Getting In: The Gate

Q. What do I need to know about arriving at Burning Man? A. We’re glad you asked!

  1. Traffic has become a part of the Burning Man experience, and it is up to all of us to make it as stress-free as possible. Carpool or take the Burner Express! Fewer vehicles = less traffic = shorter wait times = better for the environment. Winning!
  2. Everyone in your vehicle must have a valid ticket for entry. All vehicles driving into BRC (except motorcycles) require a vehicle pass, which must be purchased in advance.
  3. Beginning Sunday, the day the event opens, we will begin broadcasting hourly traffic reports on BMIR 94.5 at the top of the hour. You can listen on your mobile device via iHeartRadio. We’re also providing real-time updates via Twitter. Follow @BManTraffic for the latest.
  4. On your way to Burning Man, please drive safely and be considerate while passing through local towns. Speeding, parking on highway shoulders, and unsafe passing are safety hazards and could threaten the future of the event. We are guests in their communities, so be extra courteous and obey the law.
  5. If traffic stops on 447 or 34, please stay in your vehicle and keep your headlights on at night. These are rural highways and it is hard for oncoming traffic to see you.
  6. Plan your arrival so that you show up at the Gate after opening. We cannot allow people who show up early to wait in town or on the sides of the highway.
  7. During peak traffic periods we will be controlling traffic with highway flaggers along Hwy 447 before the Gerlach and Empire gas stations. Past experience shows that long lines at local gas stations have caused unsafe conditions. Once the line reaches the edge of the gas stations, you will be instructed to continue driving. Please fill up before you get on Highway 447.
  8. As you approach the Burning Man entrance, tune your radio to 95.1 FM for the Gate Advisory Radio Station. We will be broadcasting up-to-date info about the entry process.
  9. Drive no more than 10 mph on Gate Road! Speeding causes ruts in the playa surface. And the dust you create makes it hard to see our volunteers in the lanes and for other drivers to see you.
  10. Stay with your vehicle on Gate Road. If you need to go to will call, your entire vehicle should go with you. Don’t risk losing your friends (yes, it happens).
  11. All inbound lanes have access to the Box Office. About 1/4 mile before you reach the Gate you will come to a set of small kiosks we call the ‘Apex.’ Gate staff here will direct you to the will call lot.
  12. Upon reaching the Gate your tickets will be torn and your car searched. If you pack accordingly (and yes, we will want to get to the back of your box truck and have you open that big container) it will make it easier on everyone, which means you get through faster. If you have a large vehicle or a lot of stuff, we appreciate it when you help us during the search. Plan ahead and know what items are prohibited. Please see HERE for items not allowed through the gate.
  13. If you don’t have a ticket, do not show up at the event. There is a closure order issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and you must have a valid ticket to be inside of it. If you are at the Gate without a ticket, you will be told to leave or risk citation from the BLM.
  14. Plan ahead. Read the JRS and Survival Guide, and know what you need for early arrivals. If you are a camp or project expecting deliveries, know that process far in advance.

Q. When is the best time to arrive to avoid those long entry lines? A. Wait times during the first 36 hours after opening can be five or more hours. If you arrive during the rush, expect a long wait and pack water and snacks for the ride. If the weather gets bad we may have to temporarily close the Gate.

We know you want to experience the dusty playa as soon as you can, but if you can arrive Tuesday or later, you will find your wait time to be much shorter. On all days but opening night, the shortest lines are usually in the early morning hours, generally from 3 a.m.-10 a.m.

Q. What credentials do I need to get through the Gate? A. Everyone needs a valid ticket to enter BRC. Every vehicle driving through the Gate, except motorcycles, must have a vehicle pass.

Arriving before the Gate opens requires a valid early arrival pass for every person in your vehicle.  If you are bringing a mutant vehicle, you must have a copy of the Department of Mutant Vehicles registration. Deliveries require the same credentials as participants; if you are part of a group receiving deliveries, speak to your Burning Man contact in advance.

Q. Can I show up early, before the Gate opens? A. No! Our permit stipulations issued by the BLM do not allow participants to arrive before the Gate opens, except for those who are involved in set up.

The pre-event period is when we are building the city, which means there are construction sites and heavy machinery that can be dangerous. Participants wandering the playa will delay the set up process. We do not yet have the resources to handle participants (medical, staffing, ice, etc.), and people showing up dearly taxes the resources we do have.

Q. Well, what if I decide to show up early anyway? A. Your entire vehicle will be turned away and sent back to Reno. We cannot allow participants to be left at the Gate without a vehicle if they do not have an early arrival pass – make sure every person in your vehicle has a valid pass.

When the Gate opens, we give priority to those who show up on time. This means if you show up early and we have to stage you somewhere, you will get in later than if you showed up on time.

