Camp Resource Guide

This guide will support your efforts to organize amazing camps. Although some of this information is specific to theme camps and villages, most will also be relevant to camps of all types and sizes. If you prefer to watch rather than read, we’ve included relevant Theme Camp Symposium videos and additional resources. This info is maintained by the Camp Support Team

Before you dive in, note that there is no one way to camp at Burning Man. Each of the 1,500 Black Rock City camps has its own way of doing things! These resources and advice are here to support you on your journey.

Acculturation of Camp Members

Acculturation of Camp Members

Camps play a critical role in acculturating their members for Burning Man, including:

  1. acculturating newbies to Burning Man culture, Black Rock City, and to your camp
  2. acculturating returning Burners who are new to your camp or your camp’s culture
  3. sometimes re-acculturating veteran Burners and reminding them how Burning Man and your camp are different from the default world.

At the most basic level, acculturation is easier or more challenging depending on ratios. For example, if 5-10% of your camp are newbies or new Burners to your camp, it’s fairly easy for the camp leadership and other campmates to support their acculturation journey. If over 50% of your camp are newbies and/or Burners who are new to your camp, acculturation will be much more challenging. Newbie sponsorship by a veteran campmate to guide the newbie through acculturation both pre-Playa and on Playa ensures that the information is shared and the newbie is supported in the experience. (Here is a 2019 Theme Camp Symposium video: Acculturation Panel)

Burning Man Culture: How do we introduce those who are on playa for the first time to our city and community? The 10 Principles were created as guidance to help all of us navigate Black Rock City and Burning Man culture around the world. They are a great place to start when bringing new friends to Black Rock City, but it’s important to note the 10 Principles are intentionally descriptive instead of prescriptive. It’s up to each of us to interpret the 10 Principles, so the more you can encourage your campmates to genuinely think about, engage with, and apply them in their own way, the more helpful it will be than telling them how they “should” interpret them. 

Black Rock City Culture: Acculturating your campmates to the unique ways we are together in Black Rock City intersects with the 10 Principles. Introduce newbies to the Survival Guide, which includes tips for how to be a good citizen of BRC, dos and don’ts, and the community resources that they won’t find in the default world. As their camp, you have a huge opportunity to affect individual behavior through the education you do up front, the expectations you set around behavior, and how you respond when something happens that isn’t in line with our culture. Consider covering topics like how to take care of your well-being, Leave No Trace, consent (including consent to be photographed), logos and branding, porta-potty etiquette, encouraging participation, and how to be a good neighbor. 

Your Camp’s Culture: Every camp is unique! How are you different from other camps? What do newbies or Burners who are new to your camp need to know to align with your camp’s culture? What expectations do you have of each other when it comes to participation with visitors to your camp and also ensuring your camp will run smoothly? What happens if those expectations aren’t met? 

An Acculturation Checklist:

  • Burning Man culture 
    • Make sure your campers understand the 10 Principles.
    • Watch this video and look for others that explain the culture and ethos of Burning Man:

    • Discuss some of the more nuanced Principles that may be  more difficult for new people to “get” about Burning Man’s culture like Decommodification and how seriously we take Leave No Trace. Paint a picture of what the Principles look like in action and why they matter to you. 
  •  Black Rock City culture
    • Check that they’ve read the Survival Guide.
    • Encourage them to explore information about the event.
    • Establish how they can get support and who can help them when they are figuring out how to go to Black Rock City and/or be part of your camp for the first time.
  • Your camp’s culture 
    • Get clear on your own camp’s culture, how you operate together, and how you communicate with new campers.
    • Set clear and specific expectations with campers for participation before and during the event, and for strike.  
    • Make these expectations easily available via a written document. 

Additional Resources

Bikes

Bikes 

Black Rock City is a pedestrian-friendly environment that lends itself to walking and biking. Bikes are the most popular mode of transportation on the playa and that means there are a lot of them! Bikes are super useful but, on occasion, they become problematic.

  • Parking: Every camp should plan for bike parking. Even you’re a small camp with a few personal bikes, you’ll want a place to park and lock your bikes when you aren’t using them. 
  • Crowds: Camps that attract many visitors should provide adequate bike parking space to prevent a pile of metal and rubber from appearing out of nowhere. It’s super important to keep the city streets clear for pedestrians, water trucks and emergency vehicles, especially at night! Rangers will ask you to clear bikes if they are spilling out into the street. 
  • Repairs: As with any situation on the playa, you should be prepared to deal with common bike repairs. Be sure to pack multiple replacement tubes that fit any bike you bring with you. A small tool set that works with your bike will also come in handy. If you’re lucky, there’s a camp nearby who is gifting bike repair services, but you can’t count on that. 
  • E-Bikes, scooters and more: Make sure you’ve read the DMV’s rules on personal transport vehicles. If it’s not on their list, it’s not allowed in Black Rock City. Ensure your campers are aware of these rules so they don’t haul something they can’t use.
  • Decor: Personalize your ride. Let it represent you in all possible ways! Personalized decorations it will help you quickly find and identify your bike when you park it with hundreds of others. Here are more tips on personal bikes.

Camp Layout and Logistics

Camp Layout and Logistics

Living in the desert for a week or two takes some planning. Not only do you have to get all of your stuff there, but you need to know where it goes once you arrive. You should know roughly how much space you need, how best to arrange things, and how to light it up so nobody trips/rides over your stuff in the dark of night.

Layout Essentials

  • Think about how your camp is contributing to make the frontage of your street a cool place. What does it say when you look down a street and see a full street of vibrant and exciting structures and signage? What does it say when half the camps have cars parked right up on the street and you can’t see the next camp over past the cars? And how does that affect the overall feel of your city block.
  • In designing the layout of your frontage, you should be aware of not only how it affects your own camp, but also how it affects the vibe/culture/feel of your neighboring camps, city block, and sector.
  • All camps requesting placement are required to submit a camp layout with their questionnaire. Placement uses this to determine how much physical space you will need. 
  • If you camp in open camping or don’t receive placement, you should still create a layout so you know how much space you need once you get to the playa. Depending on your arrival time to open camping, you may not find all the space you need, but with your plan in hand, you’ll know how you can flex to fit the available space.
  • There are multiple tools for creating a camp plan/layout. Use something that you’re familiar with (perhaps it’s a pencil and graph paper or maybe it’s a software program). If submitting to Placement, it should be as clear and concise as possible. 

Sizing

  • Think about how much space you need for interactivity within your camp that will be open to the public. Then think about the infrastructure and residences and how much space that will need. The overall flow between the public and internal spaces for your camp will impact people’s experiences in your camp.

Ingress/egress

  • Think about the complete experience of someone visiting your camp, starting from when they see it from a distance and decide to check it out. How will visitors enter and exit your camp? How large or obvious is the opening to enter your camp? 
  • If your camp will have crowds, keep in mind the flow of people from and back to the street, as well as locations for bike parking. 
  • If there are parts of your camp that you’d prefer not to have visitors cutting though, think about how to signal that with your layout.

Your Sides and RV Walls

  • What do the sides of your camp say about you? Are they closed off? An unwelcoming line of RVs or cars? The Placement Team will follow up with you and ask you to change your layout if you submit a layout with RV walls with only an opening for your frontage. 
  • Can you get creative in how you lay out any RVs and vehicles in your camp? Think about what you’d appreciate as a participant if you were walking on the street by your camp. Walls of cars/RVs should be used to frame entrances and pathways. Careless placement can screen off aspects of your frontage that deserve to be highlighted, or can convey an imposing, unwelcoming, or boring feeling. Also be aware of how your car/RV walls are affecting your neighbors and overall vibe of the street or avenue.
  • Can you do anything visual or creative with the sides of your camp so they look and feel more appealing or interesting?

Emergency Access 

  • Emergency Services (ESD) and Rangers need to be able to get into your camp efficiently. If things are too tightly blocked together, this could be a problem at a time when someone needs immediate help. Make sure there are clear pathways throughout your layout.

