Daria Bachmann
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In the Middle of the Nevada’s Desert Sits America’s Scariest Motel

And it’s still for sale...




Are you brave enough to sleep in a room full of clown images? Or walk through a lobby where thousands of clowns stare at you from shelves, tables, and chairs?

Welcome to the Clown Motel, America's scariest motel that sits in a funky, mining town of Tonopah in the middle of the barren Nevada desert. Located along the main drag, the motel gets plenty of visitors who often stop to take pictures of the iconic establishment.

Right outside the motel, the illuminated sign features a juggling clown who promises clean rooms and welcomes truckers, pet owners and other clients.

And if clowns don’t scare you, right next to the motel sits the Old Tonopah Cemetery. Once a thriving mining town, Tonopah used to have a population of close to 50,000 people as prospects rushed in to look for silver in the tar hills.

The Old Tonopah Cemetery houses around 300 corpses many of whom were the first residents of the town. Among those buried here are the victims of the 1902 Tonopah plague, a mysterious disease that claimed a number of lives—Tom Logan, a local sheriff who was gunned down during a shoot-out outside a brothel and the many miners who were working in the area.

In 1911, the devastating fire destroyed the Tonopah-Belmont mine and killed a number of people, all of whom were buried at the cemetery. Rumor has it that the cemetery is haunted as the miner's ghost occasionally wanders around.

Today, Tonopah is a dusty small town halfway between Reno and Las Vegas with a population of just over 1,200 people. It often serves as a pit-stop for truckers and long-term haulers.

If you still decide to spend the night at the Clown Motel, take a step inside the lobby that has thousands of clowns in different sizes, shapes, and colors. Here you can find hundreds of clown figurines in different shapes and forms with eerie smiles and seemingly innocent facial expressions.

The biggest of them, a life-size red clown slumped in a chair greets visitors with his sinister grin.

But there's at least one person who isn't scared of this place. The motel’s owner, Bob Perchetti, a long-time resident of Tonopah, is proud of the clown collection that he has amassed over the years and says that people mail him clowns from all over the world. Unlike some who visit his establishment, Perchetti isn't scared of clowns and wants to make sure that his legacy continues to live on.

Every room has pictures of clowns on the walls and even on the doors, so after taking a walk around it becomes clear why Clown Motel has been dubbed America’s scariest motel.

The motel was up for sale for close to a $1 million recently in July 2017, but no buyer has come forward yet. When I talked to Perchetti, he told me that he wants to make sure that whoever buys the motel, preserves his collection and continues to build on it.

But if you are short on cash, don't despair. You can purchase some clown-themed merchandise including T-shirts and various trinkets right at the front desk. 

For those who need to stay in Tonopah, but are too scared to spend the night at the Clown Motel, the town still has plenty of other options some which also have rich and possibly haunted history. 

Across the road sits the historic Mizpah Hotel, a charismatic wild west locale, where some claim the Lady in Red, a spirit of a young woman killed at the hotel often can be seen wandering around.

If you are up for an adventure and like to test your courage, I'm sure you won't be bored in Tonopah. 

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In the Middle of the Nevada’s Desert Sits America’s Scariest Motel
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