California Has its Own Area 51 and it is Fascinating

Area 51 is a widely known secret military facility in Nevada, giving rise to numerous conspiracy theories and legends. However, California has its own counterpart called the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station.

It stands as the world’s largest naval installation, spanning over 1.1 million acres in the Mojave Desert. China Lake harbors some of the most advanced and covert weapons and aircraft development programs within the US military, boasting a history as rich and enigmatic as that of Area 51.

Historical Background

Established in 1943 as a testing ground for rockets and missiles under the California Institute of Technology’s (Caltech) direction, China Lake derived its name from the dry lake beds serving as natural runways for experimental aircraft.

Key accomplishments at China Lake include the development of the Sidewinder air-to-air missile, the Shrike anti-radar missile, the Tomahawk cruise missile, the Standard surface-to-air missile, and the Penguin anti-ship missile. Furthermore, the base played a pivotal role in the space program, witnessing the first successful launch of a rocket into orbit, the Bumper 8, in 1950.

Secrecy and Divisions

Similar to Area 51, China Lake is veiled in secrecy and tight security, comprising two main sections: the North Range and the South Range. The North Range, where most weapons testing and research occur, is strictly off-limits to the public and the majority of military personnel.

In contrast, the South Range houses administrative and support facilities, offering a relatively more accessible but still restricted area. Various rumors and speculations surround China Lake, including tales of underground tunnels, bunkers, alien encounters, mind control experiments, and nuclear explosions. Some claims are grounded in declassified documents, eyewitness accounts, or leaked information, while others are purely fictitious or exaggerated.

Intrigue and Attractions

China Lake proves to be a captivating destination for those intrigued by military history, technology, or mystery. The base hosts a museum showcasing weapons, aircraft, and the base’s history and culture, welcoming the public with advanced reservations and security checks.

Additionally, China Lake features an annual air show held in March or April, offering a glimpse of modern and vintage aircraft, along with demonstrations and displays by the Navy and other military branches. The air show is open to the public and free of charge.


The China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station stands as a hidden gem in the California desert, housing some of the most remarkable and clandestine military projects. It represents a hub of innovation, discovery, and mystery, deserving more attention and recognition.

China Lake is not merely California’s Area 51; it transcends such comparisons, embodying a unique intersection of history, science, and adventure.


This Small Mississippi Town was Named One of the Coolest in the U.S.

Leave a Comment