In the heart of Nevada, a state known for its vast deserts, vibrant nightlife, and intriguing history, lies a place that combines the macabre with the whimsical: the Clown Motel. Located in the small town of Tonopah, this unusual establishment has earned a reputation as one of America’s eeriest and most unique motels. With its clown-themed decor and proximity to an old cemetery, the Clown Motel has become a focal point of local legends and paranormal lore, attracting curious travelers and ghost hunters alike.

Origins of the Clown Motel

The Clown Motel was established in 1985 by siblings Leona and Leroy David in memory of their late father, Clarence David, a clown enthusiast who left behind a significant collection of clown memorabilia. The motel started with a modest array of clown decorations and quickly gained attention due to its unique theme.

Tonopah itself has a rich history, having been founded during a silver rush in the early 20th century. The town experienced a boom-and-bust cycle typical of mining communities, leaving behind a legacy of ghost towns and historical sites. The Clown Motel’s location, adjacent to the historic Tonopah Cemetery, further deepened its connection to the town’s storied past.

The Clown Motel Experience

From the moment visitors arrive at the Clown Motel, they are greeted by an array of clown statues, paintings, and figurines. The office is a veritable museum of clown memorabilia, with shelves and display cases filled with everything from cheerful jesters to sinister-looking clowns. Each room in the motel is decorated with clown-themed artwork, creating an atmosphere that is both whimsical and unsettling.

The proximity to the Tonopah Cemetery, which dates back to 1901, adds an eerie element to the motel’s charm. Many of the graves belong to miners who perished in the nearby Belmont Mine Fire of 1911, and local lore suggests that their spirits may still linger in the area.

Paranormal Activity and Local Legends

The Clown Motel has been the subject of numerous paranormal investigations and ghost hunting tours, with many visitors reporting strange occurrences and ghostly encounters. Common claims include:

  1. Mysterious Noises: Guests have reported hearing unexplained footsteps, whispers, and laughter in the middle of the night, even when no one else is around.
  2. Shadowy Figures: Several visitors have claimed to see shadowy figures moving around the motel and the adjacent cemetery, sometimes glimpsing them from the corners of their eyes or in reflections.
  3. Cold Spots and Sensations: Sudden drops in temperature, particularly in specific rooms or areas of the motel, have been frequently noted. Some guests describe a feeling of being watched or an inexplicable sense of dread.
  4. Moving Objects: Instances of objects moving on their own, such as doors opening and closing or items shifting positions, have been reported by both guests and staff.

The combination of the motel’s clown theme and its haunted reputation has cemented its place in local folklore. Stories of ghostly clowns and restless spirits are often shared by locals and visitors, adding to the motel’s mystique.

Cultural Impact and Popularity

The Clown Motel’s unusual theme and haunted reputation have made it a popular destination for travelers seeking an offbeat adventure. It has been featured in various media, including television shows, documentaries, and online videos, further amplifying its fame.

The motel’s appeal lies not just in its potential for paranormal activity but also in its embrace of a quirky and nostalgic theme. For many, staying at the Clown Motel is a way to experience a unique piece of Americana, blending roadside kitsch with ghostly intrigue.


The Clown Motel in Tonopah, Nevada, stands as a testament to the power of local legend and the allure of the unusual. Its combination of clown-themed decor, proximity to a historic cemetery, and reports of paranormal activity create a compelling destination for those fascinated by the eerie and the extraordinary. Whether visitors come for the clowns, the ghosts, or simply to experience something out of the ordinary, the Clown Motel offers a stay that is sure to be memorable and possibly spine-chilling.

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