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Northern Route Driving Directions

By wally(at)gwally(dot)com

How to get to Burning Man from British Columbia, Oregon, Washington, even Northern California!

Welcome to the northern route directions! If you are going to Burning Man and live in Oregon, Washington or British Columbia, these directions offer the best route and tips for driving from your home to Black Rock City. These directions will take you from Eugene, OR to Black Rock City, NV.

While we would love to offer custom directions to get you from your doorstep to Black Rock City, the person that writes the directions (ME!) is too stinking lazy. So instead of investing in a custom-designed mapping engine, we have invested in a six-pack of root beer and laid out the directions as best as we could remember. Then we augmented our research by scanning the Yellow Pages and bothering friends for more information. The end result is a treasure trove of misinformation neatly organized and constantly updated. It also offers a newer, faster route that takes people past a really neat hot spring. Why aren't we telling you about that one? Face it, we are trying to guarantee we have a camping spot.

We would be darned surprised if you didn't have better things to do than to read through the information on the arf site, so we have summarized the more useful information right here for easy access.

Although the directions make perfect sense to me, perhaps we should explain how they are laid out. Each segment is broken down as travel between destination spots and the approximate mileage between the landmarks along the way. This is to give better details on your progress and to give the navigator who was appointed to the job simply because he yelled, "shotgun" something to do besides sticking their hand out the window and waving it up and down in the wind. Just be happy they are not yelling obnoxious comments like, "MOO!" to any cows you pass. Feel free to print out several copies and take them with you. That way, you have more copies to lose.

Oh, by the way, before we start, can we suggest that you place your tickets for Burning Man in an envelope, then securely tape your tickets to the inside of your glove box? This lessens the chance that you will leave them in a truck stop bathroom or on the kitchen counter at home.

We break out the journey from each point in mileage and the approximate time it should take to legally drive from point A to point B. Your actual time may vary depending on your lead foot or your lead ass. For instance, we list that our starting point Eugene, Oregon is 168 miles from Klamath Falls, Oregon. We estimate it will take you 4 hours of normal driving time. This assumes you didn't get stuck behind a herd of semi trucks crawling from Oakridge to the top of the pass at 10 mph. We also break out the distance between certain landmarks and add in interesting points along the way. Actually calling some of these places towns may be giving them a little more justice than they deserve. Some have nothing more than a post office and a few abandoned stores. The only place we can safely say has services such as gas stations and stores are the towns that we identify. Otherwise, you may see an open gas station on the road or you may not.

The starting point

Our starting point is Eugene, Oregon. If you are coming from Seattle, it should take you 5 hours. If coming from Vancouver, BC, it should take 9 hours, minus border hassles. If you are coming from Spokane, WA or Bend, OR, pick up the route where you feel it works for you. Are you ready? Here we go!

Eugene to Klamath Falls, Oregon
Distance: 168 mi.
Driving time: 4 hours

From Eugene you will pass through the Willamette National Forest with breathtaking views and wonderful Douglas Firs. This is the last time on the journey you will see trees like this. From here on out the land becomes more arid as you go.

Just south of Eugene, take exit #188A to OR-58 (Willamette HWY) towards Oakridge/Klamath Falls. Keep going left at the fork in the ramp.
Take OR-58 to US-97 (86 mi total).
You will pass through Goshen (6.6 mi).
You will pass through Pleasant Hill (4 mi).
You will pass through Trent (4 mi).
You will pass through Minnow (7.2 mi).
You will pass through Crale (5.7 mi).
You will pass through Hampton (4 mi).
You will pass through Willamette City (9.5 mi).
You will pass through Oakridge (1.4 mi).
Note: This is the last town of any size until Klamath Falls.
Note: Kitson Hot Springs is 4.6 mi away down Kitson Springs Rd.
You will pass through McCredie Springs (10 mi - 18 min).
You will cross the Willamette Pass (5,128 ft).
You will pass Crescent Lake.
You will pass through Crescent Lake Junction (24 mi - 42 min).
You will reach US-97. Turn slightly right and head south for Klamath Falls (16.7 mi).
Note: If you need gas or food, La Pine is 28 mi north on US-97.
Take US-97 to Klamath Falls (78 mi total).
You will pass through Chemult (11 mi).
You will pass thorough Beaver Marsh (18 mi).
You will pass by Modoc Point (50 mi).
At Modoc, you will follow the shoes of Upper Klamath Lake into Klamath Falls (20 mi).
You will pass through Algoma (21 mi).
Welcome to Klamath Falls.

