Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Clown Motel

Photo by Osie Turner
The infamous Clown Motel in Tonopah, Nevada, is one of the area’s most unusual roadside attractions. A clown-themed motel in the historic mining town of Tonopah, right in the middle of nowhere, and located next to an old cemetery to boot seems almost made up. But it is real; in fact you can’t miss it if you drive through the town.

I wrote a three-part article on the history and background of the Clown Motel already, so I’m not going to rehash all of the details here (links are provided at the end of this post). What I am going to focus on is my own experience while staying at the motel.

If the sign and name don’t scare you away from getting a room here, you will have to enter the lobby—where the bulk of the clown collection is to be found. Hundreds of clown figurines, masks, pictures, and various other mediums of clownery cover the walls and bookshelves. And of course the life-sized doll, Bozo the Clown, spends his days sitting in the corner greeting visitors with his unsettling smile. The staff, however, couldn’t be friendlier or more personable. Bob, the motel’s owner, is something of a local historian; he was born and raised in Tonopah and can tell you just about anything you would want to know about the town’s history.

Not afraid of clowns, are you? Photo by Osie Turner


Once you get to your room the clown imagery all but disappears. The rooms are clean, comfortable, and slightly larger than most standard motel rooms. They may have a picture or two inside that are clown-related, but nothing too overbearing or disturbing. It is easy to forget that you are staying at a clown motel once you get settled in. The rooms are simple, but all include cable tv, a microwave, and small refrigerator.

The inside of the room I stayed in. 


Rumors abound on the internet of the motel being haunted. The owner as well as the motel manager, Joe, both assured me that nothing out of the ordinary has ever happened to them in the motel. During my stay, and I was completely alone on this trip, absolutely nothing happened to me either. In fact, I got a great night’s sleep.

Around 11 pm or so, I decided to take a stroll through the cemetery that shares a lot with the motel. I found the walk to be quite peaceful; the lights from the city do reflect off of the metal name plates on the grave markers in a way that makes them look like they are giving off a weird glow, but once I understood the cause of it there was nothing unusual about the graveyard. My photo “Amongst the Shades” was taken during this walk, in fact.

This is what the cemetery looks like at night. The glow of the name plates can be seen here. Photo by Osie Turner


I have to say that staying at the Clown Motel was a great experience. On top of it being an inexpensive place to spend the night while travelling, it also gives you bragging rights to say that you have stayed at such a unique place.

The original article I wrote about the motel can be found here (each page has its own gallery of pictures I took there):