The spirit of Burning Man can be found year-round in northern Nevada. Trace the route Burners take every August on their annual pilgrimage to Burning Man from Reno, out to the Black Rock Desert and beyond.
Whether or not you plan on making the journey out to BRC (Black Rock City) during its annual one-week existence, trace the footsteps of those who do, and you'll discover how Nevada's do-it-yourself-spirit, splendorous wide-open natural spaces, spunky "why not" attitude and unmatched freedom energizes people to come out here and create something magical.
In Reno, Burners are keeping the Burning Man spirit alive all over the city. The event's magic has influenced artistic development throughout the entire region. Take a day to explore burner boutiques, art from the playa, and the creative corners of the Biggest Little City where Reno-based Burners thrive.
Driving to Burning Man is an experience in and of itself. As loyal artists, spiritual gurus, seekers, and even techies from Silicon Valley begin their journey “Home,” first-time attendees will have quite the adventure to the city.
Not only will you see incredible landscapes, wildlife, sunsets (and maybe sunrises) on the way, travelers should also be prepared to see and share the road with wildlife as well. If this territory starts to feel like something out of a car commercial, you’re not far off; many car companies test their new models along NV-447.
Even if you're not heading to the Burn, you should still explore this particular road trip. There's just too much cool stuff out here waiting to be explored.
The Black Rock Desert quickly transforms into Black Rock City each year, where more than 70,000 people will travel along the two-lane, rural highway, Interstate-80 East.
Burners and roadtrippers alike who start their journey to Black Rock City, Nevada from Reno are in for a real treat. Prepare for a small taste of the annual social art and community metropolis that is Burning Man alive in well right here in the Biggest Little City.
Reno is home to many local businesses that have a little extra Burner flair. Pop into these shops while exploring the MidTown District, Reno’s hippest and most up-and-coming neighborhood. The Melting Pot World Emporium, Junkee Clothing Exchange, Culture, and Dick Diamond's Golden Jackal are great places to let your imagination run wild while finding vintage duds, funky costumes, and unique "Playa-ready" apparel. Natural Selection and Sundance Bookstore are some of the best places in town to find funky gifts for you and your loved ones, and Black Hole Body Piercing has a bit of the counterculture vibe — and happens to be one of the best places to spark the Burning Man spirit, even in the winter.
The Generator, a place to “Work Less. Build More. Play More,” is an inclusive creative space for anyone who wants to make art and be a part of a creative community. This collaborative art space operates under the same creative community ethic outlined in Burning Man’s Ten Principles. The Generator is best known for the large projects they create for display (and participation) at Burning Man. The best part: you don’t have to be an artist to browse through the working gallery of things being built here. The Generator is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Tuesday Through Sunday.
The Morris Burner Hostel is part hostel, part art gallery. It is open to everyone, but you must become a member to rest your head here. An annual membership is $50 and a monthly membership is $20. If you’ve made other hotel arrangements, this place is still worth checking out. They give free guided tours and no reservation is required. Just stop by and they’ll be happy to show you around and answer any questions you may have. In the past, the Morris Burner Hostel has been a hub for pre-Burn activity, including ridesharing, and more. Give the place a call to see what the happs is when you’re in town.
While in the area, check out the new craft breweries along Fourth Street, and don’t forget to stop by the Reno Bike Project, a community bike shop that fixes up old bikes for Burning Man.
Some of the art from Burning Man finds a permanent home in Reno. You’ll find sculptures from the playa, but also fantastical murals and other creative pieces while strolling along the Reno Riverwalk, through the Reno Playa Art Park, or at the plaza outside of the Nevada Museum of Art.
Described as a Burner’s bar, Jub Jub’s Thirst Parlor is a perfect place to wet your whistle while getting in the Burning Man spirit. The owners are Burners themselves and even have their own Jub Jub's theme camp at Burning Man. We guarantee you’ll meet some characters in this beloved dive bar that will leave you with some pretty great stories to tell.
The drive to Pyramid Lake is one of the most underrated scenic routes in the state. This vast sapphire jewel nestled in the desert mountains is completely different from the Tahoe experience and a must-see while experiencing the Burner Byway.
To participate in all the fun, make sure you stop by Crosby Lodge to purchase a fishing permit, hire a tour, get supplies and grab a bite to eat. Visitors can only access Pyramid Lake on the West Shore, the lake itself is not accessible to visitors.