Fire, Fire Lanes, and Fire Safety

Managing Parking (or, creative vehicle placement)

  • Oh, the ins and outs of vehicles. Who’s arriving first? Who’s arriving last? Who will leave first? Who will leave last? It’s helpful to have a list of arrival and departure dates for each vehicle. Consider if your layout is flexible enough to accommodate a group of cars arrives while you’re asleep or away and parks in an order or spot that wasn’t planned.
  • Parking of cars must happen within your camp’s layout — there is no parking lot in Black Rock City. Do not use open camping as a parking lot! Open camping is needed for folks who do not have the privilege of arriving early with Work Access Passes. Please ensure the space you request on your Camp Placement Questionnaire includes fitting all your vehicles inside your camp’s boundaries.
  • Don’t want those pesky vehicles in your camp? Encourage your campmates to carpool or use the Burner Express. The fewer cars at Burning Man, the better! 

Accessibility

Preparing for Extreme Weather

The Black Rock Desert is wild and unpredictable. High winds, rain, lightning, hail, extreme heat, and near freezing cold are all possibilities during the event. Your camp should have plans in place for all weather conditions.

  • Secure your structures. Bring more rebar, lag bolts, ratchet straps, rope, etc. Be aware of where the winds are coming from once you get on playa and secure your structure. Utilize large vehicles like box trucks to protect tents from prevailing.
  • Keep your camp organized and loose objects from flying away. If there’s a dust storm coming, and all your camp’s bikes are in one spot, you can more easily manage them rather than if they’re all over the place.
  • Prolonged rain means no driving on the playa. No driving on the playa means no porta potty or RV servicing. Make sure you have five-gallon buckets and extra garbage bags should you need to fashion an emergency toilet (which you will then seal and take with you when leaving the desert). Gross but true. You can even pack your five-gallon bucket as a weather emergency kit with some toilet paper!

Additional Resources

  • 2018 Theme Camp Symposium Video of Panel on “How to Get L.A.I.D. at Burning Man — Best Practices for Handling Logistics, Assets, Infrastructure, and Delegation” with Christopher of Swing City, Doug of Reverbia, Heather of Red Nose District, Jeremy of OKNOTOK, Marisa of Death Guild, and moderator Little Jack of Hushville.

Deliveries to Black Rock City

Deliveries to Black Rock City

Sometimes you make really big plans and will need to rely on Outside Services to deliver infrastructure into Black Rock City. Options available for arranging deliveries to the playa are explained on the Arranging Deliveries page.

Camp Finance

Camp Finance

Small camps (e.g, less than 10 members) may not have a shared budget. In a small camp, each member may simply bring whatever resources they have to share. However, most larger camps require members to pay dues, which might be as little as $50 per person, up to $500 per person or more. Examples of major expenses for a large camp include: purchase of shade structures, equipment rental, communal kitchen supplies, materials for art projects, storage costs, and the cost of producing high-quality swag.

Experience has shown that it is best to have a designated camp treasurer who collects the dues and manages the camp budget. It is the treasurer’s responsibility to collect dues from everyone before getting to the playa, and to maintain an up to date report on camp expenditures.

Fundraising and Burning Man's Intellectual Property

Fundraising and Burning Man’s Intellectual Property

What happens when your ideas grow so big you need to find additional capital to make that idea a reality? Fortunately our community likes to support big ideas, but how do you ask for donations without stepping into any weird legal issues or Decommodifcation quagmires? Read on to find out more about Burning Man’s IP (intellectual property) and how to decommodify your camp’s fundraising efforts. 

This summary includes:

  1. An overview of Burning Man’s IP and image-use policies and why we care!
  2. Gifting items with Burning Man’s IP or images from BRC
  3. Hosting a fundraising event
  4. Other tips for keeping your fundraising decommodified.

1. Burning Man’s Policies

  • IP and image-use policies are guided by the Ten Principles and aimed at protecting the event, our participants, and the core words and symbols of Burner culture from commercial exploitation.
  • The core trademarks that Burning Man protects are: the Burning Man symbol (logo), “Burning Man,” “Black Rock City,” and “Decompression.”
  • Burning Man protects the copyrights for the design of the Man, the design of the Black Rock City map, and the Ten Principles.
  • We also restrict the commercial use of Burning Man images to protect the event and the privacy of our participants, in service to Decommodification, Radical Self-Expression, Immediacy, Participation… Non-personal use of images taken at the event must be approved by Burning Man (typically the Communications team press@burningman.org).

2. Gifting Items With Burning Man’s IP or Images from BRC

The Burner community is encouraged to incorporate Burning Man IP or images into their BRC artwork and gifts according to these guidelines:

Totally OK: GIFTING

  • Theme camps, mutant vehicles and art installations are gifts to all of Black Rock City. Burning Man participants are welcome to GIFT items that incorporate Burning Man’s trademarks or copyrights as tokens of appreciation to people who support these playa-bound projects, including as “rewards” or “perks” in crowdfunding campaigns.
  • Example: Incorporating the Man symbol or “Burning Man 2018” into your camp or art project logo, and printing it on gifts for people who support your fundraiser OK!
  • If you’re going to use the Man symbol on a pledge gift, be radically self-expressive and create a custom variation that suits your project!

Not OK: SELLING

  • You can’t SELL items with Burning Man trademarks, copyrights, or images in any forum, including on peer-to-peer websites like eBay, Etsy, Cafe Press, etc. 
  • Example: Setting up an online shop for your camp with merchandise that incorporates the Man symbol, “Burning Man” or “Black Rock City” NOT OK!
  • If you create gifts that incorporate a Burning Man trademark, copyright or image and you have some left after the event, you can’t sell those leftovers. Likewise, please don’t fundraise for the costs of producing your gifts that’s like selling them for the amount of the donation.
  • Example: Setting up a crowdfunding campaign for the Man symbol jewelry you want to gift at Burning Man this year — NOT OK!

3. Hosting a Fundraising Event

  • If you’re having a fundraising event for your camp or other BRC-bound project, feel free to use “Burning Man” or “Black Rock City” in the event description. Just don’t use these names in ways that suggest the Burning Man organization is hosting or sponsoring your event. 
  • “Decompression” should not be used in connection with your fundraisers. This name is reserved for events produced by Burning Man or the Burning Man Regional Network. 
  • Examples: Saying your fundraiser is for your camp “at Burning Man” or your art project “in Black Rock City” OK!
  • Calling your event a “Burning Man Fundraiser” or “Decompression Party” NOT OK!

4. Other Tips for Keeping Your Fundraising Decommodified

Avoid commodifying the Burning Man experience:

  • Steer clear of offering “VIP” access in exchange for donations a private tour on your Mutant Vehicle, a private party at your camp, etc.
  • REMINDER: Burning Man tickets and vehicle passes can’t be used for fundraising purposes (including as crowdfunding rewards, in auctions, etc.)

Avoid commodifying camp space:

  • Pooling resources and sharing costs with your friends OK!
  • Selling space in your camp to raise money NOT OK!

You can read more on Burning Man’s approach to intellectual property, trademarks and copyrights here, as well as proper use of images and media rights here.

If you see any questionable uses of Burning Man’s IP or imagery, please let us know ip@burningman.org. We appreciate your help!

Additional Resources:

Generators and Power

Generators and Power

There is an entire page devoted to generators! Check out the Generators page for tips on using a genny in your camp. The most important aspect for camps to consider (beyond the power itself) is how your generator will impact your neighbors. Where are you placing the generator in the context of your camp? 

Rule of thumb for things that are unpleasant (generators, toilets, light towers, etc) — if your camp is going to enjoy the benefits, then your camp should also deal with the downsides of them (smell, noise, light, etc). Don’t place these things on your camp border so your neighbors have to deal with the downsides while you enjoy the conveniences. Try and put them as deep into your camp’s layout as possible. 

Additional Resources:

Interactivity and Frontage

Interactivity and Frontage

Theme camps and villages form the heart of Black Rock City. Big, small, loud, quiet, these are the places created to entertain, entice and inform the citizenry. Interactivity is a key component to a successful theme camp and its definition is, thankfully, broad. Frontage (or visual stimulation, or curb appeal) is also an important aspect of being a theme camp. 

Note: Interactivity and frontage are not criteria for other camp categories. This only applies to theme camps and villages requesting placement. While it may not be required for your camp category, it sure is lovely to provide interactive experiences for your neighbors regardless! And there are many theme camps in open camping who prefer not to be placed. 

  • Interactivity is defined in the Camp Placement Criteria for theme camps and villages. It’s the primary “thing” theme camps and villages do. It’s the reason why your camp hopefully receives placement in Black Rock City. You’re not placed because of your delicious camper meal plan or your badass power grid; you’re placed because of the interactivity, frontage and overall offering your camp provides to all citizens of Black Rock City.

