Route 3: the low pass, Summer Lake Hot Spring Route
Seattle, Vancouver, Bend, La Pine, Lakeview, Alturas, Cedarville, Gerlach via:
I-5, I-205, US-26, US-97, OR-31, US-395, CA-299, CA/NV-447
Pros: The fastest route, the least amount of mountain passes, no commuter traffic and nice hot springs.
Cons: Very few services between La Pine and Lakeview.
Overview: This route takes you off I-5 at Vancouver, WA and heads into rural country. You pass through some amazing scenic country and towns like Bend which have many of the same services you would find along I-5. The drive across central Oregon is remote and beautiful. Summer Lake Hot Springs in Paisley is a great meeting place for Burners along the way.
Estimated route time & distance:
Seattle to Gerlach, NV
Distance: 660 mi.
Driving time: 16 hours
Seattle to La Pine, OR
Distance: 360 mi.
Driving time: 7.5 hours
I-5, I-205, US-26, US-97
I highly encourage you to tank up in La Pine, no matter what your fuel situation might be. There are no 24 hour gas stations for the rest of the journey. Although you can use a credit/debit card at the Alturas Chevron after hours.
La Pine to Lakeview, OR
Distance: 145 mi.
Driving time: 4.5 hours
US-97, OR-31, US-395
After fueling up in La Pine, you head east through Oregon on the second most desolate stretch of the trip. You pass through some wonderful country during the day and by night, well, have your windshield fluid topped off because you will pass through swarms of bugs that are unbelievable. Also, watch for animals on the roadway such as deers, cows and of course, skunks.
Lakeview, OR to Cedarville, CA
Distance: 65 mi.
Driving time: 2 hours
US-395, CA-299, CA-447
Gas prices are on average 17 cents higher per gallon in California than Oregon. We highly recommend that you completely top off before leaving Lakeview. There is one gas station south of town that closes around 10:00 PM and no other that is regularly open until Alturas. This is where you face the Cedarville Pass. It is 6305 ft and there is no other alternative. Check your water and if driving with a trailer, be courteous to other drivers going up the pass who may be able to pass you. If you ride your brakes going down the pass, they can easily overheat and catch fire. Instead, Downshift.
Cedarville, CA to Gerlach, NV
Distance: 83 mi.
Driving time: 2 hours
This is the most desolate stretch of the journey. The only business along the way between Cedarville and Gerlach is the small store and Post Office in Eagleville, Planet X Pottery a few miles outside of Gerlach and that's it. There is almost no houses and I do not know if the ones along the route are occupied or not. One mile before you reach Gerlach, there is a short road that allows you to cross directly to NV-34 and skip Gerlach entirely.
Gerlach, to Burning Man
Distance: 11 mi.
Driving time: 20 minutes
We can't emphasize this enough, when in Gerlach and the surrounding suburbs, drive below the speed limit. You will see more police officers in Gerlach than you saw during your entire journey. They have no problem writing tickets for any offense. However, it has been our experience that the officers will treat you with the same amount of respect that you show them. So our advice is to be courteous to the locals an participants alike. I hate to be preachy, but anything you do reflects on the festival as a whole.
I like to encourage people to fuel up completely before entering the event. In 2012, we can expect 60,000 people braving Exodus and most of those will leave on Monday. Even if you left at 6:00am, you can expect a 4-8+ hour wait in line before you hit NV-34. It is very wise to consider fueling up your vehicle before you get to Burning Man. I personally recommend a stop at the Empire Store. However, if you hit Cedarville, perhaps consider purchasing an extra five gallons of fuel, just in case. Optimally, you would have enough fuel in your vehicle to make it to Burning Man, wait to get in, wait to leave and make it back to Cedarville and skip any gas lines at Bruno's or Empire Store.