Notes on driving at Black Rock.

Serious info written with humor.

 If you have not been to a Black Rock launch or are not familiar with driving in the desert it would be best if you follow someone who has been there before or at least go out in pairs of vehicles. Do not follow the other vehicle real close or you both may get stuck.

    Use a GPS to find the launch site if you have got one. Ask your neighbor the Great White Hunter if you can borrow his. There are two main entrances onto the playa. First is few miles out of town but you have to drive about 15 miles on the dirt. The second one is about 11 miles out of town.

    There are wet muddy spots on the "dry lake". They may not look too much different from the rest of the dirt but you can sink and be permanently stuck.


    There are sandy spots, ditto above.

    Take water.

    There is debris on the playa, old tires, PVC pipe, big rocks, etc used to mark the trails and turning points to long forgotten events. We have seen in at least two locations railroad track, (the steel rail!) is driven into the ground to mark the old immigrant trail.

    Try to stay on the established trails on the playa. You are less likely to hit something or get stuck and it makes the BLM happier.

    If you are heading into town at night do not try to go straight for the lights. There is a huge wet area before you get there. Stay north of the first entrance and it is usually OK.  On same note, there is another town generally east of the launch site, Sulfur, it has lights similar to Gerlach. You do not want to go that way. Ever.

    The BurningMan clean up crew is usually on the playa, try to avoid the area as there is a sharp junk (Re-bar etc) left by the event and the people are playa dust colored and hard to see.

    You can not walk out, it is too far to go to a real road. If you get stuck stay with your vehicle, it is easier to spot than a person.

    When you go to chase your rocket tell someone responsible the direction you are going. If you do not come back in a reasonable time we will send someone to look for you. Although it may be members of AHPRA that come looking for you, do not tell the RSO/LCO where you are going as they are too busy and will forget until the buzzards can be seen.

    Take water.

    Your cell phone will not work. Some work in Gerlach, some at the launch site, but other places no likely.

    You will never get all the dust out of your car. Ever.

    The Family radios only have a range of two miles. When you have a problem 3 miles out no one will hear you. We have found radios do not transmit well at Black Rock and your range for all radios may not be good.

    If you must cross the railroad tracks use much caution. The train is going 75 mph, it takes 2 miles to stop, there is a train about every 15 minutes. Lets do the math, you are stuck on the tracks and want to run and try and flag the train to stop. Can you run 2+ miles in sand in under 15 minutes? And which way do you run? The train ALWAYS wins.

    Take water.

    You will see some vehicles driving at tremendous speeds across the playa.  Think about the condition of your tires, how much you are overloaded, the 1200 miles you have to drive home and how you will explain the blown engine to the wife. Then drive a reasonable speed and wave at those who pass.

    Being dusted by the launch sponsors truck is considered to be a sign you are accepted into the group.

Take water.

    There are hot springs in the Black Rock area with beautiful clear pools. The water is very hot and you can die in some of them. Unless you have someone with local knowledge look but stay out.


Have fun. It is not really that bad.


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