Designing your camp’s interactivity

  • Ask yourself and your campmates — How do we want to participate in Black Rock City? What gifts do we have for the community (both literal gifts and gifts like your skills, abilities, talents, etc)? What experiences do we want people to have when they come to our camp and interact with us? What can our camp community do in Black Rock City that we may not be able to do in the default world?

Make a plan, stick to it

  • On your placement questionnaire, you’ll describe your plans for interactivity. As the event gets closer, it’s time to get more specific. What exactly will your camp be doing? Who will be doing what? When will it be happening? What materials or preparations do you need in order for it to happen? How are you ensuring it will actually happen?

Frontage — create visually stimulating, open and inviting spaces

  • Frontage is a component of the Placement Team’s Theme Camp Criteria. You should have a plan for what your camp looks like from the outside. 
  • When someone is walking or biking down the street, what will they see? How will people know you’re a theme camp? What about your camp would compel them to get off their bike and come participate? What type of visual experience do you want to create? How does it connect to your interactivity? These are just some of the questions you can ask when planning your frontage.

Night Lighting

  • If your camp wants placement on the Esplanade, Portal, Plaza, or Avenue, your camp needs a plan for night lighting. How can you bring lighting into your frontage plans? What will it look and feel like to those walking down the street at night past your camp? If your camp’s interactivity is primarily after dark, then night lighting should be even more important. Also, consider going solar!

Clarify your camp’s “public” space and “private” space

  • We put those in quotes because technically all of Black Rock City is public! Make sure your public space feels public, open and inviting. People shouldn’t have to seriously question whether they’re “allowed” into a public space. 
  • Clearly define your public space from your ‘back of house’ space, but do not make barriers or signs like, Private Campers Only, for your private space. Create a welcoming space for your visitors, and create a safe space for your campmates.  
  • Plan your camp layout based on the proportions needed for camp interactivity, frontage, and your back of house or living areas.

But I’m not a registered theme camp! Or… I didn’t get placement!

  • Yes! There are many theme camps that prefer to be in open camping and don’t want to deal with the placement process.
  • Interactivity and frontage are components any camp can do whether your camp is placed or not, and no matter what your camp’s category is!

Additional Resources:

Kitchens and Food Safety

Kitchens and Food Safety

Nobody wants to get sick out there and nobody wants to make others sick. To prevent foodborne illness on the playa, the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health (NDPBH) has requirements for camps serving food or beverages, including the need for a health permit. You must apply to the NDPBH and be permitted as a Temporary Food Establishment if:

  • you wish to share, cook, or serve food or non-alcoholic beverages to the general Burning Man population (gifting food), regardless of # served.
  • you will be cooking or serving food to more than 125 fellow campers in your camp.

You can find information about this year’s application and deadlines on the NDPBH website here

If you have a communal kitchen shared by 125 or more campers but meals are prepared individually or in smaller quantities than for 125 persons, a permit is not required. However, we highly recommend you research and review “Burning Man Food Safety Requirements” and the “Burning Man Checklist” found on the NDPBH website’s information page. 

There are many ways to structure a kitchen. Some camps have communal meal plans (some do one meal, two meals, or three meals per day), some camps share groceries but individuals make their own food, and some camps do not collaborate on food. The amount of infrastructure and equipment you’ll need for your kitchen depends on the size of your camp and how extensive or simple your food plans are.

Additional Resources:

Leadership

Leadership

Managing a camp comes with all of the fun and challenges that accompany any project that brings people, infrastructure and creative spirit together. For a bit of inspiration, watch this video of fellow camp leaders at the 2018 Theme Camp Symposium explaining why they do everything they do for their camps.

Communication

  • Leaders communicate expectations, needs, challenges, ideas, plans, requests, opportunities, decisions, and much more. What does the communication loop between your camp’s leadership and the rest of your camp look like? 
  • Many camps have in-person or virtual meetings throughout the year to discuss ideas, make decisions and build community. Find the frequency and method that works best for your camp. 

Managing people

  • Friends
    • There are many different approaches for leading groups of friends. Openly communicating, staying honest and speaking up as early as possible when something isn’t working is probably the best advice. If you wait too long and frustration builds, your camp stuff can taint your friendship.
  • Friends of friends

    • If managing friends is challenging, managing the friends they want to bring with them can be even more so. There’s a common theme when dealing with people, friends or otherwise. Open and honest communication is key.

  • New friends

    • Sometimes you bring in total strangers to your camp. There are various reasons to do so and none of them change how you might lead them. As a general rule, the more communication with new camp members before getting to the playa, the better.

Appreciating campers

  • Feedback is important and it is sometimes easy to forget that positive feedback is a powerful force. It can be easy to focus on the things that are going wrong especially in the midst of camp build or teardown. Remind the people around you that you appreciate them and that their contributions are important. A little praise goes a looooong way. And we hope they’ll appreciate you too!

Cultivating new leaders

  • At some point, for some reason you may not be able to fulfill a leadership role in your camp. Life happens, burn-out happens and if your camp wants to continue, it’s important that you think about who might take over for you should you step aside. Share responsibility so you can identify who is willing and able to be that new leader.

Empowerment

  • Does someone have a great idea? Rather than the established leaders taking it on, why don’t they go make it happen! Even if they don’t have the skills, experience, or track record, what better place than Burning Man for someone to take on a project they’re excited about and figure out how to do it? Provide support and mentorship as needed, but let them run with it.

Burn-out

  • Organizing and managing a Burning Man theme camp or village is hard. There comes a point where everyone needs a break, and that’s OK. To avoid burn-out, spread as much of the responsibility around as possible. By spreading the load, you can hang in there a lot longer.

Support networks

Leaving No Trace

Leaving No Trace

Our event could not exist without vigilant participants packing out their equipment, recyclables, trash and everything else they brought with them.

There’s a ton of information on our Leaving No Trace page that will help you manage your LNT efforts! Note that your camp’s LNT history will be heavily weighted when evaluating future applications for placement.

Additional Resources

Neighbors

Neighbors

Most of the time, we find our neighbors in Black Rock City to be wonderful, supportive, funny and welcoming, but every so often there’s a little friction between camps. Ninety-nine percent of the time, issues are resolved with open and respectful communication.

Introduce yourself and your camp

  • Be proactive. When you first arrive, say hello to your neighbors! Introduce yourselves and your camp. Let them know who to come to if they have a problem. When your neighbors arrive from their long journey, greet them, offer them water and introduce yourselves. Welcome them to the neighborhood! 
  • When an issue arises with your neighbor, it’s easy to get frustrated and build them up in your mind into a Burning Man villain before you even walk over to talk (or yell) about it. Do your best to calmly discuss any issues with your neighbor when those issues come up. Assume your neighbors have positive intent. 

Tips for resolving issues on your own

  • There are neighborly ways to address problems. First, it helps to know or ask who in the camp to talk to versus talking to (or yelling at) the first person you see. Do you like to be told what to do in a yelling tone by someone you just met? Most people don’t. Discuss how to solve the problem together versus telling them what they should do [email protected]*%ing-now. Make sure you’ve both had enough water. Sit down together. Take the high road against drama.
  • If you’re in over your head, you can request assistance from the Black Rock Rangers. If you have a neighbor that consistently isn’t collaborating to solve problems, make sure your Placer is also aware of the situation.

Not everyone wants to sleep when you do

  • Remember, Burning Man is loud. There are no quiet hours or official quiet areas in Black Rock City. Be radically self-reliant and make sure your campers are prepared with earplugs, battery-powered white noise machines, whatever they need to sleep. Help acculturate your new campers to this landscape. Familiarize yourself with the sound policy so you know what’s Ok-loud versus not-Ok loud.

Get to know your neighborhood before you get to the playa

Neighborliness issues

  • The most common issues among neighboring camps are sound and generator noise. Guess what, those are both preventable! See the previous section on Generators and Camp Layouts for how to best plan your generator’s placement. Set expectations with your campers who may touch those volume dials and review the Black Rock City Sound Policy.

Online Communities Directory

Online Communities Directory

We know that before the Man goes up in flames you’re already thinking about plans for next year, and fortunately you’re not alone. There are various resources that are active all year long where you can discuss your next big idea or give help to those who are just figuring this theme camp thing out.

