Talk:Black Rock Desert

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WikiProject Nevada (Rated C-class, Mid-importance)
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The coordinates specified should be -ve.

Currently pasting into google earth sends us somewhere into Japan or China I cannot verify all of them, but I know they aren't correct as is.

Looks like someone fixed them. (SEWilco 23:13, 10 March 2007 (UTC))

Disclosure of link to own site[edit]

I looked through the Wikipedia policies and, as I understand them, I think my addition of a link to my own web page about the Black Rock Desert should not be controversial. Though I needed to post this explanation to avoid appearance of a conflict of interest. Some notes:

  • The page has no advertising
  • It is obviously intended to be informative.
  • It contains information based on dozens of visits, including thousands of photos of rocketry events and recreational visits to the Black Rock Desert.
  • Friends have suggested that I should add this link since Dec 2003. I have hesitated to add it myself because it's my page and I wasn't familiar with Wikipedia policies on that. But it's been long enough and no one else has done it.
  • My page is well known among rocketry clubs and hobbyists. One comment I heard at an AeroPAC rocket launch about how newcomers were coming better prepared: "Everyone read Ian's web page and knew to bring enough water."

Good enough? Ikluft 10:44, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

  • I think that sounds fine. More information is needed anyway. I remember being really shocked when I first noticed that there wasn't even a mention of rocketry on the page at all. I added a short line about it, but no one ever seemed to really develope it. Selevercin 15:10, 7 July 2007 (UTC)
    • OK, good. Thanks for the encouragement. If you'd like some help with the rocketry info on the page, I can do that. The first thing that I'd suggest changing is the BALLS15 link - AHPRA has an odd tradition of changing the event's domain every year (so it's BALLS16 this year) and has already let the BALLS15 domain expire. So the link points at the squatter who swiped the domain. So it's probably better for Wikipedia to link to AHPRA where the link will be stable. I'd also suggest linking to AeroPAC, since that's the organization which hosts 3 launches, and is the TRA prefecture which actually has Black Rock in its region. See my page and/or the three rocketry organizations who launch there for the list of annual launches. I'm in the same boat again about adding a link to AeroPAC since you can see on the site that I'm involved in maintaining the web site. Ikluft 17:05, 7 July 2007 (UTC)
  • FYI - I updated the link. I moved my Black Rock pages to their own web site at It's still the same content. Old links still work via server redirection. Ikluft (talk) 05:03, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

Rocketry info[edit]

I clarified the existing rocketry info and added some to make it more complete. I added the AeroPAC and AHPRA links that I suggested above. Instead of just listing BALLS, I listed all the major HPR launches which occur at Black Rock. I categorized the page under Model rocketry. Please double check correct Wikipedia formatting and neutrality were observed. Ikluft 01:18, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

Black Rock Desert Region[edit]

I did some linking and categorizing to bring together the pages of the Black Rock Desert region of Nevada.

I've added Category:Black Rock Desert and Template:Black Rock Desert. The template contains links to other pages in the region, and makes them navigable among the pages of the region. The category lists pages related to the region. More are in the category than use the template, because pages had to be primarily about Black Rock to be given the template.

Once this bound together the pages for the region, I added the Black Rock Desert to the list of regions in Template:Nevada and put the Nevada template on the Black Rock Desert page. Ikluft (talk) 04:36, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

  • I've added links to the NCA and all the wilderness areas in the Black Rock region. Two wilderness areas already had pages. I added stub pages for the rest of them and for the NCA. Now they're also listed on the Navbox Template:Black Rock Desert. Ikluft (talk) 03:29, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

Remove the Photo of the BLM Eight Mile Sign[edit]

I'd like to discuss removing the image of the BLM Eight Mile Sign from the Black Rock Desert page. The reason is that this is a picture of a sign, the desert is barely visible. As an analogy, if this were an article about the Eiffel Tower, would we have a picture of a sign that said "Eiffel Tower"? There are plenty of good photos of the Black Rock Desert that could be used. A picture of the Black Rock might be nice, or just remove it and keep the picture of the desert below. Comments? Cxbrx (talk) 17:38, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

