Burning Man Highway ShutDown, Was It Legal? Mudageddon

Burning Man Highway ShutDown, Was It Legal? Mudageddon

The famed Burning Man Festival in Northern Nevada attracts about 70,000 people a year.  Earlier this week, a rainstorm shut down the Black Rock playa, or dry lake bed, that Burning Man is held on, which is still going on.

The dirt road to the playa became un-drivable, and was shut down because of the mud.  We will call it Mudageddon.

Then something strange happened.   To the best of our knowledge, at the request of the BLM (Bureau of Land Management), over 100 miles of the paved highway, Highway 447, that is the primary access to Burning Man and Gerlach, was shut down.  The Nevada Highway Patrol did the actual shut down at the request of the BLM, according to sources at the scene.

This created a logistical nightmare, full time residents of Gerlach, the nearest town to Burning Man, could not get out, and supplies could not get in.   When an irate Gerlach resident got through to a Captain in the Highway Patrol, that Captain was unaware of the blockade.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of cars had to pull over to the shoulder.  Whereas there was a large supply of porta-pottys in Gerlach, there were none in the uninhabited desert areas the cars were backed up in.   So a lot of human waste problems were generated in the desert.

The shut down of the paved road seemed to make things much worse, not better.  However the bigger question is, does the BLM have the legal right to shut down over 100 miles of a State Highway?  We are aware of no such right.

  1. That is a very good question, Dana. Will we ever know the answer? The BLM seems
    to have power all it’s own and in this case the Nevada Highway Patrol fulfilled their
    request. The NHP now takes requests from the BLM?
    There were many stories about this shut down but you are the first to ask if the BLM
    had the legal right to do it?

    • There were several other communities (Wadsworth, Nixon, Empire) besides the town of Gerlach that were damaged by this closure. I wonder if those “burner hostages” understand that they might have small claims actions because of this usurpation by this government police action? Bottom line = know who you are and what your rights are!

  2. I just don’t understand, why shut down areas that are not having issues with the water. Gerlach has lots of areas that people could have parked and had meals while they were waiting for the area that was having issues to open. This seems pretty fishy. I hope you keep us updated on who was making these calls.


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