Many people drive out to Pyramid Lake to peacefully soak in the amazing views, desert colors and for some, even the remarkable silence. Nevada State Route 445 (NV-445) leads directly to a handful of magnificent viewpoints and overlooks. Get out of the car and don’t forget the camera—from this spot the Earth’s most spectacular tufa deposits are visible. This is also a great spot to observe the lake’s namesake.
Explorer John C. Fremont (1845) named the lake after the pyramidal-shaped island that lies along the eastern shore. The Paiute name for the island is Wono, meaning cone-shaped basket. If you spot a bunch of pelicans, don’t be surprised; Anaho Island National Wildlife Refuge, located in pyramid lake, is one of the two largest American white pelican colonies in the United States.
The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum and Visitor Center features exhibits on the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe's history and culture, so it's a great place to continue your adventure. Here, visitors will learn how and why the Paiute people hold this entire area so close to their hearts and how very sacred it is to their culture. Visitors can purchase camping, boating, and fishing permits at the center, too. Hours of operation are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and during the summer, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays.
The Pyramid Lake Fisheries near Sutcliffe on Nevada State Route 445 is a great place to learn about fish husbandry. Spawning season can run from March through May.
If you’re an avid angler, give Pyramid Lake fishing a try. Pyramid Lake has five different species of fish:
If you’re ready to beat the world record catch of the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, which was 41 pounds, be sure to bring your fishing gear, although you’re more likely to reel in a plenty-large 20 pounder any given day of the week during high season.
For great fishing tips, fisheries program information, or to schedule a tour, call the administration office at (775) 476-0500. For seasons and species info, visit https://pyramidlake.us/fishing.
There’s plenty of places to camp along the west shore of Pyramid Lake (be sure to get a permit first at the museum), or if you don’t feel like roughing it, you can stay in cabins or travel trailers at Crosby Lodge.
The town’s slogan is “CENTER OF THE KNOWN UNIVERSE,” and we don’t think that it could be any more fitting. Gerlach is the last place to get gas before heading into the Black Rock Desert, but there are a few other reasons to hang around Main Street.
Depending on what time of year you're in town—whether you're making the trek for the Burn or you’re taking this road trip as a fun, off-the-cuff adventure, you can never be too prepared for the weather. Upon leaving Gerlach (and even in some central parts of Gerlach), the weather is often unpredictable. Black Rock City weather can go from dust storms to rain and sunshine to freezing temperatures in an instant. Make sure you pack appropriately!
One more thing, it’s very important to check driving conditions before driving on the playa. Call Friends of Black Rock, Bruno’s or the Miner’s Club before you attempt it. Cars have been known to be stuck out there for months on end. Work smart, not hard!
Stop at Bruno's Country Club for the famous ravioli. The restaurant also has homemade pies and an ice cream machine, which makes for a perfect treat on hot days. Bruno's has a bar and mini-casino. This is also where you'll find the locals. The staff is very friendly and a great resource on things to see and do in the area.
The Friends of Black Rock/High Rock office is the place to learn about the area and pick up last-minute supplies. The staff can provide tips to exploring the Black Rock High Rock Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area, plus it's a great place to stop and check out a detailed map of Guru Road.
No trip to Gerlach is complete without a visit to Guru Road. It should be said that what many locals call “Dooby Lane” is the name for what is officially called Guru Road. Built by DeWayne “Doobie” Williams in the late '70s through the early '90s, this mile-long dirt road corridor can be found just two miles north of Gerlach and is easily accessible by any vehicle. Using local stone and other found objects, Doobie crafted tributes to family, friends and local residents. Words of wisdom line the road and there are several large pieces including a weather station, a tribute to Elvis, Aphrodite and the Desert Broadcast System. Guru Road is accessible year-round and is just north of town on Highway 34 (on the left).
Planet X started with just the remnants of an old homestead on the Emigrant Trail. Today, it is a working pottery studio and has four show galleries, along with an outdoor bar and picnic area. It’s 28 miles from Gerlach, but trust us—it’s worth the drive.
This husband and wife team have offered exquisite ceramics and paintings in sprawling ranch home galleries since 1974, of which many are inspired by their splendiferous surroundings.
TravelNevada PRO TIP: Swing by on Memorial Day or Thanksgiving weekend for the twice-annual, three-day Open House Show & Sale, it’s an all around pottery party.
Burning Man has made the Playa at the Black Rock Desert an international icon, but much more happens in this area beyond Burning Man. Wagon ruts, historic inscriptions, and a wilderness landscape largely unchanged since the days of the pioneers are found in the Black Rock-High Rock Region of northwestern Nevada.
If you’re looking for more information on travel and how to get to BRC and back, make sure to check out Burning Man’s official website.
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