  • I agree. I've thought the same thing looking at it. But it was put there by someone else before I got to helping with the Black Rock Desert page. Until we got more content on the page, there was nothing really to talk about with that image. I suppose we could swap it with one of the other photos below, or the photo I put on the Template:Black Rock Desert. As long as it stays somewhere on the page then we're preserving the effort of the volunteer who put it there. Ikluft (talk) 01:36, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
    • Ok, I just asked User:Fo0bar, photographer of the photo in question, to join the discussion over here. Maybe he has a photo of the Black Rock itself. Cxbrx (talk) 03:36, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
    • I was already working on it when you posted the comment. BTW, I have thousands of photos of the Black Rock region, though mostly at rocket launches and some camping trips. I moved the photo of the playa entrance sign down with the other photos. I added a photo of the playa with Razorback mountain (sometimes called the "Elephant Back"), since that's a more common view to visitors. Most don't get far enough up the playa to see Black Rock Point. Ikluft (talk) 03:42, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
  • Hiya. I uploaded that picture when the article was only a few paragraphs and had no photos. If you guys want to remove it, that's fine with me. I took a few other photos of the playa that day, but it was quite hazy (you can see the haze from the mountains in the background of the sign pic), and none of them looked very good. The significance of that particular sign (there are multiple official entry points from the highway) is that it's the entrance used during Burning Man. --Fo0bar (talk) 08:08, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
    • Ok, I removed the photo, primarily on the basis of esthetics. This is a subjective call on my part, but I feel that a photo of a sign does not really capture the spirit of the place. I certainly do appreciate the effort Fo0bar put in adding the photo, and if the article was longer and had a section about the BLM's efforts in the area, then maybe it could go back in. Since this is an esthetic issue, I'm more than willing to have someone put the photo back up and I won't revert. Many thanks for discussion. Cxbrx (talk) 19:22, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
      • I think the sign is OK where it was, in the BLM section of the article. The photo's information page could be improved by adding the location/coordinates of the sign, however. -- SEWilco (talk) 19:42, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
        • If we gather a few more photos of Black Rock, we can re-add it later (or right now) in a photo gallery section. Ikluft (talk) 22:45, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

Considered one of the Flattest Places on Earth[edit]

What about the "Considered one of the flattest surfaces on the earth" text? This is vague and not very encyclopedic. It is tagged with a "citation needed". The question is, considered by whom? Looking at the web, many people misidentify the Black Rock Desert as the flattest place on Earth. What does it really mean to be flattest? Does it mean that the surface follows the curvature of the earth or that it really is planar? I'm certain that the Salar de Uyuni (10,582 km²) in Bolivia is the largest salt flat in the world and therefore fairly certain that it is the flattest place on earth because of how the salt flows like a liquid. (see also [[1]]). The dry lake portion of the Black Rock Desert does have some slope to it, water does collect at the north end and in the middle, topo maps and photos indicate this. Perhaps we should consider removing this unless we can get something really citable?

I'm also wondering about the area measurement of 1000 square miles (2600 km²). Both Encyclopedia Brittanica and apparently the NY Times Almanac give 1000 square miles or 2600 km², 1000 square miles is an area 31 miles square, so I'm not sure what this number means. Most definitions of the Black Rock Desert include both arms of the desert, which is much more than 31 miles North-South or East-West. I'm just not sure what this number really measures: Does it measure the flat area of the "Playa" or does it include the North and South arms. BTW - Bonneville Salt Flats comes in at 412 km². Any ideas? Cxbrx (talk) 04:39, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

