Black Rock Desert

Tripoli Pittsburgh

Black Rock Adventures

Surviving Balls

This was an informational web page for all the Tripoli Pittsburgh members that had attended the BALLS 14 launch out in the Black Rock desert on September 16-18, 2005. Below is some informational links so that you can become familiar with the Black Rock / Gerlach area.

Black Rock is quite a place to see. It has to be the most remote area in this country but still be big enough to be seen from space. The lake bed is 20 miles wide and 60 miles long and totally flat. Your so remote there isn't any cell phone service for over forty miles and the nearest phone is a pay phone at Bruno's. Speaking of Bruno's its the best food for 90 miles. { Its the only food for 90 miles. } But its still very good when you been out on the playa all day long. Plus their Ravioli is world famous. This also has to be the best place to star watch since its so dark the Milky Way shows up as a sold white band across the sky. And its so clear you can follow your rocket to 20,000 feet using just your eyes, and recovering your rocket is the easiest since you can drive right up to it. If you plan to drive any car can drive on the playa, if you are going into the mountain then you must have a 4x4 car. This is why this area is called rocket heaven!


Balls 17 - The official Balls launch website

Friends of Black Rock - A group trying to save the Black Rock / High Rock area
Christine Balls Photos - Check out my photos from all my different trips
Ian's Black Rock Pages - Great background and lots of links
Bureau of Land Management, Winnemucca Field Office - BLM Website
Nevada Dept. of Tourism - Other things to do while your out there
Reno & Tahoe Information - Things to do in the area
Burning Man - Nothing to do with rockets, they are there two week ahead of us
775-557-2220 - Phone number to Bruno's Hotel & Casino


All people attending this launch have to pay $40 range registration fees. Even spectators have to pay the fee. Most of this fee goes to the BLM to be able to use the land. The fee goes up to $60 at the launch so make sure you do this early.


If staying in the world famous Bruno's Motel:

Water - Lots of water very dry compared to here
Wide Brim Hat - Keep the sun off your face
Sunglasses - Very bright sun
Suntan Lotion - Get a very high SPF, again its bright out there
Chair - I've been know to buy a cheap chair out there, rather than shipping one.
Water - No I am not kidding
Warm Weather Coat - Morning are around 47 degrees
Rain Coat - And hope we don't need it
FRS Radios - Its a big place and its the only way to keep in touch
GPS - If you have one bring it. If you get off the path then you have to have one
Water - And even more water

If sleeping in the dirt {As Tom likes to say}:

All of the above.
Sleeping Bag - One that can handle low 50 degrees
A Good Tent - There's at least one 40 MPG windstorm per day
Good Stakes - There's a lot of wind out there
Ground Cloth - The lakebed is hard on tent bottoms. {Alkali Lake}
Flash Light - Its a dark walk to the bathrooms
Ski Cap - Helps keep that head warm at night
Water - Even more since you will be outside more.
Binoculars or Telescope - You cant believe the stars you will see.
A Cooler - I personal use one of the collapsible ones.
Food - Bruno's is a long way in to eat every meal
Small Backpacking stove. - Maybe we will have a group stove


The Big Range Tent - Pittsburgh Base Camp and sun shield for all
Large Table - Prep area and eating place
Large Cooler - Keep the drinks and all that water cool
Coleman Lantern - For the people sleeping out in the dirt
Two Burner Stove - Does anyone have one we can use?


Yes you can! On Friday's, you can fly certified rocket motors K impulse or greater. And then on Saturday and Sunday its only experimental motors only. You will not find any Estes pads at BALLS. Please note that you should make arrangements with a vendor if you need a motor. Since this is an Research launch there wont be any certified motor vendors at the site. If you check with the west coast vendors they might make arrangements for delivery to the field. Please note the waiver is 100,000 feet so please don't try to break the waiver. So this could be a once in a lifetime experience to fly at rocket heaven.


Driving Directions To Gerlach, NV / Balls Launch Site
Enter Your Starting Address: {Example: 1234 Main St, Pittsburgh, PA, 15222}

Thanks Google Maps

Created June 28, 2005
Late Update May 28, 2008
Version 1.3