Safety

Safety

Here’s a roundup of key safety information:

Videos

Shade and Other Structures

Shade and Other Structures

There’s a lot to consider to make sure the structure you’re building on playa is safe. Read, Building Safe Structures, to make sure you’ve covered all your bases.

Large structures need to be secured properly. All designs are strongly advised to include safety provisions. For more on this, please check out Securing your Structure.

If you would like to discuss your structural plans, please email us at structures@burningman.org.

Additional Resources:

Size

Size

Every year Black Rock City is rebuilt and with that comes many changes. Camps grow, camps shrink, camps sleep, camps wake up. Know what to expect so your camp can navigate inevitable changes in population or enthusiasm.

  • Growth: Sometimes bigger is not better. As a camp lead, it’s super important that you understand your willingness and ability to manage an ever-growing population of campers. It can be challenging when your camp starts as a group of friends, and then the next year everyone wants to invite another friend, and then the year after that they all want to invite their friends, and all of a sudden your camp has doubled or tripled in size. Slow growth is typically the most successful strategy and it helps to have some intention around the maximum size for your camp. 
  • Size thresholds: There are many theories regarding group sizes and the thresholds at which dynamics and complexity changes substantially. If you’re interested, we’d suggest looking up some of the research. One number that’s cited often by camp leaders is Dunbar’s Number, a theory that humans can only comfortably hold up to 150 relationships. There are thresholds at smaller group sizes as well. 
  • Limiting size: The best time to discuss limiting the size of your camp is during the event. Ask the question, is our camp the right size, or should we grow? If the answer to that question is, “we are the right size now”, then start the conversation about how to restrict camp membership next year.
  • Downsizing: Despite our best efforts, life happens in between Burns and your once thriving and robust camp may find itself with campers who are not able to make the trip to the desert. Don’t panic! You can do this. It’s totally acceptable to scale back your interactivity offerings should you find yourself with fewer people to make it happen. Keep the potential of future downsizing or size fluctuations in mind as your camp is growing. Sometimes a temporary solution to accommodate more people for one year makes more sense than permanent infrastructure that you find you don’t need next year.
  • Take a year off: After 15 years of serving grilled carrots and candy bar smoothies you deserve a break! Sometimes a camp just needs to take a breather. If you’re a placed theme camp, you will find Placement happy to work with you and hold your camp in good standing during your break. You have to let Placement know by their deadline each year, which is typically in January (announced in the Placement Newsletter).

Sound

Sound

Sound Policy

  1. Neighbors should talk to one another when sound becomes problem and try to resolve the issue through direct communication.
  2. Large-scale sound installations MUST be located along the ends of our city. They may express themselves unless community complaints persist.
  3. Within the city, a maximum power amplification of 300 watts is permitted, producing sound amplification not to exceed 90 decibels, when measured at 20 feet from the source.
  4. Any complaints about excessive sound will become the concern of the Black Rock Rangers. Concerns about excessive sound may result in:
    A) volume check and mediation between camps
    B) volume check and a final warning on complaints
    C) the disabling of equipment

Sound Recommendations

We also wanted to share the below fantastic sound recommendations from Noah Reson-Brown from the Theme Camp Cult of the Magic Lady. (We’ve shortened it slightly for this format, the original post online is here.)

Hey amplified sound camps with a DJ! Wanna avoid noise complaints? It’s doable… but there’s a method to the madness.

  1. First and foremost, DJs should never control their own volume. They can’t hear the sound hitting the audience because they’re not in the audience! Your volume control (usually on a sound board) should be handled by someone in a position out in the audience.
  2. You know that 90db at 20 feet limit? That’s too liberal of a limit. 85db is already causing hearing loss. A good sound system REALLY doesn’t have to be that loud to be good. Proper speaker position can make that work.
  3. But the DJ wants it loud! That’s fine… aim a monitor speaker (which just plays back what he’s playing) directly at his head from close range. Preferably two, one from each side. Now he gets to hear his sound nice and loud.
  4. You can also place the speakers behind the DJ, so the DJ hears everything and gets deafened by his own noise. There’s a reason you see those big speaker walls behind some concert shows… it’s to make sure the musicians get to deafen themselves as much as they want. If the speakers are in front of the DJ, they don’t hear it nearly as well.
  5. Speakers (other than the subs) should be elevated above head height. Low speakers will bounce sound along the playa, scattering it to your neighbors… plus much of the noise is dampened by the bodies of the dancers before it hits ears. If your speakers are higher and aimed down, you can aim the sound at the center of your dance floor/party space and use much lower volume to get the same effect on the floor, while heavily reducing sound outside your dance floor. When aiming sound, remember that speakers generally spread about 60 degrees horizontally and 40 degrees vertically in their peak sound area. For most purposes, you want the speakers at just above head height, generally on standard tripods. Bigger camps will want to go higher. None of this applies to subs, whose noise is so low it doesn’t matter. Low pitch sounds scatter heavily, and aren’t dampened much by people. Plus those things are heavy. Leave ’em on the ground.
  6. Elevated speakers must be well secured. Speakers falling on people sucks. Please don’t moop the blood of your attendees. It’s rude. This is especially true if you stack your main speakers on your subs for height… strap that shit down. Subs vibrate, which can dance a speaker right off, even without wind.
  7. Aim the speakers through your own camp, not straight out into the playa (or at neighbors) where possible [Placement Note: EXCEPT if you’re an LSSA Camp with frontage on 10:00 or 2:00 avenues]. The nearest sleeping area to the front of your speakers should be your own sleeping area. If you can’t sleep, that should tell you something. This is especially important for those “running all-night ambient sound” camps with a pair of speakers on stands.
  8. You can put solid padded material (such as plywood with egg crate foam on it) in position to bounce and dampen sound waves away from areas you don’t want it to go. Your neighbors will love this.
  9. If the music’s playing, someone in camp who can operate the sound system should be there at all times. That person should be easily accessible for your neighbors/rangers who get called in because your neighbors are going insane. Be nice to your neighbors!
  10. If you can, two sets of speakers, one set further out than the other, beats the heck out of one speaker set that’s just really loud. If you do this, you’ll need a delay system or your music will be impossible to understand (especially anything vocal).

Remember, you too can avoid noise complaints!

Theme Camp Symposium

Theme Camp Symposium

Once a year, camp leaders get together to support each other and share ideas, challenges and tactics for putting together the best possible camps. 

History

  • The Theme Camp Forum began in 2012 and became the Theme Camp Symposium in 2016. In 2017 the Theme Camp Symposium began inviting Mutant Vehicle Camps and Art Support Camps to the Symposium because in the end, camps are camps are camps! The Theme Camp Symposium has historically taken place in March.

Agendas/Sessions from past TCSs

Info for Upcoming TCS

  • We will post here when available for 2020!

Villages

Villages

Coming together as a village creates a whole new and beautiful dynamic.

  • Planning: A village is more than a collection of camps. The goal is to create something greater than separate camps can create on their own. When planning your village, think about how camps can complement each other and enhance the experience of those visiting your village.
  • Sharing resources: One of the advantages to village life is the opportunity to share resources with other camps. While it may be impractical to share everything, any resources that can be pooled will make planning and logistics far more efficient.
  • Emergency access roads: Large villages (and large theme camps) are required to provide an emergency access road in the event fire or rescue personnel need to get to the interior of your village. This access road should be at least 16’ (4.8m) wide. For specific requirements, take a look at the “Important Camp Safety Features” section of the Camp Layouts page.
  • Village frontage (about those RVs…): The frontage of your village should be the most clearly welcoming area. Frontage, of course, is not limited to the “front” of your village. Should your village be large enough to face multiple streets/avenues, it is encouraged to provide interactivity on all sides. This could be anything from a small piece of art or a full on hosted experience. Some of the best things that happen at Burning Man are those random interactions you have while wandering through the city. If you have a number of campers with RVs in your village, try to place them along your fire access road or at the very least parked perpendicular to the road they are facing. A wall of RVs is impersonal, uninviting and really uninteresting. 
  • Communication within the village: As village mayor, it is super imperative that you keep information flowing to the camps within your village. Use all of the tools at your disposal to organize and disseminate important dates, deadlines and plans. Shared calendars, spreadsheets, group chats, or whatever works for you and your other camp leads are good places to start. No one wants surprises as they arrive in the desert.
  • Communication with Placement: Just as communicating between camps within the village is important, keeping Placement updated with your plans is a must. Placement will only talk to one point of contact — the Village Mayor who filled out the Village questionnaire. Plans change quickly and frequently as we all know, and keeping Placement updated on any major changes in size, interactivity or desired placement location will ensure a smooth arrival and setup on Playa.