  • I don't know. I've been leaving that statement alone. It goes back to the days when the page was mainly put together by hearsay from Burning Man attendees. Locals believe it's one of the largest flat surfaces on earth (a point which I use on my Black Rock page on my personal web site), which is not the same thing as flattest surfaces on earth. All the road ruts and mini-dunes negate any claim of precision in its flat surface. So I'm fairly certain the statement is wrong the way it's worded on this page. I'd be in favor of just removing that phrase from the intro. If at some point we find a reference for how Black Rock compares with the size of other dry lakebeds on the planet, we can add that at the time. Ikluft (talk) 04:48, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
  • One thing to keep in mind when making comparisons... Black Rock is a playa but not a salt flat. This kind is a mud flat or alkalai flat. You can tell the difference because Black Rock has a sandy texture to it. Ikluft (talk) 04:56, 31 December 2007 (UTC)
    • I definitely agree that the lowest part of the Black Rock is not a salt flat. BTW - IMHO, the mini dunes are a recent trend, see this photo from 1968. The web is not very good at providing information about the "most-ests" of anything. A good, citeable list of dry lake beds and their areas would be nice. However, even defining a dry lake bed could be difficult. Lake Lahontan is a dry lake, the problem is that it has not been fully flooded for some time. Anyway, I'll remove that phrase, we can keep this discussion as a reference. Cxbrx (talk) 05:20, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

Geobox added[edit]

I added a geobox to the page. Though many of the fields left blank wouldn't make any sense, some do. Feel free to add any relevant (and of course either referenced or non-controversial) information to it. Ikluft (talk) 11:07, 8 January 2008 (UTC)


I did some edits to make the page more safety-conscious. The article is starting to look more serious so it better not neglect serious matters like this. I added "Hazards of travel in the Black Rock Desert" because we'd be endangering lives if Wikipedia made it look easy to go there and didn't mention the dangers of traveling in the desert. Also, the section on "Hot springs in the Black Rock Desert region" needed some intro text and, well, an overhaul. I added links to BLM's "stay out and stay alive" campaign about hot springs, and the RGJ article about the lawsuit that led to it. I also removed most of the hot springs that were listed apparently gratuituously. Just the main three well-known springs remain on the list. And though they aren't controversial, we should try to dig up a reference for them too. Ikluft (talk) 11:17, 8 January 2008 (UTC)

Looks like someone took it out. Kortoso (talk) 20:23, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

Black Rock Desert Utah[edit]

There is also a black rock desert in Utah, near Filmore. It would be nice to change the name of this page to reflect that this article is specific to the black rock desert in Nevada, and not to the one in Utah. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:56, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

If that desert is notable, when an article is written then someone will perform disambiguation. -- SEWilco (talk) 19:08, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
Adding to SEWilco's point, there is precedent on Wikipedia for a vastly more common usage of a term to remain on the page named by the term. The Black Rock Desert in Nevada is a region of the state with various recreational activities, historical references, and world records. The Black Rock Desert in Utah is an area of obsidian lava flows mainly of interest to geologists, based on web search results. There is already a link to a non-existent page Black Rock Desert Volcanic Field, Utah on List of volcanoes in the United States of America - when someone creates that page, we should at that time add a disambiguation link to it on the Black Rock Desert page and add it to the existing Black Rock disambiguation page. Ikluft (talk) 05:57, 23 January 2008 (UTC)
I added it to the Black Rock disambiguation page. There were already plenty of other links there to pages which have not been created yet. Ikluft (talk) 08:18, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

Playa/Dry Lake/Mud Flat/Alkali Flat/Salt Pan[edit]

User:Fayenatic_london added Black Rock Desert to the Salt Pans category which I feel is incorrect, so I'm reverting. The Black Rock Desert is not a salt pan, it is a playa, dry lake, alkali flat or mud flat. From personal observation, the Black Rock Desert has very little, if any Halite. The Black Rock Desert consists of unstratified, somewhat alkali clay or mud that does not taste salty. At best, I've possibly observed a very thin (<1mm) crust of white a white mineral that might be salt. However, Wikipedia is not about original research so I looked at Google Scholar, and I was not able to find a reputable geological reference that refers to the Black Rock Desert as a salt pan. Many non-scientific books and articles refer to the Black Rock Desert as a salt flat or salt pan, but this is not correct.

