Caveats and Warnings
While the tone of this book is often flippant and irreverent, please do take the following warnings seriously.
It can’t be emphasized strongly enough that you must avoid trespassing into any restricted area and obey all posted warning signs. Every year, people are arrested for accidentally trespassing into restricted areas such as Nevada’s Area 51. The boundary line in isolated areas may be poorly markedâ”such as orange posts located over 100 feet apartâ”and it’s easy to wander across unless you’re paying attention. And ignorance of where the boundary is will not prevent you from being arrested. In other words, don’t try to set a record for getting as close to a site’s boundary before crossing over. Play it safe and make certain you’re on public land at all times. And avoid any deliberately provocative actions, like any threatening gestures or actions toward security personnel. Those use of deadly force authorizedâ warning signs are not mere symbols; they’re for real.
You may be stopped, questioned, and even harassed by police and security services at certain locations, even when you’re on public roads or land. You might even be ordered to surrender any film, digital camera cards, video tapes, etc., to security personnel. While the legality of such actions might be dubious, any resistance on your part could result in your arrest. You might win your case at trial or on appeal, but it will be an expensive, time-consuming process (especially if you are arrested out of state). My advice is not to engage in arguments or confrontations with security or law enforcement personnel (even if you believe you’re in the right), comply with their orders, and to pursue any legal action you feel like after you’re safely home and have had the opportunity to discuss what happened with a lawyer.
Several of the listings in this book for isolated sites in the West include warnings about making sure your car is in good mechanical condition, having a spare tire, keeping your gas tank as full as possible, etc. If you haven’t previously traveled much in the hinterlands of the American West, it can be difficult to comprehend how distant gasoline, food, and emergency services can be; it’s not at all unusual to be over 100 miles from the nearest gas station or doctor, and mobile phone service is often spotty or unavailable. In other words, if you suffer a car breakdown, get stuck in sand or mud, or experience a medical emergency (like, say, a rattlesnake bite), you’re likely to be on your own for quite a while until help arrives (or you can reach help). I don’t want to frighten you away from visiting places such as Tonopah Test Range in Nevada or Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah, but 1 do want you to be prepared before leaving and to be smart when you arrive at such sites.
While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this book, things change quickly and without notice in Top Secret America. You might find access roads have been closed, boundary perimeters have changed, certain buildings may no longer be visible from the road, etc. On the other hand, some interesting new things might be going on at a location that weren’t happening when this book was written.
Top Secret America is waiting out there for you. Enjoy visiting it!
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