During Burning Man Black Rock City Becomes One of Nevada’s Largest Cities myth

During Burning Man Does Black Rock City Become One of Nevada’s Largest Cities?

Does Black Rock Really Become One of Nevada’s Largest Cities During Burning Man?

In 2014, Black Rock City became the 10th largest city/town in Nevada when Burning Man brought in 65,922 attendees. It should be noted that Black Rock City is not a city, it’s an LLC that hosts the Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert.

How Many People Go to Burning Man?

When the inaugural Burning Man festival began in 1986, there was a grand total of 20 attendees. Fast forward thirty years and an astounding 65,922 people attended in 2014. About the same number of people were expected to attend in 2015.[1]

How Many People Live in Black Rock City?

In 1997, Burning Man changed its official location in the Black Rock Desert from Pershing County to Washoe County. Pershing County (which houses the towns of Lovelock and Imlay) had a population of 6,714 as of July 1st, 2014. Washoe on the other hand (which contains Reno and Sparks) had a population of 436,797 as of July 1st, 2014.[2]

Population estimates don’t seem to exist for Black Rock, but we can look at the county it is in for a population estimate or consider burning man’s attendees to be the cities’ population.

Black Rock Isn’t Technically a City

Despite its name, Black Rock is an unincorporated town and not a city.

How Many People Live in Nevada’s Cities?

Below is a list of the top incorporated cities by population and then-unincorporated town/cities by population.

Incorporated cities[2]:

  1. • Las Vegas: 610,637
  2. • Henderson: 280,928
  3. • North Las Vegas: 230,491
  4. • Reno: 235,371
  5. • Sparks: 92,396

Unincorporated towns/cities[2]:

  1. • Sunrise Manor: 202,710
  2. • Spring Valley: 191,342
  3. • Paradise: 191,047
  4. • Enterprise: 174,064

Black Rock City would come in sixth if compared to incorporated cities. Since Black Rock City itself is not incorporated, it better compared against other unincorporated Nevada towns. That would put it at #10.

If compared by county (rather than city) however, it moves much farther up the list. The two most populated counties in Nevada are Washoe (with Reno and Sparks) and Clark County (with Vegas, Henderson, Sunrise and Spring Valley in it). Washoe is the second largest county with or without Burning Man. However, if we consider Burning Man to be in Pershing then Pershing would be the #3 most populated county during Burning Man and one of the least populated counties when not populated by Burning Man attendees.

Governor Certified Population Estimates of Nevada’s Counties, Cities and Towns 2000 to 2014

Clark County 2,069,450
Boulder City 15,627
Las Vegas 610,637
Mesquite 18,262
North Las Vegas 230,491
Unincorporated towns:
Bunkerville 1,039
Enterprise 174,064
Indian Springs 1,220
Laughlin 8,963
Moapa 1,352
Moapa Valley 6,851
Mt. Charleston 635
Paradise 191,047
Searchlight 344
Spring Valley 191,342
Summerlin 27,244
Sunrise Manor 202,710
Whitney 40,567


Washoe County 436,797
Reno 235,371
Sparks 92,396
No towns


Pershing County 6,714
Lovelock 1,952
Unincorporated towns:
Imlay 257

Black Rock isn’t officially a city and even when Burning Man is in full force it still has far less people in it compared to the permanent population of Reno or Las Vegas or even Sparks. If we consider visitors to the other cities during Burning Man the numbers become even less impressive. Certainly Burning Man increases the population of Black Rock City substantially, but not enough to consider it “one of Nevada’s largest cities”.


  1. Fact Checker: Is Burning Man 3rd largest Nevada city?“. Rgj.com. Retrieved Jan 19, 2016.
  2. Governor Certified Population Estimates of Nevada’s Counties, Cities and Towns 2000 to 2014“. Nvdemography.org. Retrieved Jan 19, 2016. (Notably lacking Black Rock City)


Author: Thomas DeMichele

Thomas DeMichele is the content creator behind ObamaCareFacts.com, FactMyth.com, CryptocurrencyFacts.com, and other DogMediaSolutions.com and Massive Dog properties. He also contributes to MakerDAO and other cryptocurrency-based projects. Tom's focus in all...

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