Frequently Asked Questions
This is a few of the questions we are asked on a frequent basis. If you have a question, I will be happy to see if I can answer it. Drop me a line using the Feedback Form.
Why not just go down I-5 to I-80 and across like Burning Man recommends?
Unless you are far south of Redding, CA, Interstate 80 is really out of the way. It's perfect if you are in the Bay Area or south. Taking the routes we describe can shave 6 or more hours off your journey. The same is true if you are coming from Alberta, Idaho or Montana. The northern part of Nevada has very few decent roads that head to Gerlach, NV. If you have a clear interstate to Winnemucca, then it is worthwhile heading south to Interstate 80.
Why not just drive down I-5 to say, Medford, OR and cut over?
You would think this is the fastest route. I-5 is the biggest road heading south. However, there is lots of commuter traffic between Vancouver, WA and Eugene, OR which can slow you down. There are also lots of passes south of Eugene and the route takes you really far out of the way. I-5 has the highest posted speed limit, but it's only 5 MPH higher than traveling on US-97.
Do I really need to tune up my car?
Yes, you really need to tune up your car. You'll save money on gas, you'll be able to catch any potential problems and you'll have piece of mind your car is in good running condition. It's no fun to break down in the middle of nowhere.
How much will gas cost?
Lets use me as an example. I live in Seattle. I get 10 miles to the gallon (pretend). It's 2,000 miles there and back (assuming side trips). That's 200 gallons of fuel. Figure out the price at the pump ($2.00), add 20 cents per gallon. It will cost me $440.00 in gas. If you are towing a trailer, your mileage will plummet dramatically.
Where should I rent a truck?
If you plan on renting a 15' or larger panel truck or a trailer, whatever you do, if you accept no other advice from us, DO NOT RENT FROM U-HAUL. Don't do it. U-HAUL are corporate scumbags that love to stick you with hidden charges and scare tactics. Penske, Ryder, Thrifty, Budget, Hertz, or local or regional rental companies will have vehicles that are cheaper, better maintained and much more friendly service. One hidden cost is insurance. Your auto insurance should cover the cost of rental insurance. Check with your agent for more details You could end up saving $100.00 or more in hidden costs for something you already pay for.
Should I get AAA/CAA?
Yes. AAA Plus and it's 100 miles of free towing will be very cheap if you hit an errant cow. Yes, it does happen and you will have to buy the cow.
Some cell phone plans have free towing included. Check to see what your service plan covers.
Do I really need to do all of these things just to go to Burning Man?
No you don't have to do any of them. Honestly, you can just throw some clothes and food into the car and just go. Many of us did just that our first time. Some continue to do just that after multiple trips to the Playa. But many of us have made a few mistakes over the years. You only have to be stuck on the side of the road for six hours because your trailer tire shredded and the spare had a huge hole to learn that it's a great idea to check all of your tires before you leave your house. It's really up to you. If you like a nice, stress-free trip, we have some brilliant suggestions for you. Otherwise, go and have fun because that is what it is all about.
I heard there is uranium in the water in Gerlach. I don't want to die. Where should I get water?
I have bad news for you. There's uranium in the water you are drinking in whatever municipality you currently live in. Seattle, Vancouver, New York, it's there. Uranium as a mineral is actually more common than silver.
The water in Gerlach met all federal requirements for water safety until the final month of the Clinton Administration, when the President mandated the water quality needed vast improvement. This legislation was so important that it could wait until the final hours of the Clinton Administration.
As a result, the water in Gerlach does not currently meet that standard. If you are concerned, buy water and bring it. That's what I do. Not because of fears of unsafe water, it's because I prefer the taste of bottled water over Gerlach water. It's the same with bottled water over the taste of the water in Los Angeles, CA.
Where's the best place to get water?
At home. If you want water, you can buy some out of a hose at the Empire Store or bottled water in the store. I recommend buying water in advance to make sure you have it. You can get water in Lakeview, Alturas or Cedarville. But I am not going to tell you a place because what ends up happening is that people descend on places like locusts. The next year the place has a locked spigot. So for now, I recommend you make arrangements in advance.
Where's the best place to get booze?
What kind of alcoholic asks where to get booze? A thirsty alcoholic. First off, here's a quick review of State Liquor laws. Washignton, Idaho, Oregon have state run liquor stores. These have limited selection and limited hours. California and Nevada have private liquor stores, so you can buy booze in a grocery or convenience stores. Alturas has a large selection of liquor, but if you want something special like a single malt scotch or a special tequila, you are better off buying it in advance. You will not find McCallan 12 year in Alturas. The only places to buy liquor in Gerlach is the Miners Club, Bruno's Country Club or the Empire Store and there are no deals or wide selections. Reno has far cheaper prices on liquor, but it's 90 miles south. If you are heading into Reno, consider Costco, Albertson's or some of the stores listed on our map of Reno.