Drones

(Photo by Mike Muench)

(Photo by Mike Muench)

In response to the growing popularity of remote controlled aircraft, helicopters and multi-copters (aka UAV or drones), Burning Man has established regulations under the Black Rock City Safety Team, and updated its guidelines for registering, and the terms and conditions for flying RC aircraft in Black Rock City.

Like mutant vehicles, BRC regulates all RC aircraft and requires that they be operated responsibly, and are subject to restricted fly zones and other rules of operation. The goal is to streamline the registration process, have all RC pilots be familiar with flying in the city, and make it safer for all Burning Man participants.

The FAA requires all pilots of RC aircraft flying within 5 miles of an airport to notify that airport of their operations. Virtually all of Black Rock City is within 5 miles of 88NV, Black Rock City Municipal Airport, and completing the on-line registration and on-playa briefing meets this requirement.

2019 Drone Information:

  1. For the 2019 event registration has closed and all persons selected to fly at this years event have been notified. Please check back on May 15, 2020 to register for Burning Man 2020. 
  2. Please familiarize yourself with the policies for 2019. See Below.
  3. RC pilots must receive an on-playa briefing, and operators will be required to wear designated safety vests while operating their aircraft. Registration and briefings will take place from 12:00 AM – 4:00 PM, through Wednesday of the event at Media Mecca.
  4. RC pilots are financially responsible for any harm or damage caused during the event.
  5. Drones are included in the BLM Closure Order, and only those permitted to operate during the event will be allowed to fly. RC equipment will be confiscated for unsafe flying or violation of BRC regulations, AMA, and FAA rules.
  6. Confiscated RC equipment will be held until the end of the event or when the participant departs Black Rock City. Confiscated RC equipment with video footage will not be released back to the participant at the end of the event.
  7. When possible, use a spotter to control onlookers.
  8. No First Person View (FPV) flying.
  9. Flying limited to a maximum altitude of 400 ft.
  10. Flying over crowds is prohibited. Maintain at least 25 ft. horizontal separation from people.
  11. Flying near emergency, police and fire personnel is prohibited.
  12. No flying near the Man beginning Friday night and continuing through the Man Burn, and no flying during the Temple burn.
  13. Flying is prohibited in the City, Center Camp, along the Esplanade, near the airport, and near the BLM Incident Command area.

For general questions, email gabe.kearney@burningman.org.

Please do not email asking for a permit to fly at Burning Man 2019.

Burning Man’s 2019 Drone Policy

Participation Videos

Welcome to the Participate Video Channel. Watch, Enjoy and Know: this channel is a work in progress. To see other video channels that have been created, visit our YouTube channel.

LOVE Project

Videos about the vast variety of ways to volunteer at Burning Man


 

DPW Playa Restoration – The Great MOOP March


 

On Boobs and Bacon


 

Burners Without Borders: Music Box


 
See All Videos

First-Time Volunteers

If this will be your first Burn and you are considering volunteering at Burning Man, you’re in the right place! The Burner community considers volunteering as a gift to the community and an opportunity for civic participation. This is one of the qualities that makes Burning Man the unique experience that is so close to our hearts.

Things to Know

    • Unlike many other events, volunteering at Burning Man does not automatically equal a ticket. If it does occur, it usually applies to volunteers who work within the organization year-round and are highly accountable. These are not roles that are easy to jump into.
    • So, as a rule of thumb, you should always use your own methods to obtain your ticket, and not expect to receive it from the team for which you volunteer.
    • If you are interested in volunteering for a team managed by Burning Man, choose no more than two teams on your volunteer questionnaire. The questionnaire is in your Burner Profile, and info about teams can be found on this page.
  • The only way to get subscribed to Burning Man’s volunteer announce list is by filling out a volunteer questionnaire.
  • Burning Man is built and experienced based on the strength of its community. To tap into the community for info and to share resources, keep an eye on ePlaya.
  • Burning Man, among many things, is also an exercise in self reliance. It’s important to take the time to read the First Timer’s Guide and Preparation sections of the website.

How to Volunteer for a Burning Man Team

Fill out a volunteer questionnaire and check your desired team(s) on the form.

If you don’t hear back from the team in a couple weeks, send them an email (you can find the team’s contact info in the Volunteer Teams section).

The following teams recruit new volunteers every year. However, please note, many of these teams are done with recruitment as early as May:

  • Airport
  • Air Playa Info (Reno Airport)
  • Artery (limited opportunities)
  • Arctica
  • Center Camp Cafe
  • Cleanup/Leave No Trace
  • DPW (only for cleanup after the event)
  • DMV
  • Earth Guardians
  • Greeters
  • Lamplighters
  • Media Mecca
  • Playa Info
  • Pottie Project
  • Recycle Camp
  • SF Office Volunteers (SF Bay Area residents only)
  • Community Events (year-round, SF Bay Area)
  • Tech Team (mainly year-round and not during the event)
  • Temple Guardians
  • Volunteer Resource Team (mostly but not limited to SF Bay Area residents)

These teams do not recruit first year burners:

  • Artery
  • Box Office
  • BMIR, unless highly skilled and come highly recommended
  • ESD, unless experienced in a specific needed area and come with awesome recommendation from a long time ESD team member
  • Gate, Perimeter, and Exodus
  • Rangers

Volunteering Pre-and Post-Event

Access to the playa during setup and cleanup time is strictly limited to the setup and cleanup crew. Every team, theme camp or art project has its own setup and cleanup team. To find out more, contact the team, theme camp, or art project directly.

Volunteering for a Burning Man Project

Fill out a volunteer questionnaire.

Browse the projects (art installations, theme camps, mutant vehicles, or whatever) seeking help on Spark and/or create a listing advertising your skills.

You can also do the same on the ePlaya.

Volunteering in Your Region

To volunteer in your own region, fill out a volunteer questionnaire and contact your local regional group.

Volunteering on Playa

During the event, you can always stop by the V-Spot in the Portals of Center Camp and the 3:00 and 9:00 Civic plazas to find out about volunteer opportunities whenever you’re in the mood! No need to sign up before the event, but, if you do volunteer, remember to fill out a volunteer questionnaire after the event.

Fire Art Guidelines

Fire Balls (Photo by C. J. Evans)

Fire art is part of the essential fabric of Black Rock City, and to keep creating fire art, we need to do so safely. Whether you’re incorporating fire into your art installation, theme camp, Mutant Vehicle or performance, it’s essential that you don’t harm others or the playa. This section contains important information about creating fire art safely and exhibiting it on-playa.

Thank you for taking the time to read this information thoroughly, and for wanting to create fire art for Burning Man. Now… let’s burn some stuff!

Getting There and Back

While it’s been said “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey,” at Burning Man, we think it’s a little of both.

Here’s info about all the different ways to get to Black Rock City, the home of Burning Man, as well as important information about traffic to and from the event, helpful resources in nearby towns, and entertaining attractions along the way.

Avoid the Traffic!

As we have 60,000+ participants traveling to and from Black Rock City along a two-lane rural highway every year, traffic (and avoiding it) can be a significant part of the Burning Man experience. Learn how to beat the traffic to and from Black Rock City.

Driving to Black Rock City

From the East (starting in New York City)

Driving to Burning Man from across the country…

If you’re crossing the United States to Burning Man, you’re likely traveling on Interstate 80 or Highway 50 when you hit Nevada, the seventh largest state and home to Burning Man. If you’re traveling from due east, you’ll be traveling on I-80; from the southeast, on Hwy 50. On either road it’s approximately 450 miles from the Utah border to BRC.

Indeed, one of the best ways to experience Nevada is driving across the state along either road. Known alternately as “Big Sky Country” or “The Great Basin”, you’ve never seen so many different mountain ranges, each separated by immense valleys, along a very, very long straight road dotted all so rarely by small towns and occasional ruins.

One could say every journey to BRC is filled with excitement, apprehensiveness, and attractions. But driving across Nevada can prepare you for the best burn ever.

