Oh, wow! You and your family are very brave. I’m not sure I would have liked spending the night at the Clown Motel, but I loved that you shared the inside of the room. The red, retro refrigerator is very pretty. I’ve seen those at Home Depot.
    Glad Kristen is an older child, or I’m sure you may have chosen another motel. Overall, what did she think about it?
    Lots of history here. Thanks for sharing with us.

    • Stacey Reply

      It’s funny, Kristin likes this kind of thing. She goes on ghost tours with us, too. She slept like a baby. Ha!

  3. This was such a fun read!! I have heard of this Clown Motel before but never had the chance to really look into it, so I’m glad I came across your blog post. What a fun…and kinda creepy…adventure! I love all of the added info about the surrounding areas. Super interesting!

  4. On the one hand, I think “What a unique experience!” and on the other hand, I’m like “nope.”, Hah! Really though, what a fun experience to stay a night at a clown motel!

  5. Okay, that is so creepy. I’m sure I wouldn’t get any sleep staying a night at the clown motel.

  6. CREEPY! Staying the night in a clown motel may not be for those with a deep fear of clowns! I for one would not get a wink of sleep. Perhaps that is just the draw that is needed to make it the cool place to stay?

  7. Tonopah, Nevada is quite the place! While I’m not sure if I could stay at the Clown Motel (I was cringing the whole time reading your post…clowns are scary!), I would like to check out the Old Tonopah Cemetery.

  8. Ummmm, no thank you 😅. The Clown Motel definitely takes on the creep factor!

  9. I had never heard of the Clown Motel until now! I would totally stay there if I could find someone to join me- LOL

  10. That is so creepy! In fact one of the clowns are wearing the Halloween outfit I got my daughter! What a crazy place to visit.

  11. Good for you for staying at The Clown Motel. Your photos had me a bit freaked out. LOL Then you said it was next to a cemetery. I trust this would be a great place to visit during Halloween. Love that they put clown books in the room for you to read.

  12. Cindy Moore Reply

    I saw that episode about this hotel and the cemetery! I’ll stay in a moderately haunted hotel but I couldn’t do this one. I don’t like dolls or clowns or ventriloquist dummies. I had scary experiences as an intuitive child. I’ve seen these things move on their own.

  13. Lisa, Casey, Barrett Dog Reply

    Y’all are brave! While we will not stay at anything with clowns, your Night at The Clown Motel did sound fun!

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