Q. Can I drive out to Gerlach earlier in the day and just wait in town or along the road until the Gate opens? A. This is the worst thing you can do. Under no circumstances should you wait on the side of the road anywhere along Highway 447 or 34, or in Gerlach. This is a serious safety hazard and places our event at risk. The road shoulders need to be kept clear for emergency vehicles, and out of respect for the local residents please do not park in town.

Q. I hear that you sometimes open the Gate early without telling anyone. What’s up with that? A. The Gate opening time is set by our permit stipulations. In a perfect world where we could control all elements of the environment, traffic and human behavior, we would open the Gate at exactly the same time each year. But this is Burning Man. Sometimes things happen.

The Gate, Perimeter and Exodus Department of Burning Man has the responsibility and authority to manage ingress and egress of participants while also taking into account public and staff safety, real-time assessment of traffic flow on Highway 447 and Highway 34, and vehicle congestion in Gerlach. The reasons for an adjustment to the opening time are many and varied, and could result in either a delay or in us letting some vehicles in early. For the best chance at a smooth entry process, plan your arrival for after the Gate opens.

Q. What if I need to go to Will Call/Box Office? A. The following steps should help make your Box Office visit smoother:

  1. Upon arrival, do NOT proceed to the Gate to be searched if you do not have your tickets in hand for all people in your car.
  2. The exact location of Will Call changes depending on the placement of the city and design of Gate Road. But have no fear! We have set up the process such that you can access the Will Call lot from ANY lane on Gate Road.
  3. Go to Will Call/Box Office, get your tickets and return to your vehicle.
  4. Guide your vehicle back into the entry lines via the marked lane from the Will Call lot.
  5. Proceed to the Gate for vehicle search and entry into the City!

Q. Can I run and get my ticket at Will Call while the rest of my crew waits in line? A. Please don’t. We see people lose their vehicles all the time. There is a better chance than you would expect that it will happen to you too. And we don’t allow people to walk in the lanes. Take a few extra minutes to have your whole vehicle go into the Will Call lot. It beats standing in the dust for hours trying to find your ride.

Q. I keep hearing about a speed limit of 10 mph on Gate Road. Is that really true? A. Yes, it is. The faster you drive on Gate Road, the more dust your vehicle kicks up and the more your tires break up the hard packed playa, turn it into fine powder and create deep ruts in the road. Much of that dust ends up blowing into the city during high winds.

Gate staff are in the lanes 24 hours a day, breathing that dust. If you are going too fast, you are more likely to injure our crew. Please obey the 10 mph speed limit!

Q. Woo hoo, I made it to the playa! Can I start the party while I am waiting in line? A. Nope! If by party you mean break open a cold one, then “no” for sure. Gate Road is subject to driving laws like any other road. You can get cited by law enforcement for having an open container in your vehicle, even if the driver is not the one drinking. Every year people get pulled over and cited. Don’t let this happen to you.

Q. What if I am approved to enter early. What do I need? A. If you are arriving before Will Call opens (which is Monday the week before the event at noon) you MUST have a physical ticket in hand. If you show up without a ticket before Will Call opens, you will have to wait at the Gate until your manager or point of contact can deal with the situation. Sometimes this means overnight. No matter how much you beg us, we cannot let you in without a ticket.

You must print your early arrival pass before you arrive at the Gate – we cannot print it for you and we do not accept passes on your phone/computer.

If you are unsure whether you have the right credentials, talk to your Burning Man contact before you leave for the playa!

Q. Hey man, I totally cannot afford a ticket this year. But I plan to get to the Gate and see if I can manifest a miracle through generous gifts from the community. Is that cool? A. Please don’t. Please make your miracles happen before you get to the Gate. All too often people who end up at the Gate without money to buy tickets will end up trying to sneak in or will start to suffer from dehydration or worse. As much as we feel for your cause, you will not be allowed to sit at the Gate without a ticket. You will probably get mad at us for asking you to leave, but with a little bit of planning and radical self-reliance we can all get what we want.

Q. I know I don’t have the right paperwork, but it’s not very Burner of you to make me wait here for so long. I’ve been on the road for two days and I’m tired, can’t you just let me in? A. The Gate’s job is to make sure everyone who enters has valid credentials and does not possess any prohibited items. If you show up without these things, we can’t let you in no matter how much you beg.

We will attempt to help you sort out your issue and tell you what your options are. It may take a little time, especially when we are dealing with long lines and managing multiple issues simultaneously, including some that may impact the safety of our crew and other participants. Sometimes we don’t have the time to explain why; sometimes we just need you to follow our instructions at that moment. Remember, all the instructions you’ll get at the Gate are available far in advance on the Burning Man website.