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Nevada’s Creepy Clown Motel Will Haunt Your Dreams

Ghosts, clowns, and cemetery hauntings included with stay.

clown motel tonopah

Ever wanted to own your very own haunted clown motel? Now’s your chance. Nevada’s infamous creepy clown motel, located about two hours outside Las Vegas, is up for grabs. For $900,000, it could be yours—as long as you agree to keeping the motel up, running, and filled with clown likenesses. 

The Clown Motel is a favorite pit stop for truckers, bikers, and others passing through the desert. Since Ghost Adventures paid it a visit, it’s also become a popular destination for those seeking the paranormal. When visitors pull up, they’re met with a colorful glowing neon sign with “Clown Motel” written in red block letters and a massive clown face, grinning with open arms, welcoming its visitors. Once they step inside the lobby they are greeted by the countless staring faces of clown dolls of all shapes and sizes. Most notably, Ronald McDonald, who is sprawled across the couch. Not just one, but four different versions of him. Zeebo hangs in a cage behind the counter. 

The rooms themselves are a bit less crowded than the lobby. Still, decorative, decrepit clowns hang outside each room door, and inside sit portraits of some of the most famous clowns. 

Related: These 10 Scary Clowns Are Guaranteed to be in Your Nightmares 

The history of these haunted grounds is no less creepy. Like so many other mining towns, Tonopah endured a series of booms and disasters. Although it was never considered a ghost town, its population has dropped dramatically since its heyday. 

This once thriving mining town was then populated by more than 50,000 people, but is now called home by under 2,500 residents. Tonopah’s silver rush was the second-richest silver strike in Nevada’s history. However, the silver didn’t last forever, and neither did the people mining it. They’re buried in the Old Tonopah Cemetery, founded in 1901.

The cemetery, which can be seen from some of the Clown Motel’s rooms, is considered equally, or perhaps more, haunted than the hotel. It closed  only ten years after opening when the increasing number of dead outnumbered the plots the cemetery had to offer. Inside its gates lay 300 deceased. Among them are the victims of a mysterious “Tonopah Plague” which swept through the area in 1902, fourteen miners who died in a fire in 1911 and the pioneer residents who spent their years building Tonopah. 

clown motel tonopah
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  • The clown collection in the lobby.

    Photo Credit: Will Keightley / Flickr

The Clown Motel was founded by Leona and LeRoy David in 1985. They chose the location next to the cemetery because it’s where their family was buried. They decorated the walls with their clown collection and ran the place until 1995, when they sold to Bob Perchetti. 

The ghostly reviews are mixed. Some visitors have reported interactions with spirits: doors slamming, room keys gone missing, mysterious voices. However, there are an equal number of accounts claiming their experience consisted of nothing but spotty wifi and a meager continental breakfast. Reports of strange occurrences have also come from the neighboring Mizpah Hotel and Silver Rim Elementary School. It seems these ghosts are picky when choosing who they reveal themselves to – although all who enter will be haunted by the sheer number of clown iconography.

Related: Showmen's Rest: The Deadly Hammond Circus Train Wreck of 1918 

One bold writer, fascinated by the reports of hauntings and the clowns, decided that he simply had to see what the experience was like. In 2015, Christopher Sebela created a Kickstarter to fund his month-long stay in the Clown Motel. His goal? To experience the supernatural and write a book about it.

$10,000 worth of pledges later, Sebela was able to live his dream. On September 30, he checked in and began writing about his experiences. If you’re curious about his month there, you can read about it in either comic or book form.

Regardless of the actual hauntedness of the motel, the location has been made famous by being a favorite for filming sets including Clown Motel, about a group of young people who find themselves taking refuge in a strange motel in the middle of the desert and unknowingly release an evil clown spirit who wrecks havoc on their stay. 

The eclectic and haunted history and its pure originality have made the Clown Motel famous, likely behind the wildest dreams of its owners. Have you ever heard of another clown motel in the middle of a Nevada desert? Even if you’re not ready for the big purchase that will make the motel your own, visitors say the trip to Tonopah’s Clown Motel is well worth your time.

Feature photo: Wikimedia Commons; Additional photo: Will Keightley / Flickr (CC)