RyanHenge – Alamo, Nevada - Atlas Obscura

About an hour outside of Las Vegas, just next to a landfill, stands RyanHenge. This Stonehenge-inspired monument is a labor of love, created in 2017 by Ryan Williams, who is the CEO of Western Elite, the company that runs the landfill.

Williams grew up in Las Vegas and spent time out at the landfill, where he could see the stars away from the bright city lights. During one of these viewings, Williams realized that he could see the stars move throughout the night sky. This revelation awoke a sense of wonder, and he soon started hammering stakes into the ground to mark the positions of various stars and constellations. From there, Williams was inspired to build a solar calendar that mirrored the famous standing stones in England.

Because his birthday falls on the winter solstice, Williams decided that his RyanHenge would map the 21st day of each month. He started mapping out sunrises and sunsets for the 21st of each month, a task that took him over 10 years to complete since he was often competing with cloudy days. Williams determined that for RyanHenge to function the way he wanted it to, he needed 57 columns for various widths.

A world map is painted on the ground encircled by the columns. At the center of that map is a tall pole with a hole cut into it—visitors who stop by at high noon can see a tiny ray of sunlight peeking through the pole. There are yin yang symbols marking the equinoxes and on Williams’s birthday, the sunsets at the end of Starlight Avenue.

Visitors to RyanHenge often notice strange phrases on the map in English, Greek, and Latin. While Williams knows what these phrases mean, he hasn’t divulged the information. Rather he wants visitors to think for themselves and find their own meaning and significance in the phrases.

There is also a very large sundial, a chessboard, and a labyrinth on this site. Some vintage train cars are also on display.

Know Before You Go

Western Elite Landfill. 65 miles north of Las Vegas. I-15 exit 64. Drive north on US-93/Great Basin Hwy for 43 miles. Entrance is on the west side, just past the "Truck Crossing" sign. RyanHenge is a couple hundred yards inside the entrance. 

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September 2, 2021

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