There is nothing like a wide-open highway that will make you fall in love with traveling all over again, and there is no better place for a wide-open highway than Nevada. If you’ve never been to rural Nevada, or if the only time you’ve adventured to the Black Rock Desert was for Burning Man, it’s time to crank up the tunes, open Google Maps, pack (local) snacks/drinks in a cooler and hit the highway… You’ll wonder why you haven’t done it sooner.
Here is the ultimate guide to a road trip on the Burner Byway!
Stop 1: Reno
As the gateway for the annual Burning Man festival, Reno has embraced burner culture year-round around town – from massive art pieces to fiery community gatherings, to the friendliest hospitality.
You better believe downtown Reno is getting artsier by the minute…
The Playa Art Park, located in the heart of downtown Reno, opened in November of 2017 and features artwork previously displayed on the playa. From there, make your way down to City Plaza for a photo-op with the BELIEVE sign and the infamous Space Whale. The Space Whale is a monumental stained glass and steel sculpture of two humpback whales – mother and calf. There are Burning Man pieces all over Reno, check out this article for Must See Artwork Located Beyond the Playa and follow along Art Spot’s Playa Art Trail.
Have you wondered where the art for Burning Man was created and who creates it? Answer: Sparks, NV and YOU. That’s right, you could be one of the people who has a hand in creating the massive art pieces showcased at Burning Man. The Generator is an inclusive art space, maker space and community space for anyone who wants to make art and be part of a creative community. Attend a workshop and learn fun new skills in welding, painting, leather work, or sign up for an aerial silks class. The Space Whale now located in Reno’s City Plaza? That was made at The Generator in 2016!
Free hugs at check-in? The Morris Burner Hostel might be one of the quirkiest places you’ll stay. Where else would you find themed rooms like the Goddess Room or the Sparkle Pony Room? Definitely a one-of-a-kind experience. Wondering where else you can stay during your trip to Reno? Find a hotel that is as unique as you are in Reno Tahoe.
There are a number of places in Reno to experience Burning Man year-round: check out this video by The Blonde Abroad and Courtney Scott!
Stop 2: Pyramid Lake
No need to go all the way to Egypt to see some incredible pyramid formations – just 45 minutes from Reno. Pyramid Lake is a component of the National Scenic Byways Program and is the only byway in the nation entirely within a tribal reservation. O, and the fishing is awesome. Size matters.
Stop 3: Gerlach, NV
Home to arguably the best welcome sign in the country.
If you’re wondering what “the fastest town on the planet” means: Gerlach holds the land speed record – 714 mph driving on the Black Rock Desert! Stop here for some yummy diner food and last chance wifi. You’ll quickly find out that bars of service in the middle of Nevada are more sparse than people. Also, be sure to fill up your gas tank – it’s your last chance!
Stop 4: Planet X
Just a few miles out of Gerlach is a pottery store this is truly an out-of-this-world experience. Every piece is hand-painted and inspired by Nevada and the Black Rock Desert.
Stop 5: Soldier Meadows Ranch and Hot Spring
About 60 miles north of Gerlach, 50 miles driving on a gravel road, and countless miles north of cell service, you’ll find the Soldier Meadows Ranch and Guest House.
Heading down the driveway, you’ll be greeted by hundreds of cows. MOOOOOVE.
Stepping outside the car, you’ll be overwhelmed with relaxation before your feet hit the ground as you take a deep breath of fresh country air.
Say “hi” to Cashmere, the most adorable ranch dog, as you walk up the steps! (Dog person.)
The Ranch has a number of sleeping options, including queen rooms, bunkhouses, cabins, or tent and RV options – all very affordable. They also prepare fresh meals daily served family style in their ranch cookhouse. Visit their website for more information.
Stop 6: Hot Springs
Soldier Meadows has a private hot spring on their property…. Waste no time getting to it.
Fun fact: Nevada has more hot springs than any other state! And, more mountain ranges. An outdoorsmen’s and outdoorswomen’s dreamland. Remember when we mentioned grabbing local snacks/drinks from Reno? Well, this is the perfect spot to crack open a cold one. Learn more about other hot springs in Northern Nevada.
Back to the Ranch House…
Staying hours away from cell service, cable, and wifi (their connection is extremely weak) can be a little intimidating but don’t worry, the adjustment happens real quick. Just…
Watch the sunset…
And dive into a board game…
The ranch may not have internet, but their board game, book, and VHS collection is impressively extensive- and a major throwback. This is what The Game of Life is about… finding the balance between modern technology and everything but. Let your mind slow down and get tucked into bed early. Earth’s natural alarm clock, the birds, will wake you up with the sun.
Stop 7: Open (dirt) Road
The drive between Solider Meadows and Gerlach is around two hours, but the scenery is timeless.
Stop 8: Black Rock Desert
Add the Black Rock Desert to your bucket list right now.
Okay, glad that is settled. The Playa is truly a remarkable place. The wide open space beckons adventure and serenity. Although it is known to many as “home” you can see no one lives there year-round. The Black Rock is home to Burning Man’s Black Rock City and is a place where you can be who you want to without judgment. Even after 70,000 people leave the pop-up city every September, the good vibes, energy, and creativity stay within the cracks.
It doesn’t get any more relaxing than a Playa Picnic.
And, it’s a perfect place to put the pedal to the metal. Of course, you have to give the place that holds the land speed record a run for its money.
Stop 9: Guru Road
Across the highway from the Black Rock Desert just outside of Gerlach is a drive-through art exhibit. What else would you expect in this art mecca? Built by DeWayne “Doobie” Williams in the late 70s to early 90s there are many pieces worth getting out of the car to interact with.
Even the locals enjoy the stones engraved with words of wisdom.
This television piece was a personal favorite. Get outside. Explore more. Discover Nevada.
Stop 10: Open Road to Reno…
One of the best parts of Nevada road trips is the long, open roads. Take a moment to get out of the car, breathe the fresh country air and take it all in.