The tiny town of Gerlach may be small in size, but it’s rich in history and natural wonder. Although the Western Pacific Railway established the friendly town in the early 1900s, the region has been inhabited for centuries. Ancient man found the area’s spring water reserves, game and natural shelter inviting, while later travelers used the Black Rock Mountain as a compass on their way to California and Oregon’s gold country. Visitors can still find evidence of the pioneers who passed through Gerlach in the form of name carvings on rocks in the area. The town’s historic water tower, circa 1909, is another fascinating link to the past and is even listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, Gerlach guards the entrance to the intriguing Black Rock Desert and serves as the host community for the annual Burning Man festival. The unparalleled event – a festival of art, community and self-expression – draws thousands upon thousands of visitors, who pass through the hospitable town of Gerlach to descend upon the Black Rock Desert and build a temporary city that is for a short time the county’s most populous. Other visitors are drawn to Gerlach for the recreational possibilities in the surrounding landscape. Desert exploring will reveal meandering streams, wildlife, ancient camping sites, even relics like old Basque ovens and shepherd’s stacks. There’s also the nearby Winnemucca Lake, an incredible dry lake bed that features fascinating rock formations decorated with petroglyphs.