Safety, Recreation, & Permits
Please recreate responsibly and protect public land resources and your recreation opportunities. There are over 900 miles of designated roads and trails in the National Conservation Area that are available for your use. Careless Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) behavior is the major cause of negative publicity towards OHV use and can cause damage to resources and jeopardize safety. Inconsiderate OHV use can cause thousands of acres to be closed to the enjoyment of all visitors.
Things You Should Know
Wilderness Boundaries and Wilderness Access Roads
High Rock Canyon Seasonal Road Closure
This closure is to prevent disturbance during the raptor breeding and bighorn sheep lambing seasons, and to prevent damage to the road and emigrant trail through the canyon.
TIPS FOR DRIVING IN BLACKROCK COUNTRY
The Black Rock Desert Playa is impassable when wet, but is generally passable during the summer season. However, beware when traveling on the Playa even when the surface appears to be dry, because it may be wet beneath the surface and become impassable to vehicles. Check with local residents and businesses or BLM for up-to-date conditions.
Most roads and trails are not regularly maintained, are unsigned, and are seldom traveled. Avoid traveling solo in areas where help is not available; use the buddy system. There is no cell phone service in the NCA.
Water is scarce in the region, bring plenty with you (minimum 1 gallon per/day per/person).
Hot Springs Are Dangerous
Keep your dog on a leash and your children close around Double Hot Springs. Dogs will jump into the springs and almost always die when they do. Dogs have scalded their tongues by drinking from the streams and have burned their feet when crossing the streams.
Other hot spings in the area are not as hot as Double Hot Springs, but the temperature of most hot springs can vary greatly. Always test the temperature of a hot spring (except Double Hot Springs) before getting in. As indicated above, do not even test the temperature of Double Hot Springs.
Playa Conditions Unpredictable and Treacherous
People -- experienced, knowledgeable people -- are getting stuck out there.
Special Recreation Permits
Black Rock-High Rock Country is a popular venue for a variety of organized recreation activities. The Bureau of Land Management uses Special Recreation Permits (SRP) to authorize and manage various uses and activities on public lands. Permitting allows BLM to monitor potential impacts to natural or cultural resources, and/or conflicts with other recreation or commercial users.
Special Recreation Permits are required when an activity falls into one of the following categories:
Commercial Uses - this is defined as recreational use of public lands and related waters for business or financial gain. When any person, group, or organization makes or attempts to make a profit, receive money, amortize equipment, or obtain goods or services, as compensation from participants in recreational activities occurring on public lands, the use is considered commercial.
Examples in the NCA: The annual Burning Man festival, several hunting outfitters and guides, jeep tours (4-wheel drive), equestrian tours and wagon train rides, cattle drives, and filming or photography for profit associated with a recreational activity.
Competitive Uses - this means any organized, sanctioned, or structured use, event, or activity on public land in which two or more contestants compete and either (1) participants register, enter, or complete an application for the event, or (2) a predetermined course or area is designated.
Examples in the NCA: Unique activities such as rocket launching and land sailing. The world land speed record and the amateur altitude record were authorized under a competitive SRP.
Organized Group Activities and Event Uses - this type of permit is for non-commercial and non-competitive group activities and recreation events. Special Recreation Permits are required for any organized group that have the potential to create impacts on public land.
Examples: A large scout camp out, a fraternity activity, a large family reunion, or a dual sport event. Examples: OHV races, horse endurance rides, mountain bike races, rodeos.
Vending - this type of permit can be temporary, short-term, non-exclusive, or a revocable authorization to sell goods or services on public lands in conjunction with a recreation activity.
A few rules about camping in the NCA:
There are excellent opportunities for primitive camping throughout Black Rock-High Rock Country. The major draw to this area is the wide open spaces and lack of visitation that provides breathtaking views and unlimited solitude. While most camping occurs in a dispersed fashion, there are a few areas with primitive camping facilities.
