The National Conservation Area
Black Rock City is part of the extraordinary 800,000-acre Black Rock Desert – High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area (NCA). These are public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), with boundless landscapes, steep canyons, rough terrain, sensitive species, and the expansive playa. If you plan to explore the NCA, KNOW BEFORE YOU GO. An abundance of information is available on the Friends of the Black Rock High Rock website and at their Visitor Center in Gerlach.
Many user groups recreate on the playa, including Local ranchers, off-highway vehicles, and rocketeer groups. Locals and first-time visitors alike will be exploring the playa and surrounding environs this summer. Take the opportunity this year to learn about other users and uses of the public lands.
Leaving No Trace
Burning Man is the largest Leave No Trace event in the world! Leaving No Trace is a demonstration of our community’s integrity and commitment to the environment, and a signal that we respect the place and people around us. There is no better place to demonstrate this than in the pristine Black Rock Desert and neighboring communities.
Some guidelines to get you started (some of which are requirements at Black Rock City):
- Never burn anything directly on the playa surface.
- Store fuel safely.
- Pack it in, pack it out. There are no trash cans in the Black Rock Desert. Don’t let anything hit the ground.
- DON’T PEE OR POOP ON THE PLAYA!
- Dispose of all fluids and materials, including gray water, by the appropriate means.
- Drive safely and at a reasonable speed for the conditions. Don’t drive erratically, ride on the roof or hang off the side of your vehicle, or drive while intoxicated.
- DON’T DRIVE ON WET PLAYA!
- Secure your load, inspect your trailer, have a backup plan.
- Bring everything you need for Radical Self Reliance. The desert is real.
- Break out your old Survival Guides or check out the last one we published online. Those lists of “what to bring” apply even more importantly now.
See this previous series post and this one as well for more information about Leaving No Trace on the playa. In addition, the Leave No Trace page of our website and the Leave No Trace section of our most recent Survival Guide are treasure troves of tips for responsibly visiting the playa.
Leave Nevada Beautiful
Due to the impacts of the pandemic, usual participating trash vendors shown in the Leave Nevada Beautiful guide WILL NOT BE COLLECTING TRASH OR RECYCLING THIS YEAR. Plan carefully for your journey to and from the playa. Make arrangements for your trash, recycling and RV pumping. If you can’t find a facility to take your trash, take it home with you. A dumpster in a parking lot behind a business or at a gas station or rest stop is not a solution (no, not even in an emergency). Plan ahead!
Timing Your Visit
The Black Rock Desert is open year-round! Consider visiting at other times of the year to get a full glimpse of the natural wonder we often miss during Burn Week. Whatever time of year you visit, always be mindful of how you engage with this awe-inspiring natural ecosystem we all love.
The Gerlach Outreach Facebook page shows what’s available in town, including lodging, gas, food, and bars. You may see Black Rock Rangers in Gerlach, assisting with questions and directions, communications, and community support. The Burning Man Project Office will be open too — stop by if we can assist you with information, maps, directions, or local info.
Respect our Neighbors
Respect for nearby communities is central to our community’s presence in Northern Nevada. The Black Rock Desert was traditionally Northern Paiute (Numu) and Western Shoshone (Newe) land. You can learn more about the culture and history of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe at the Museum and Visitors Center.
Supporting Surrounding Communities
This summer will be an opportunity to visit and support towns hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic on the way to the playa. Reno and Fernley are great places to buy the supplies you need, treat yourself, and get a sound night’s sleep. Gas stations and convenience stores are on tribal lands in Wadsworth and Nixon. Food vendors and car washes may be operating along Highway 447. If you want to visit beautiful Pyramid Lake, you must get a permit ahead of time.
Please travel safely and respectfully through local communities. Emergency response resources in towns and tribal lands en route to the playa are limited.
The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe urges you to:
- Be mindful of yellow lines, passing, speeding, and yielding to emergency vehicles
- Pay attention to your surroundings. Sometimes you might think you’re out in the middle of nowhere, but you’re actually in someone’s yard or on their property.
- Notice and abide by the changing speed limits going through towns.
- JUST DON’T PASS! The desert will be there when you get there. No wreck or injury—to you or others—is worth saving five minutes on your journey.
Fly Ranch is a 3,800-acre ranch in Northern Nevada near Black Rock City. Want to visit? Sign up for a donation-based nature walk and read the Fly Ranch Survival Guide. Learn more by signing up for the Fly Ranch Newsletter.
Hot springs around the Black Rock Desert are in delicate riparian areas, and many have become contaminated with E. coli bacteria. Some are on private property, and visitors can be cited. Others are dangerously hot, with unpredictable temperature fluctuations. If you visit local hot springs, tread lightly and be aware of the conditions. State law does not permit camping within 300 feet of a water source. Keep these areas clean, safe, and protected.