I Visited A Haunted Clown Motel In Nevada And, Well, It Was As Terrifying As You’d Expect

image of clown motel nevada

Things I do not enjoy: clowns and ghosts. Nevada’s Clown Motel has both in abundance, so when I tell you I did you a service by visiting, let it be known that I REALLY DID YOU A SERVICE.

The Clown Motel is in a teeny town called Tonopah. It’s about a four hour drive from Reno, which you’ve likely never thought to visit, but you really should – it might be known for being ‘Little Vegas’, but it’s actually home to some really good restaurants and honestly, the cheapest and best vintage fashion I’ve found in America. But that’s an aside – we arrived in Tonopah from Reno, and one of the first signs you see is for the infamous Clown Motel.

clown motel
Yes, there is an on-site clown museum.

So, what the hell is a Clown Motel? Well, it is what it says on the tin – a motel themed around clowns. Not in a half-assed, few-clown-pictures way. These people are really passionate about clowns, as you can see from the reception area:

When I say walking into that room gave me the heebie-jeebies emphasis on the jeebies, I mean it. I’ve been terrified of clowns since one fateful viewing of It when I was of a far too impressionable age. Do I avoid drains when walking at night? Yes. Do I fear a clown appearing behind the bed sheets when I go to collect them? You betcha.

But it’s not just a love of clowns that makes the Clown Motel so terrifying. It’s all the paranormal activity. Tonopah is an old Wild West mining town, and in 1901 a cemetery was built – you guessed it – on the site where the Clown Motel stands. Graves still stand right next to the motel, and those buried died of everything from The Plague, through to being shot in the back by vengeful spouses.

clown motel
That is some BIG haunt.

The origin of the motel, however, is quite sweet. After their father died in a mine fire and was buried in the cemetery, Leroy and Leona David opened the motel to be close to him. He was actually the avid clown collector, and they displayed his 150-odd collection in reception.

I will say, his sunnies would not be out of place in Newtown.

That collection has now grown to over 3,000 courtesy of new owner Vijay Mehar, which is a lot of clowns. When I visited, the manager told me that one of the clowns is known to move at night, and they’ll find him in a new position by morning. NO THANK YOU.

This guy moves in the night, and that does not surprise me in the slightest.

But it’s the rooms that will really get you, if you are after the paranormal experience and general clownery. I asked to see the scariest room and was given a key to this:

I mean, you’re not staying in this room unless you love lying in bed, frozen in terror are you.

That room has obviously been designed to be scary, but some are less clowny, more “terrifying spirit story”. Like Room 214, which apparently has a spirit that hides your belongings and turns the lights on and off during the night.

So obviously, the Clown Motel isn’t for everyone. But while I might be a scaredy cat, I’m sure many of you reading this love a good creepy experience with ghosts. If so, you have to go. If you love paranormal activity but can’t stomach clowns, you can stay at the nearby Mizpah Hotel – also haunted! Tonopah really hoarded all the ghosts, apparently.

If I cast my clown hatred aside, it’s pretty impressive how many different clowns they’ve managed to get in one place here.

The Mizpah Hotel has a famous ghost known as the Lady In Red. She’s so famous, they made their own wine named after her. There are also whole floors of the historic building said to have roaming ghosts of an evening, if you’re into that. Or, if you’re like me, you can beg the front desk for a “non-haunted” room and score a nice historic-vibes room with zero ghosts.

Technically, The Mizpah Hotel is the “most” haunted in Tonopah, according to their site.

So next time you’re thinking of a trip to Las Vegas or want to go on some ghost-hunting adventures, add Tonopah, Nevada to the list.

The writer travelled as a guest of Travel Nevada.