Klamath Falls to Alturas, CA
Distance: 100 mi.
Driving time: 2.5 hours

You have to weave through Klamath Falls before you head off to Merrill, then on to California. It is approximately 24 mi to the border. The entire town closes down at 11:00 PM. There is not a single grocery store open until 7:00 AM. The only thing open late is a Denny's located next to the Safeway.

Stay straight to go onto KIT CARSON WAY. (2 mi).
Stay straight to go onto OR-39 (5 mi).
You will pass through Merrill, OR (12 mi - 30 min).
In California, OR-39 becomes CA-139. Head south to CA-299 (56 mi total).
You will pass through Tule Lake (8 mi - 15 min).
You will pass through Newell (7 mi - 14 min).
You will pass by Copic (2 mi).
You pass through a California Agricultural Station (think of it as a border crossing). You will be asked pointed questions about certain fruits and vegetables you might be carrying (12 mi).
You will pass by Perez (2.6 mi).
You will pass through Ambrose (20 mi).
Continue to the intersection of CA-139 and CA-299 (8 mi).
Take a left at CA-299 and head East to Alturas, CA (19 mi).
Just past the interchange, you will pass through Canby (1 mi).
Welcome to Alturas, CA.

Alturas, CA to Cedarville, CA
Distance: 23 mi.
Driving time: 32 minutes

After leaving Alturas, there is nothing in the way of services until Cedarville. The Cedarville Pass is 6,305 ft and from the top of the pass to Cedarville is very steep and windy road. If you ride your brakes, they can easily overheat and catch fire. Also, beware of cows that congregate on the roadway halfway down. No, I am not kidding.

CA-299 becomes US-395 outside of Alturas. I think right at Main Street.
Continue past the California Agricultural Station to the turn off for CA-299 to Cedarville (6 mi).
Take CA-299 to Cedarville. Along the way you cross the Cedar Pass (6,305 ft) (17 mi).
Welcome to Cedarville, CA. Here you'll find gas, food and groceries. See our Cedarville information page for a full listing of businesses.

Cedarville, CA to Gerlach, NV
Distance: 83 mi.
Driving time: 2.5 hours

This is the most desolate stretch of the journey. The only business along the way between Cedarville and Gerlach is Planet X Potter a few miles outside of Gerlach. There are almost no houses and I do not know if the ones along the route are occupied or not.

Turn right at the gas station (after gassing up) and continue south to Gerlach on CA-447 (82 mi).
The road is actually called Surprise Valley RD.
You will pass through Eagleville (15 mi - 26 min).
In the distance to the left, you will see Middle Alkali and Lower Alkali Lake.
The color of the road completely changes. Welcome to Nevada (8 mi - 15 min).
You will notice the lack of anything except hills and scrub bushes.
You pass Planet X Pottery (50 mi - 1 hour 30 min).
You arrive in Gerlach (10 mi - 15 min).

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 and participants alike. Remember, anything you do reflects on the festival as a whole.

Head north from Gerlach to the fork in the road (1 mi).
Veer right and continue on NV-34 (11 mi).
On the right side of the road you should see the entrance of the festival. Follow the signs posted by Burning Man staff to conclude the journey. There will be directions on how to get to the festival from here. Follow the posted signs, drive below the speed limit and if you for some reason cannot find your way, stop at a bar and ask for directions. I highly recommend that you top off your tank before heading out to the festival.

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