Why?

You can get a hint of what it was like for every traveler coming from the east searching for a new home and making the Wild West. It seems you could stop just about anywhere with so much land, and stop for good — but the vast majority of people just can’t survive, let alone thrive, for long. The elements and temperature are extreme, the land relatively barren, and resources for the average person are non-existent between each town. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is not a bad metaphor here. The strength gathered simply from driving this long and lonely stretch can make for a better week on the playa at Burning Man. Just be prepared before setting off, making sure you have enough gas and supplies and your vehicle is 100%.

And take it easy.

With very minimal emblems of living civilization in this apparently vast desert void, on a certain level it’s simply easier to not be distracted and burdened with externals. If you don’t stop and just wander off on foot into the desert where no person has stepped before (or at least for a very long time), your mind can simply wander in awe with the vastness. You may find your self more easily, and you may come to better cope if anything has been bothering you. You may also catch glimpses of forever, and may be struck by the raw, stark beauty of the “high desert” you’ve never ever imagined anywhere. On the other hand, you’ll need to be rested and keep your attention along either the long road of I-80 or Hwy 50. If you are tired or not centered, you should probably pull over and take a rest — there are plenty of places to stop. You will remain alive and alert as a result. Indeed, accomplishing this last leg of the journey, across Nevada, may very well make you more alive than ever for life in BRC.

Directions to BRC

Whether you’re traveling along I-80 or Hwy 50, you will want to head to Fernley. Once in Fernley, take Exit #46. You can get gas here. Head north on Hwy 445 for one mile. you’re now in Wadsworth of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. Turn right on Hwy 447 and head north. 76 miles to Gerlach, and then another 10 miles north on State Route 34 to Burning Man.

Resources

There are also places to get gas and supplies along either I-80 or Hwy 50. Indeed, in order to save on gas and weight on your vehicle, many burners have figured out it may be best to get most if not all of your essential supplies in the few remaining towns nearer to BRC.

Along I-80, Lovelock has plenty of gas, lodging and other supplies options. Or, if you’re coming up on Hwy 50, you can stop in Fallon. And along either road, you can also stop in Fernley before heading north for the final 100 mile stretch to BRC. Also, all three of these towns are still struggling after the Great Recession of 2008-2012, so they sure do value your support. Just please remember that these are relatively conservative communities, and you should conduct yourself appropriately, respecting properties, local laws and customs, and driving the speed limit and being fully clothed.

Finally, as always: On the exodus from BRC, please remember to LEAVE NO TRACE. There are ample trash and recycling locations to be found after leaving BRC. Do not deposit your waste at rest areas, behind convenience stores, or at a home – the future of Burning Man depends on it!

From the Pacific Northwest
by wally@gwally.com

How to get to Burning Man from British Columbia, Oregon, Washington, even Northern California!

Welcome to the northern route directions! If you are going to Burning Man and live in Oregon, Washington or British Columbia, these directions offer the best route and tips for driving from your home to Black Rock City. These directions will take you from Eugene, OR to Black Rock City, NV.

While we would love to offer custom directions to get you from your doorstep to Black Rock City, the person that writes the directions (ME!) is too stinking lazy. So instead of investing in a custom-designed mapping engine, we have invested in a six-pack of root beer and laid out the directions as best as we could remember. Then we augmented our research by scanning the Yellow Pages and bothering friends for more information. The end result is a treasure trove of misinformation neatly organized and constantly updated. It also offers a newer, faster route that takes people past a really neat hot spring. Why aren’t we telling you about that one? Face it, we are trying to guarantee we have a camping spot.

We would be darned surprised if you didn’t have better things to do than to read through the information on the arf site, so we have summarized the more useful information right here for easy access.

***

Although the directions make perfect sense to me, perhaps we should explain how they are laid out. Each segment is broken down as travel between destination spots and the approximate mileage between the landmarks along the way. This is to give better details on your progress and to give the navigator who was appointed to the job simply because he yelled, “shotgun” something to do besides sticking their hand out the window and waving it up and down in the wind. Just be happy they are not yelling obnoxious comments like, “MOO!” to any cows you pass. Feel free to print out several copies and take them with you. That way, you have more copies to lose.

Oh, by the way, before we start, can we suggest that you place your tickets for Burning Man in an envelope, then securely tape your tickets to the inside of your glove box? This lessens the chance that you will leave them in a truck stop bathroom or on the kitchen counter at home.

We break out the journey from each point in mileage and the approximate time it should take to legally drive from point A to point B. Your actual time may vary depending on your lead foot or your lead ass. For instance, we list that our starting point Eugene, Oregon is 168 miles from Klamath Falls, Oregon. We estimate it will take you 4 hours of normal driving time. This assumes you didn’t get stuck behind a herd of semi trucks crawling from Oakridge to the top of the pass at 10 mph. We also break out the distance between certain landmarks and add in interesting points along the way. Actually calling some of these places towns may be giving them a little more justice than they deserve. Some have nothing more than a post office and a few abandoned stores. The only place we can safely say has services such as gas stations and stores are the towns that we identify. Otherwise, you may see an open gas station on the road or you may not.

The Starting Point

Our starting point is Eugene, Oregon. If you are coming from Seattle, it should take you 5 hours. If coming from Vancouver, BC, it should take 9 hours, minus border hassles. If you are coming from Spokane, WA or Bend, OR, pick up the route where you feel it works for you. Are you ready? Here we go!

Eugene to Klamath Falls, Oregon
Distance: 168 mi.
Driving time: 4 hours

From Eugene you will pass through the Willamette National Forest with breathtaking views and wonderful Douglas Firs. This is the last time on the journey you will see trees like this. From here on out the land becomes more arid as you go.

Just south of Eugene, take exit #188A to OR-58 (Willamette HWY) towards Oakridge/Klamath Falls. Keep going left at the fork in the ramp.
Take OR-58 to US-97 (86 mi total).
You will pass through Goshen (6.6 mi).
You will pass through Pleasant Hill (4 mi).
You will pass through Trent (4 mi).
You will pass through Minnow (7.2 mi).
You will pass through Crale (5.7 mi).
You will pass through Hampton (4 mi).
You will pass through Willamette City (9.5 mi).
You will pass through Oakridge (1.4 mi).
Note: This is the last town of any size until Klamath Falls.
Note: Kitson Hot Springs is 4.6 mi away down Kitson Springs Rd.
You will pass through McCredie Springs (10 mi – 18 min).
You will cross the Willamette Pass (5,128 ft).
You will pass Crescent Lake.
You will pass through Crescent Lake Junction (24 mi – 42 min).
You will reach US-97. Turn slightly right and head south for Klamath Falls (16.7 mi).
Note: If you need gas or food, La Pine is 28 mi north on US-97.
Take US-97 to Klamath Falls (78 mi total).
You will pass through Chemult (11 mi).
You will pass thorough Beaver Marsh (18 mi).
You will pass by Modoc Point (50 mi).
At Modoc, you will follow the shoes of Upper Klamath Lake into Klamath Falls (20 mi).
You will pass through Algoma (21 mi).
Welcome to Klamath Falls.

***

Klamath Falls to Alturas, CA
Distance: 100 mi.
Driving time: 2.5 hours

You have to weave through Klamath Falls before you head off to Merrill, then on to California. It is approximately 24 mi to the border. The entire town closes down at 11:00 PM. There is not a single grocery store open until 7:00 AM. The only thing open late is a Denny’s located next to the Safeway.

Stay straight to go onto KIT CARSON WAY. (2 mi).
Stay straight to go onto OR-39 (5 mi).
Turn SLIGHT LEFT onto KLAMATH FALLS LAKEVIEW HWY (0.2 mi).
KLAMATH FALLS LAKEVIEW HWY becomes OR-39.
You will pass through Merrill, OR (12 mi – 30 min).
In California, OR-39 becomes CA-139. Head south to CA-299 (56 mi total).
You will pass through Tule Lake (8 mi – 15 min).
You will pass through Newell (7 mi – 14 min).
You will pass by Copic (2 mi).
You pass through a California Agricultural Station (think of it as a border crossing). You will be asked pointed questions about certain fruits and vegetables you might be carrying (12 mi).
You will pass by Perez (2.6 mi).
You will pass through Ambrose (20 mi).
Continue to the intersection of CA-139 and CA-299 (8 mi).
Take a left at CA-299 and head East to Alturas, CA (19 mi).
Just past the interchange, you will pass through Canby (1 mi).
Welcome to Alturas, CA.

***

Alturas, CA to Cedarville, CA
Distance: 23 mi.
Driving time: 32 minutes

After leaving Alturas, there is nothing in the way of services until Cedarville. The Cedarville Pass is 6,305 ft and from the top of the pass to Cedarville is very steep and windy road. If you ride your brakes, they can easily overheat and catch fire. Also, beware of cows that congregate on the roadway halfway down. No, I am not kidding.

CA-299 becomes US-395 outside of Alturas. I think right at Main Street.
Continue past the California Agricultural Station to the turn off for CA-299 to Cedarville (6 mi).
Take CA-299 to Cedarville. Along the way you cross the Cedar Pass (6,305 ft) (17 mi).
Welcome to Cedarville, CA. Here you’ll find gas, food and groceries. See our Cedarville information page for a full listing of businesses.

***

Cedarville, CA to Gerlach, NV
Distance: 83 mi.
Driving time: 2.5 hours

This is the most desolate stretch of the journey. The only business along the way between Cedarville and Gerlach is Planet X Potter a few miles outside of Gerlach. There are almost no houses and I do not know if the ones along the route are occupied or not.

Turn right at the gas station (after gassing up) and continue south to Gerlach on CA-447 (82 mi).
The road is actually called Surprise Valley RD.
You will pass through Eagleville (15 mi – 26 min).
In the distance to the left, you will see Middle Alkali and Lower Alkali Lake.
The color of the road completely changes. Welcome to Nevada (8 mi – 15 min).
You will notice the lack of anything except hills and scrub bushes.
You pass Planet X Pottery (50 mi – 1 hour 30 min).
You arrive in Gerlach (10 mi – 15 min).

***

Gerlach, to Burning Man
Distance: 11 mi.
Driving time: 20 minutes

We can’t emphasize this enough, when in Gerlach and the surrounding suburbs, drive below the speed limit. You will see more police officers in Gerlach than you saw during your entire journey. They have no problem writing tickets for any offense. However, it has been our experience that the officers will treat you with the same amount of respect that you show them. So our advice is to be courteous to the locals and participants alike. Remember, anything you do reflects on the event as a whole.

Head north from Gerlach to the fork in the road (1 mi).
Veer right and continue on NV-34 (11 mi).
On the right side of the road you should see the entrance of the event. Follow the signs posted by Burning Man staff to conclude the journey. There will be directions on how to get to the event from here. Follow the posted signs, drive below the speed limit and if you for some reason cannot find your way, stop at a bar and ask for directions. I highly recommend that you top off your tank before heading out to the event.

From the North (starting in Canada)
by Blackstrap Jack

Why is Burning Man so popular amongst Canadians? The theories are many-kinship with dust, higher national creativity average, the promise of warmth-but none of them really have much to do with the subject at hand. The thing is, every year more and more Canadians travel to Black Rock City, and there’s one particular aspect of our experience which American Burners won’t have to participate in… you guessed it, the border crossing!

Nothing against the nice Customs officials who work so hard to keep America safe from our socialized medicine, shockingly low dollar and poutine, but no one likes crossing the border. Personally, I do everything but slap a Jesus sticker on my window to get through without worry-and I’m not even doing anything wrong. Then there’s the drive. “Oooh, wah, San Francisco’s 10 hours away!” Try 20 or 30 hours, baby, across vast mountainous terrain, international boundaries and some pretty peculiar customs (did you know you can’t pump your own gas in Oregon? It’s a fact!). With that in mind, we’ve put together a short list of do’s and don’t’s to help better facilitate the Canadian experience of getting to Burning Man.

Do
Wear nice clothes when crossing the border. Think picnic with mom and dad; think “Nothing suspicious here, officer”. Think about waiting ’til you’re in Washington to dye your hair blue; think about removing a few of those facial piercings, just for the drive down. Remember, you can be denied entry for no particular reason-why make it any easier for them to just say no? A clean face (guys, shave!), clear eyes and a casual smile will go a long way toward hearing those six magic words: “You have a good day now.”

Don’t
Don’t even think about carrying across the line. Remember, Burning Man observes all state and federal laws, especially those dealing with certain substances that shall remain nameless on this page. No matter the proximity to Canada, no matter the shared geography or dangerously similar cultural signifiers, never forget that you are travelling to a foreign country. Watch Midnight Express before you pack. Vacuum your car before you travel-especially if you’re borrowing a vehicle. Clean out the ashtrays, look under the seats, dig behind the cushions. Wipe down the windows, even if you don’t smoke. It may seem like a lot of work for no particular reason, but look on the bright side: you’ll be showroom fresh for that long drive south.

Do
Pick an alternate route. Unless you’re in one of those real hard hurries where you have to drive straight through from Vancouver, Calgary or Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump, why subject yourself to that grey, concrete highway rush? Okay, if you’re coming from anywhere on the west coast of B.C., it only makes sense to take the I-5 through Washington, but there’s a few nice choices once you hit Oregon. Split east at Salem (Highway 22) or Albany (Highway 20) and travel the lava fields through Bend; the roads are smooth and empty and very relaxing. At Bend, take highway 97 south to La Pine (nice state park in La Pine), then either keep going straight on through to Klamath Falls for last- minute shopping (for car parts, Schuck’s is very helpful and it’s right on the highway) or skip it and take Highway 31 direct to Alturas-the only logical route to Black Rock City for northwestern travelers. At Alturas, you want to grab 299 to Cedarville, but in between the two you pass through Modoc National Forest, which has a very nice campsite (it’s FREE!) that usually fills with Burners on Sunday before the event starts; it’s a great place to catch your breath and make some pre-playa friends. After Cedarville, take the 447 to Gerlach and you’re home free!

If you’re coming from Alberta, try taking the Highway 12 across the Rockies from Missoula, Montana into Idaho, then heading south. You’ll travel some pretty impressive country and save some time. As for Ontario, well, that’s just too damn far away-find your own way down. Your regional contact [link to BRCYR: regional contacts] might have some suggestions about travel from your area, too.

Don’t
Don’t tell the Customs official that you’re going to Burning Man, unless he specifically asks. Do tell the truth (“We’re going camping!”), but when asked where, build it into a list (“Oh, Washington, Oregon, California,maybe Nevada”). Unless you’re taking down either an installation or an art car, make sure there’s nothing too obvious lying around to tip your hand (a giant teapot, jars of body paint, a Burning Man Survival Guide on the dash): remember, the fewer questions, the better. If pushed, tell them even more of the truth (“We’re hoping to reach Black Rock City, Nevada”). Be sure to mention “Nevada:” it invokes the secret gambling vibe, which Customs officials understand, and like. Okay, if it comes right down to it, admit you’re going to Burning Man, but whatever you do, don’t make it sound like you’re performing there. You may (like the Vancouver-based DJ’s in 1999) be denied entry because you don’t have a work permit to cover your “performance.” In the event this happens, don’t cause a fuss; just get back in your car, turn around, and try a different border crossing. And never, ever, show them your ticket. It may just vanish. And there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.

Do
Know your passengers! If carpooling, make sure your fellow travelers have no skeletons in their closets. If they do, and U.S. Customs finds out, you’ll be forevermore painted with the same brush on ALL subsequent visits. People have been refused entry for things like having an impaired driving conviction or a shoplifting offense. Also, if you just met your fellow travelers, learn a little about each other and make sure you have a story ready about how you all met (they have been known to ask).

Don’t
Importing multiple items for gifting, such as t-shirts, stickers, sew-on crests or hockey sticks, can be problematic. Customs simply cannot accept that fact that people give things away for free. Better alternatives are mailing the items to an American friend before the event, or spreading the bounty over several vehicles and then converging on the playa. Also, when travelling through Montana or Idaho, it’s a good idea to refrain from flying your “freak flag high” until you’re a little closer to Black Rock City (like, Gerlach). Both states, though friendly, are fairly conservative: the better you blend into the blacktop, the smoother your trip will be.