  • There is plenty of confusion in this area though, see Briere, Peter R. (2002). "Playa, playa lake, sabkha: Proposed definitions for old terms". Journal of Arid Environments (Elsevier) 45 (1): 1–7. doi:10.1006/jare.2000.0633.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (|date= suggested) (help); .
  • A good description about salt pan evaporites can be found at: Lowenstein, Tim K.; Lawrence A. Hardie (1985). "Criteria for the recognition of salt-pan evaporites". Sedimentation 32 (5): 627–644. doi:10.1111/j.1365-3091.1985.tb00478.x.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthor= (help); Unknown parameter |month= ignored (|date= suggested) (help); The abstract says "The resulting deposits consist of alternating layers (millimetres to decimetres) of halite and mud". The Black Rock Desert does not have such alternating layers.

I'm open to discussion on this, but I'd like to see some citations from the geological literature. Cxbrx (talk) 04:55, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

That's fine by me. At the time, the article Salt pan (geology) listed this as a prime example of a salt pan.
At the moment Playa's first line includes "or salt flat", and salt flat redirects there. This does not seem helpful.
Is a salt pan is the same as a salt flat? - Fayenatic (talk) 18:11, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
Yes. Either way, the surface needs to be primarily salt to call it a salt pan or salt flat. For example, compare the photos of the surface at Bonneville Salt Flats (white/gray colored) against Black Rock (brown/sandy colored). Black Rock is dirt/clay/mud. So it's a mud flat or alkalai flat. Ikluft (talk) 15:36, 25 May 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. Please now join the discussion at Talk:Salt pan (geology)#Dry lake bed and add that to your watchlist rather than continuing here. That discussion includes a new category to include this article. - Fayenatic (talk) 21:40, 25 May 2008 (UTC)

significant cleanups done[edit]

I did some cleanups and reorganization trying to raise the article's assessment from the current C class. Take a look at WP:BCLASS and see what else it needs to get there. Ikluft (talk) 00:09, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

  • Here's a problem that still needs to be fixed. The two refs which point to Reno Gazette-Journal articles have expired off their site. We'll need to find replacements. Ikluft (talk) 00:36, 13 October 2008 (UTC)
    • Yes check.svg Done The Reno articles were not at, but I found others from reliable sources using Google. - Fayenatic (talk) 14:13, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for the help that you and others have done with updating the references and some other clean-ups. I also went through and tidied up some more things as well. How do things look toward getting the article up to the next step at WP:BCLASS? Or if we're there now, then please go ahead and assess it. Ikluft (talk) 15:55, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

  • FYI. Take a look at the new project banner above. I updated this to include the B-class criteria. Once the 6 assessment criteria are met, the article will be listed as B class. This should help for all project articles. Vegaswikian (talk) 19:14, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
    • Looks good. Thanks. Ikluft (talk) 02:40, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
  • While not a part of the work needed for B class, the images in the article need some layout cleanup. I believe that images should not be used to box in text in the middle. So, if the images can not be moved within the article, maybe a gallery should be created at the end of the article to hold the excess images. Vegaswikian (talk) 20:34, 7 November 2008 (UTC)
    • OK, I grouped the two images into a table on the right side of the text. Ikluft (talk) 02:40, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

cleaned up references again[edit]

In 2009, some edits resulted in needing cleanup of the references. I've cleaned them up, which should retain the article's Class B criteria. Let's finish up the review of coverage and grammar to finally get it up to Class B. Ikluft (talk) 10:07, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

  • Anyone willing to help with a review, please see the WikiProject Nevada template at the top of this talk page. The article only needs to be reviewed for "Coverage and accuracy" and "Grammar and style" to get the two remaining check-marks which will automatically upgrade it from Class C to B. It is not a problem if these reviews find things which need to be fixed - we'll fix them. But it can't get to Class B without someone doing a review who was not significantly involved in the writing. This review has been requested for more than a year. Be bold. Volunteer. Ikluft (talk) 02:01, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

Layout help needed[edit]

This article needs some expert help on layout. The series of infoboxes and images result in the [edit] tags being bunched up in unhelpful places. I can't figure out how to fix it in a way that looks OK regardless of the width of the browser window. - Fayenatic (talk) 21:57, 15 May 2010 (UTC)