With more than 75,000 people traveling through these normally quiet rural towns, we have a significant impact on the communities surrounding the Black Rock Desert. Drive slowly. Be courteous and patient, dress appropriately, and be respectful. We are guests here. Be polite and friendly to all local residents. Wear clothes. Follow posted speed limits and remember to Leave No Trace.
Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe
Traveling from the West, South, or East to Black Rock City on Hwy 447, you will drive through the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe reservation. Please be respectful and supportive of the Pyramid Lake community. Speed limits are strictly enforced. Be courteous to Tribe members. Be respectful of the lake and land — they are considered sacred, and the lake is home to two types of endangered fish. Artifact hunting and graffiti are prohibited.
The I-80 Smokeshop in Wadsworth and the Nixon Store in Nixon are open for extended hours during peak travel times, and will be fully stocked with gas and other supplies for travelers to and from BRC. There are also RV parks, a restaurant, auto/tow service, and a car wash in Wadsworth and Nixon.
Tribal members also offer services such as car washes, tacos, food drives, and trash collection on Tribal land along the road. Note, all vendors are required to register with the Tribal government. To learn more about the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, including permit info and locations, visit plpt.nsn.us and the Local Towns section of the Burning Man website.
Pyramid Lake camping & day-use
Pyramid Lake is a beautiful ancient lake at the heart of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Reservation, with day-use and camping opportunities before or after a week on the hot dusty playa. All day-use (including swimming) and camping requires Tribal permits. Day-use permits are $22 and camping permits are $32 per day. To purchase permits online, or for a list of permit locations and additional information about Pyramid Lake, please visit this page.
Proceeds from permits help support the Tribal Government, and water quality and environmental programs that protect the unique ecosystem of Pyramid Lake year round. The Tribe advises all travelers that the north, east and south sides of the lake, Anaho Island National Wildlife Refuge, including the Pyramid and Needles areas, are off-limits and closed to everyone but Tribe members. The beaches on Highway 446 from Popcorn Rock to Warrior Point are open to the public.
In 1851, William H. Nobles found a cutoff from the Applegate Trail west through present-day Gerlach that shortened the journey to Northern California via today’s Susanville. This short cut, known as the Nobles Cutoff, was established as an emigrant trail in 1852. Initially, the trail left the Applegate Trail at Black Rock Hot Spring and traversed the bulk of the Black Rock Desert Playa. In 1856, an alternate route was found that leaves the Applegate at Rabbit Hole Spring and passes by Trego Hot Spring.
If you purchase fireworks on the reservation, you must shoot them on the reservation, and only in specific locations. You must be over 18, and shooting hours are between dusk and midnight. Possession or use of fireworks is not allowed in Black Rock City.
Gerlach & Empire
The citizens of Gerlach and Empire welcome us. Please be considerate of them in return. Drive slowly. Don’t block driveways or streets. There are two gas stations, a market, water store, restaurant, and several street vendors. If you do pull over to patronize these businesses, please do so safely and avoid causing traffic issues. Regular traffic laws apply, and you may be ticketed for obstructing traffic or creating a nuisance. Do not replenish your water supply from a private local spigot. Water is precious in the desert, and this water belongs to local residents. For more info, go to the Local Towns section of the website.
New for 2023: There will be no temporary vendors in Empire this year. The year-round store and the gas station will be open as usual.
The only services available in Empire in 2023 will be the gas Station and the Empire Store. Both these facilities will be open, please do support them, and parking capacity will be limited. If you are worried about gas, fill up earlier on your route (gas is also available in Wadsworth, Nixon and in Gerlach), and if you are worried about light up glowy things, or the other playa bits and pieces you might have got from the temporary vendors, best get them earlier too. As usual, the Empire store will have all your last-minute local market essentials (beer, suncream, food things, etc).
Also please note:
- There is no parking available for RVs, trailers, or other long vehicles.
- If the parking lot is full you will not be able to stop, please continue to Gerlach.
- Don’t park on the side of the 447 or block driveways or other roads.