The Black Rock Desert in Northern Nevada is traditionally known as the location of the annual Burning Man celebration which takes place at the end of August. While nearly 75,000 people travel to the event each year, the rest of the time the desert and its stark but beautiful surroundings are essentially empty of any crowds.
RVers will find the desert and the mountains around the flat playas both intriguingly private and infuriatingly difficult.
Most roads in the area are not paved, there are very few fuel and food stops, and the terrain can be rugged and impassable in parts.
Bring your OHV (off-highway vehicle) for ultimate exploration into the area’s mountains and canyons and give yourself plenty of time to navigate the backroads.
However, once you get out there, you will most likely be the only person around. Here are a few places to you can visit that run the gamut from lonely to social without meeting up with 75,000 of your closest friends.
1. The Black Rock Desert Playa
Camping is allowed anywhere on the playa during the year, but you will need to bring everything with you and minimize any impact to the desert floor. Be careful after rain or snow, the Playa becomes a sticky mud pit that can trap a vehicle.
The Playa is also a great place for some speed tests in your own vehicle. The land speed record of 763 miles per hour was set here in 1997.
Really get away from it all on the Black Rock Desert Playa.
The desert is a wild mix of sand and dust, mountains, trees, and hot springs.
The Playa is also home to the annual Burning Man event.
2. Planet X Pottery
If you want a little more civilization in this dusty land, visit Planet X Pottery just outside the town of Gerlach. This private residence, event space, and artist community is located in an oasis near the Smoke Creek Desert.
Planet X is totally off the grid and serves as a social center for the vast desert area. Pottery and original paintings can be purchased here all year and in the summer, the gardens are full of flowers, birds, and art made from leftover items like the satellite-dish-turned-shade-structure shown below.
3. Iveson Ranch
This dude ranch located on Highway 34 features ranch accommodations and RV and tent camping for intrepid travelers who make their way to this remote area. You can bring your own food and eat a communal meal in the ranch’s kitchen, and enjoy horseback riding, hunting or hiking.
Iveson Ranch is a 320-acre dude ranch with camping and lodging.
4. Vya and Old Yella Dog Ranch
Vya is a ghost town that closed down in the 1920’s. There’s not much to do out here, but the Old Yella Dog Ranch is a great place to enjoy the wide open Nevada skies. The ranch has a two bedroom log cabin for rent and RV parking is only $20 per rig and includes hookups.
The Old Yella Dog Ranch also has lodging and RV camping.
5. Hot Springs
For such a dry area, the Black Rock Desert has a surprising amount of hot springs. Many of the springs are not safe for bathing, so follow any posted signs.
Soldier Meadows hot springs is a private hot spring, but they allow camping for $12 per night.
A few springs are cool enough to enjoy including Trego Hot Springs, located on the east side of the Playa, and Soldier Meadows Hot Springs on Soldier Meadows Ranch and Lodge is deep enough for swimming.