A Burner Byway road trip is as much about absorbing the Burning Man philosophy as it is soaking up the legendary beauty of Nevada’s great outdoors.
In the western USA state of Nevada, plug in to the Burning Man lifestyle while driving on the two-lane Burner Byway from Reno to the Black Rock Desert. Driving along vast expanses of scenic and sparse desert landscapes, you’ll feel only good vibes on this western Nevada highway. Stop at roadside attractions, see amazing artwork and visit Old West towns. Find yourself in awe of the splendor of nature at work in places such as the massive Pyramid Lake, hot springs in Gerlach and the dry lake bed of the Playa.
Adopting the Burning Man Philosophy
First, brush up on the Burning Man Project’s 10 principles, which include participation, self-reliance and civic responsibility. Find out how the Burning Man desert festival became the ultimate place for people to showcase radical self-expression through art and performances. At any time of the year, you can re-create the Burner experience on your own. Just remember: Leave no trace that you were ever there, taking with you only memories and incredible photos.
Stopping to take a photo along the Burner Byway
Start Your Adventure in Reno
Art is an important part of the Burning Man way of life, and Reno is an excellent place to see large-scale works. Rent a bike and keep your eyes open for colorful murals decorating the downtown and MidTown districts. Stop in galleries, hip shops, bars and restaurants. You won’t want to miss more art along the Reno Riverwalk, where you can enjoy live music and cocktails at The Eddy shipping container community space. Stay overnight in an eclectic room at the Morris Burner Hostel, where you’ll get 50 percent off the price if you can recite Burning Man’s 10 Principles. If communal lodging is not to your liking, Reno offers plenty of traditional accommodations to suit every taste and budget.
"Portal of Evolution" sculpture by Bryan Tedrick on the Reno Riverwalk
Pit Stops at Pyramid Lake and Gerlach
Drive north on the two-lane Burner Byway, officially known as Route 447, and make your first stop at the 50.5-hectare Pyramid Lake, a National Wildlife Refuge that is home to a colony of white pelicans that nest here from late February to September. Learn why the area is a sacred place for Native Americans by viewing exhibits at the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Museum and Visitors Center. If you want to go fishing, you can also buy a permit here.
Continue to Gerlach, which is your last chance to get supplies you forgot to buy in Reno; you’ll find a restaurant, motel and gas station at Bruno’s Country Club. Just out of town, stop at Planet X Pottery to view its handcrafted pieces and at Guru Road to look at more imaginative outdoor art installations.
Pelicans soaring over Pyramid Lake
Fly Ranch and the Playa at Black Rock Desert
About 30 minutes from the Black Rock Desert, a must-visit place is Fly Ranch, owned by the Burning Man Project. Sign up for a three-hour guided tour that includes hiking to the colorful Fly Geyser, which spurts plumes of hot water into the air. In the evening, relax at your campsite while looking up at dark skies that are spectacular for stargazing. In the morning, discover the wonders of the Playa by driving or walking on the dry lake bed; see white sand, sand storms and tall peaks in the distance. (Important tip: Don’t drive on the lake bed after it has rained or snowed because you’ll get stuck in the mud.) Ride dirt bikes, soak your soul in hot springs and cap off another day with an amazing sunset.
The vibrant hues of Fly Geyser, a marvel in the Black Rock Desert
Fly into Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) in Reno, then rent a car for your road trip along the Burner Byway.