Travel Tips & Reminders

Travel Tips & Reminders

Many of the motorists traveling to the Black Rock Desert will travel on Interstate 80 until they reach the Wadsworth exit. The roadway from Wadsworth to the Black Rock Desert (Hwy 447) is very different from I-80. I-80 is designed to accommodate several thousand vehicles per hour. Hwy 447 is a two-lane road without wide paved shoulders, signs indicating rest areas, or pull-outs like a major highway. Hwy 447 has many blind curves, grades, open range areas, and soft sand roadway shoulders.

    • Use the Wadsworth or Nixon gas stations’ rest areas (and fill up your gas tank) before traveling north to the event. This will help reduce the need to stop alongside the road and the potential of getting stuck in the soft sand shoulder (this occurs often).
    • This is open range area. “Open range” means there are no fences bordering the roadway, so cattle explore the range freely. After dark the cattle are often drawn to the road to soak up the warmth retained in the asphalt. Cows are worth over $500 each to a farmer, rancher, or the Native American tribe in the area. Hitting a cow is no fun, as anyone who’s done so can tell you. Be safe, and smart. Travel the speed limit at all times, but do so particularly in areas indicating an open range. Outside of towns, be prepared to share the road with livestock and wildlife.
    • There is an overabundance of jackrabbits in the area, and they are suicidal. It is not worth jeopardizing your safety to swerve in an attempt to avoid them.
    • If you do need to pull over, look for a wide open area that doesn’t have steep shoulders bordering the highway. The area needs to be large enough to get your vehicle completely off the highway, so as not to create a traffic hazard.


  • Avoid pulling over near curves and grades. These areas can be extremely dangerous for you and other motorists when attempting to re-enter the roadway. Approaching motorists are often unable to see you and are usually traveling at or near 70 mph as they approach your vehicle.
  • Make sure to pay attention to the roadway and obey all traffic laws. Buckle up. Drive safely.
  • The state highway leading to Gerlach (the closest settlement to Black Rock City) and all other roads in the area are patrolled by the Nevada Highway Patrol. Observe posted speed limits. Local kids and pets play in the road. BE CAREFUL!
  • If stopped for speeding on tribal lands (Nixon and Wadsworth) be prepared to post a fine immediately.
  • Most vehicle accidents in which participants are injured occur on Hwys 447 & 34 on the final approach to Black Rock City. It is sadly ironic that people have often made it across the country only to have a serious injury in the last few miles. Please be cautious. Tired? Stop to rest!
  • Stop and look carefully at all train crossings. Estimating the speed of trains is misleading in the broad desert expanse. Always wait for oncoming train to pass before crossing railroad tracks.
  • Be advised that law enforcement has been known to search vehicles. Do not park alongside Hwy 34. The county sheriff will ticket any vehicles that are parked by the roadside. The road to our encampment is your only access to Black Rock City. There are no other routes.
  • The Bureau of Land Management declares an offroad closure throughout a two-mile area around our city. It will be patrolled by law enforcement agencies. Anyone attempting to enter the playa offroad will be subject to substantial fines. Furthermore, the margins of the lakebed are saturated with water. You will get stuck. Mired vehicles may remain stranded for days or weeks.

Load Your Vehicle Safely!

Loading your vehicle properly, whether it is a car, truck, trailer, motor home, or anything towed, will make your trip safer and less stressful. By applying some simple precautions, your load can be made safe. Here's a great website covering trailer safety.

  • Never exceed the load capacity or the towing capacity of the vehicle or trailer. Check the recommended (not the maximum) weights for your vehicles and do not exceed them.
  • When towing a trailer, don’t exceed the weight recommendations for the trailer and hitch.
  • Load your vehicle safely. Heavy items should be located low, centered, and over or between the axles. For trailers, load the heaviest items toward the front. Secure your load with straps or rope.
  • Cover your load with a tarp whenever possible.
  • Make sure that the brakes and lights work on your vehicle and any trailer you’re towing. Always use safety chains, installed between your trailer and the tow vehicle.
  • Do not overload the roof or roof rack on your vehicle. Large or bulky objects, even if they are lightweight, can make driving dangerous in cross winds. They may loosen and fall off. An extraordinary number of full trash bags are found along the roadside after Burning Man. The only reasonable explanation is poorly secured loads.
  • Emergency Road or Lockout Services: check for availability through Playa Info during their daylight hours of operation, or Ranger HQ/ Outposts after hours. You may need to take the shuttle into town if the resources are not available on playa. Thanks to the Nevada Highway Patrol, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribal Reservation for their contribution to these advisories!

Vehicle Maintenance

Many mechanical problems that leave participants stranded can be avoided with a little extra preparation before leaving. There are several things to keep in mind when preparing your vehicle. You are traveling to the Nevada desert in August. Temperatures can reach well above 100°F during the day. Your vehicle is going to be loaded with extra weight from the gear that you will be taking to the event. Check your vehicle’s tires and air pressure after loading your vehicle.

Before leaving for the Black Rock Desert, you should follow these tips to ensure your vehicle is ready for the trip. Have your local mechanic inspect your radiator, tires (including your spare), belts, brakes, hoses, lights and fluids.