Black Rock Desert Area
I returned to the Black Rock Desert area, hoping to find the playa surface to be dry enough for exploration.
I approached from Lovelock, NV heading north along Seven Troughs Road. Only the first 15 miles is paved, and the rest is well-graded dirt. It's dusty but it's easy to drive fast. I ran into (well, over) many Mormon Crickets which were swarming through the area.
I reached the Black Rock Desert playa at Sulphur. Sulphur looks pretty big
on my map, but there's nothing there, but the remains of an old building, some
dead machinery, and (of course) a big stinky pile of yellow sulfur ore.
Well, despite my high hopes, the Playa wasn't dry. In fact it was much wetter than just a week ago. The center was a 30 mile stripe of dark impassable mud. There was even some grass up north. I ended up driving a couple of hours around — down south to Gerlach, and then back up the west side of the playa, where I camped for the night before continuing my clockwise circle around to Double Hot Springs.
I had visited Double Hot Springs back in the summer of 2001, but now someone had
added a (privacy?) wall, and a second filling pipe to the bathing tub. With all
the recent rain, the desert vegetation was fabulously green.
A shortcut crosses the north end of the Black Rock Desert playa at Wheeler
Reservoir. The Wheeler Reservoir dam is no longer complete, so it's necessary to
ford the water in one section.
One way out of the Black Rock Desert area to the north, is through the High
Rock Canyon, a historic section of the Applegate Trail and taken by other early
travelers. It's not an easy route — definitely for high-clearance 4WD. Inside, the
lush greenery is a wonderful contrast to the surrounding desert rock.
I spent my last night camping at the north end of High Rock Canyon, near Bernards Corral, before passing through Vya (a few buildings), and leaving Nevada on the unpaved Route 34.
I recommend Chuck Dodd's Guide to Getting Around in the Black Rock Desert & High Rock Canyon for information on exploring the area. Here's my GPS track log overlaid on a satellite image from Google Earth: