Vehicles at Burning Man

Black Rock City is huge, and it grows larger each year. How does one navigate such an expanse? It’s daunting. Human (foot and bike) power is the standard mode of transportation in Black Rock City, but as Burning Man continues to grow, and BRC expands to accommodate its population, more people are tempted to fall back on their attachment to driving to get around.

Trying to register a vehicle to bring to Black Rock City? Go here.

With a city of tens of thousands of people, and the problems inherent in human-vehicle interaction (over the years we have seen severe injuries and even death due to vehicle-related accidents), it is critical that Burning Man remain primarily a city for pedestrians and bicyclists. The only vehicles that may be driven at Burning Man are staff and service vehicles, vehicles for people with a physical disability, and Mutant Vehicles.

The Department of Mutant Vehicles (DMV) was created in 1997 to address the very real challenges of non-human powered driving at Burning Man. It was the alternative to banning the movement of vehicles at the event altogether. Black Rock City can only accommodate a small number of vehicles being driven. If you wish to bring your Mutant Vehicle to Black Rock City or require accommodation due to a disability, you must go through the DMV licensing process.

This section covers everything you need to know about operating vehicles at Burning Man, including:

Vehicle Rules and Protocols

Black Rock City is designed for pedestrians and bicycles. Movement of vehicles during Burning Man is limited. Here are the rules for the movement of vehicles, and the types of vehicles allowed, in Black Rock City.

1. Driving Rules In Black Rock City

Anyone driving at Burning Man must adhere to all BRC driving rules. These include:

  • Only drive vehicles licensed or allowed to drive in Black Rock City
  • Abide by all applicable federal and Nevada state laws, including all open container laws (no open containers within reach of the driver)
  • Drive at a speed of 5 mph or less (less in hazardous situations such as tight crowds)
  • Give the right of way to pedestrians, bicycles, and emergency services vehicles
  • Follow the reasonable and applicable vehicle laws for road safety
  • Stop immediately upon being hailed by any BRC Staff member, Black Rock Ranger, or law enforcement officer
  • No driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • No driving on pedestrian-designated streets (see your map for details)
  • No driving during whiteouts
  • No driving on wet or freshly-watered roads
  • Any additional guidelines set forth by Burning Man
  • Obey sound policies

Additional Driving Guidelines for Mutant Vehicles
In addition to adhering to the driving rules indicated above, Mutant Vehicles must:

  • Create a clear field of vision for the operator
  • Have ground guides (walkers) if the vehicle is large, has a limited field of vision or can be dangerous to pedestrians
  • Have a safe access area and procedures for loading and unloading passengers
  • Clearly display the Mutant Vehicle license in a location specified by the DMV

2. Motorized Vehicles in Black Rock City

A motorized vehicle is defined as a conveyance powered by ANY type of motor/drive system, including (but not limited to) wheeled, tracked, or hovering systems, powered by electric, gas or other fuel, i.e. anything that is not solely human powered. All motorized vehicles must remain parked and stationary for the duration of the Burning Man event, with the following exceptions:

Licensed Mutant Vehicles 
The only Mutant Vehicles allowed to enter Black Rock City are those that have received an email from the DMV inviting the vehicle to go through final inspection on the playa for a Mutant Vehicle license. For more on these see the DMV page.

Licensed Vehicles for People with Disabilities 
If you have a physical disability, you should be able to receive a disabled license from the DMV. Pre-registration is preferred whenever possible. Please go here to find out more about vehicles and transportation for those with disabilities.

Staff, Emergency, and Law Enforcement Agency Vehicles
These vehicles are crucial to the safety and operation of our event.

Certain Wind-Powered Vehicles
Certain types of wind-powered vehicles are allowed within Black Rock City limits. Registration and licensing of these vehicles is not required; however, these vehicles are subject to all of the BRC driving rules listed above. Drivers are encouraged to decorate their crafts.

Wind-powered vehicles allowed in Black Rock City must have the following characteristics:

  • An effective mechanical braking system
  • A pivoting mast
  • Weight of no more than 50 pounds; an additional 30-50 pounds should be allowed for small trailers (in general, the vehicle should be easily hoisted above the head of the operator)
  • Operational only while operator is standing

Electric Bicycles
In terms of powered bicycles, we follow Nevada state law on what is classified as an electric bicycle (and hence entitled to be treated as a standard bicycle in terms of state traffic regulations).  The Black Rock Department of Mutant Vehicles does not require registration or licensing for anything fitting these criteria.

  1. ELECTRIC BICYCLES
    1. Electric bicycles as defined by Nevada state law may operate during the event without any sort of license.  That definition is as follows:
      1. “Electric bicycle” means a device upon which a person may ride, having two or three wheels, or every such device generally recognized as a bicycle that has fully operable pedals and is propelled by a small electric engine which produces not more than 1 gross brake horsepower and which produces not more than 750 watts final output, and:
      2. Is designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground but is not a tractor; and
      3. Powered solely by such a small electric engine, is capable of a maximum speed of not more than 20 miles per hour on a flat surface while carrying an operator who weighs 170 pounds.
      4. The term does not include a moped.

Small Motorized Skateboards 
Though not an encouraged means of transportation, small, stand-up (no seat), one-person style “skateboards on wheels” (e.g. Go-Peds) are allowed at Black Rock City. We encourage you to use an electric model, one with a muffler, or other style that does not create that loud “buzzzzzz”, which many feel detracts from the event. These are motor vehicles, so riders must obey the same driving rules as other vehicle drivers. Decorating these and/or mutating these scooters is strongly preferred. (A lot of people would like to see these noisy things banned, but we’ve avoided just making “one more rule” and instead ask owners of such vehicles to operate them with respect!)

Street Vehicles driven to Black Rock City and on their way to camp 
When you arrive in Black Rock City, you must drive directly to your camp and park there until you leave.

Vehicles Not Allowed to Enter Black Rock City

Any vehicle not listed above, including off-road recreational vehicles, may not enter Black Rock City. If you attempt to bring it to Burning Man you will be required to leave it at the Gate in an unsupervised lot, or bring it back home before you enter the event. Be aware that operating these vehicles at Burning Man can result in your vehicle being impounded, and your being fined by law enforcement and/or ejected from the event.

Mutant Vehicles not preregistered and with an invitation letter 
The only unlicensed Mutant Vehicles driving on the playa should be the ones en route to the DMV for inspection. It is possible that a Mutant Vehicle that has been invited to Black Rock City will not actually qualify for a license upon DMV inspection. In this instance, the Mutant Vehicle must remain parked at your camp for the duration of the event.

Wind-Powered Vehicles NOT Allowed in Black Rock City 
These vehicles may be brought to the Black Rock Airport and may be stored and operated there. These vehicles include:

  • Vehicles with a fixed mast
  • Vehicles in which the operator is sitting or reclining
  • Three-wheeled “land yachts”
  • Kite sailing vehicles (powered by a high-flying kite rather than attached to a mast)

3. Enforcement

Due to an increase in vehicles, population and dust, it is imperative that all participants adhere to these rules and guidelines. If you cannot follow these simple rules, your vehicle may be impounded, and you may be subject to a fine by law enforcement, or ejection from the event.

4. Policy Changes

As with any Burning Man policy, changes may occur. Any changes to BRC vehicle protocols will be communicated via appropriate methods, including the Jack Rabbit Speaks Newsletter, burningman.com, and the DMV announce list before the event, or BMIR, Playa Info, and posted notices at the DMV during the event.

Next Page: Vehicle Sound Policy