Most campers find random locations without any camping facilities, but provide ample opportunities for solitude. There are many dispersed campsites located along the western edge of the Black Rock Desert playa in the “bays” and other nooks located ‘just off’ the edge of the playa. Many campers enjoy camping in the middle of the playa, which offers a unique experience that could make anyone feel small. Other dispersed campsites are established near the ends of the wilderness cherrystem routes, in the vicinity of the hot springs (Trego, Black Rock and Double Hot), and along roads throughout the NCA. Several primitive campsites have also been established at Cassidy Mine and Flowing Wells, which are located on the western fringe of the playa, between the playa and Soldier Meadows Road. Remember. The best campsites are found, not made - use existing campsites where possible to prevent unnecessary impacts to the desert resources.
Soldier Meadows Ranch also allows camping on their property with permission and a small fee. They also provide lodging and meals.
Soldier Meadows is one of the most highly visited areas in the NCA. If you are looking for solitude, this may not be your place.
High Rock Canyon
The Lahontan Cutthroat Trout Wilderness Study Area (LCT WSA)
Remember to bring your own water, firewood, and shelter. These items are not easily found or reliable throughout the year.
While there are no constructed hiking trails in the NCA or the ten wilderness areas, there are ample opportunities for cross country wilderness hiking and hiking along primitive two-track roads in the backcountry. Many canyons throughout the NCA and wilderness provide perennial water sources and there are springs dotting the mountains, which allow for day hiking and long distance overnight hiking (purify water before drinking). If you are used to hiking on constructed trails, be sure to budget extra time to hike similar distances cross country. Also be sure to pack extra water, since springs and water sources are not always reliable.
The Desert Trail
High Rock Canyon Complex
North Black Rock Range
The Calico Mountains
Black Rock Country has a myriad of opportunities for off-highway vehicle (OHV) and all terrain vehicle (ATV) touring and exploration. Over 800 miles of primitive roads provide access to even the most remote corners of the NCA.
Follow the Applegate National Historic Trail to experience the sights and terrains that challenged thousands of emigrants in the mid-1800’s. The Trails West Organization publishes a very informative self-guided tour book for the trail. Test your skills and equipment with a ride through High Rock Canyon, which requires 4-WD and skilled driving. Zoom across the flat and barren Black Rock Desert Playa (dry lakebed), following the tracks of the land speed record holder. Whatever your interest, there is an opportunity for you.
The dunes surrounding the playa are off limits to motorized travel.
Hunting is allowed in the NCA and in the wilderness areas. Game animals include mule deer, pronghorn antelope, California bighorn sheep, chukar, and sage-grouse.
Visit the Nevada Division of Wildlife (NDOW) website, where you can find hunt zone maps, information on licenses, and how to apply for a hunting tag.
The NDOW website also includes a link to hunting ‘Guides and Subguides’, providing contact information for outfitters and some guides who operate in the Black Rock-High Rock Country under a BLM permit.
FishingThere are no known fishing areas within the NCA.
Collecting minerals or common invertebrate fossils can be enjoyed almost everywhere in Black Rock-High Rock Country. Rock and mineral enthusiasts search the hills and canyons for petrified wood, geodes, agates, fossils and many other types of colorful and interesting specimens.
To protect mineral deposits and ensure long-term opportunities for collection, the following regulations apply:
Land sailing is a favored activity on the playa. The Sunny Acres Sailing, Sipping and Soaring Society (SASSASS) conducts two land sailing events each year on the Black Rock Desert playa.
No permit is required for individual recreational land sailing. More information about land sailing and land sailing organizations is available at Landsailing in America
The Black Rock Desert is a mecca for rocket launching enthusiasts. Several amateur rocket clubs, including Aeropac, use the Black Rock Desert Playa as a launching site because of its remoteness, good sight distance and good weather.
At least three different rocketry clubs conduct launches and campouts on the Black Rock Desert Playa each year.
The current altitude record for amateur rocketry was set by the Civilian Space Exploration Team (CSXT) on May 17, 2004, when its “Go Fast” rocket reached an altitude of 72 miles (380,160 feet). This was the first amateur rocket to cross the officially recognized threshold of space, which is 100 kilometers or 62 miles above sea level.
Launch Schedule: Please see aeropac.org and click on their "Launch Calendar" link.