Do
Make sure the vehicle in which you’re travelling is in good condition. Whether you’re heading out of Vancouver, coming in from Alberta or doing the high plains drifter from Ontario, Black Rock City is a long way from anywhere in Canada, and our old dollar ain’t what it used to be. Vehicle repairs are expensive anywhere in the States, so give it a once-over before you leave and carry a basic emergency kit for your vehicle: flat tire inflater, radiator stop-leak, jumper cables, extra fuses, coolant, oil, pantyhose (for the fan belt), bungee cords (for anything else), and, most importantly, a CAA card. The card, and change for the phone, will get you AAA service wherever you break down-even in Klamath Falls.

Don’t
If, like a lot of us, you decide to borrow a camper (motorhome, tent-trailer) from your parents (in-laws, homies) to make your Black Rock City experience less… dusty, don’t forget to get something on paper from the owner saying that you have their permission to take this vehicle across the border. Just a letter to that effect, with a phone number where they can be reached around the time you’d be hitting the border. (“Dad, just make sure you’re home around noon, okay? That’s right, Burning Man. I know. I will. Blue. With flippers, yeah. I’ll try, you know, but sometimes it’s hard to find someone with a camera.” ) It’s a little thing, but it works every time. Remember, Americans think we’re unceasingly honest and polite. Work that cultural stereotype!

Don’t
Don’t say to yourself, “Oh, I’m going to the desert. It’ll be hot. I won’t be needing these winter clothes.” IT’S A LIE! Black Rock is a high-altitude desert and it gets really, really cold there (especially when the wind blows, which is often). This is the one aspect of Burning Man that Canadians do better than their American cousins: we know how to handle cold. Who danced their way through that unexpected 3 a.m. snow flurry in 2000? Canadians. Who have the best looking mukluks on the playa? Canadians. Who already own flame-topped toques? Yup, Canadians. Pack for a saucy night on the slopes, as well as a daring day at the beach, and you’ll be just fine.

Do
Play up your cultural differences on the playa. Flying a Canadian flag is fine, but it’s far more exotic is to pepper your conversation with references to French (even if you’re not fluent, slipping a “Oui” will make you seem oh-so-chic; and don’t forget that old 70s fallback: “Voulez vous couchez avec moi, c’est soir?” ), the metric system (guys, why settle for 8 inches when you can have a whopping 20 centimetres?), and obscure Canadian cultural references (“Larry Harvey? I think Atom Egoyan’s making a movie about him.” or “Hey, did you catch the Gigsville reference in that new Rheostatics cut?” ). And remember, porridge is your friend in the desert: it’s fast, easy to chew (think sore jaws) and the perfect quick meal anytime of the day.

Don’t
Don’t say “eh.” It’s bad enough that many of us actually use it, but for god’s sake, don’t make it any worse by perpetuating that particular stereotype!

Do
Leave your suspicions at home. Americans are quite nice in their own country, and as long as you’re not doing anything to upset them-or make them shoot-you’ll probably meet a lot of really nice people. If you’re traveling off the interstate, smaller towns are more than happy to have you stop and support their businesses. Just observe the posted speed limit at all times-and remember, it’s in miles, not kilometres (“But officer, I was only doing 100.”)

Don’t
Don’t let any of this bother you. Hundreds of us travel yearly to Black Rock City from all across Canada with no more problems than you’d expect on any long-distance drive (flat tires, bad music, grumpy passengers). Keep a positive attitude, think happy thoughts, and, before you know it, you’ll be choking on playa dust as you creep into Black Rock City-just like everybody else.

From the South (starting in LA)
by Cap’n Shady

Before you head off to Burning Man, you should sit down with a map and look at where you are going just to familiarize yourself with the different routes that are available. Depending on the time of day you leave Los Angeles, the type of vehicle you are driving and the amount of stuff you’ll need to purchase on the way, there are pros and cons to each route. You should consider all of these options, but make your decision on which route to take right at the moment you get in your vehicle.

In all honesty, you should take out a map and discover your own way to go. If you are driving all the way to Black Rock City from places near Los Angeles, you already have a hell of a drive ahead of you. Burning Man itself is such an incredible experience that you might as well go ahead and make the damn drive interesting. Regardless of the route, you are still looking at over ten hours of driving. Below I’ve outlined three different options for you:

Option One: Astroturf Highway

Interstate 5 North to Sacramento
Interstate 80 East to Reno, Nevada
From Reno, take the 80 east for approximately 30 miles.
Take the Wadsworth/Pyramid Lake exit #43 to Hwy 447.
Go north 1 mile to Wadsworth and turn left, staying on Hwy 447 for 75 miles to Empire
Continue 3 miles on Hwy 447 to Gerlach.

Highlights

This route is primarily reserved for RV enthusiasts, truck drivers and tourists who depend on corporate owned and operated chain restaurants and hotels to get them across the country without incident. This is, by far, the most lackluster approach to Burning Man one could make. Just when you think this ride has sunk as low into the suck-pit as it possibly could, you drive by a gargantuan cattle ranch that, day or night, has such an overwhelming funk to it that you can smell it for miles before and after you drive by it. Interstate 5 just sucks, plain and simple. The only improvement comes when you finally get on I-80 and head into the Sierra Nevada mountains and see some wilderness, great views and, of course, the site of the infamous Donner party.

The biggest advantage of this route is that if you are trying to make decent time in getting to or from Burning Man, you can speed like crazy. Granted, there are cops, but that’s a chance you’ll have to take if you want to speed to Burning Man in the first place, isn’t it? The only legitimate reason for taking this route is if you are leaving Los Angeles close to dusk. Interstate 5 has way more 24-hour resources available to you than any other route and hell, it’s dark, so it’s not like you’ll be doing any sightseeing. The I-5 portion of the route is straight and flat and relatively safe – going through the mountains from Sacramento to Reno is a bit trickier. Be very careful! If you still need to purchase the bulk of your Burning Man supplies, this route is littered with Walmarts and Big K’s and everything else you could want to find all your groceries, camping equipment and ice needs.

If you can, though, prepare in advance and leave in the early morning so that you can avoid this route at all costs. You have set off on a journey to the most avante-garde arts event in the world, why go normal? Get weird from the get-go and go a weird way. Discover that desolation out there before it turns into urban sprawl, already!

Option Two: American Dream

Route 14 North to Suburbia
Route 395 North to Reno, Nevada
From Reno, take the 80 east for approximately 30 miles.
Take the Wadsworth/Pyramid Lake exit #43 to Hwy 447.
Go north 1 mile to Wadsworth and turn left, staying on Hwy 447 for 75 miles to Empire
Continue 3 miles on Hwy 447 to Gerlach.

Highlights

This is a fantastic way to get to Burning Man if you want to go off the main roads, but not too far off. This is a great drive through the Mojave Desert and when you get into the Sierra Nevada mountains it becomes simply incredible, with breathtaking views all around. You are often in places quite rural and remote but there are still plenty of services and supermarkets and restaurants to keep you from going into convulsions or heavy breathing. This route requires a bit more planning: make sure you keep your tank full. This route takes you through the now-destroyed Owens Valley, destroyed because Los Angeles stole all its water.

One of my most favorite places to stop along the way is the Still Life Café, (which has now moved to Independence, CA). You will find an absolutely incredible, gourmet French restaurant that is literally in the middle of nowhere. There is a gas station across the street and a Jerky stand right next to it, but beyond that, you are at the base of great mountains, surrounded by incredibly beautiful desert and about to enjoy one of the best meals you could ever ask for. Many Burning Man people have stopped and eaten here before. Some have had to wait over two hours for their meal during the busy ski season, but my experience after Burning Man last year was just unbelievable. I stopped there for dinner just as the sun was setting behind the mountain. A meal with great food, wine and a beautiful sunset is one of the better ways you can reintroduce yourself to society. Do yourself a favor, though, and call ahead. The Still Life Café has strange hours and there’s not much else nearby it to provide a meal (except the never-ending stream of Beef Jerky stands) if it is closed.

Outside Bishop near Independence, you will find a must-see attraction: the site of the Manzanar Relocation Center, one of the many Japanese-American internment camps (code for concentration camp) that dotted the West during World War II. Once you get out of your vehicle, there is a downright inhospitable spirit that haunts you. Simply put, this place humbles you. During World War II there were, at one time, over 10,000 Japanese Americans interned here. All that is left today is a few buildings and the foundations. After the war, the U.S. government sold all the buildings and hauled off all the lumber, most likely to try to erase the fact that this place ever existed. There are leaflets available for a self-guided tour of the facility. This location represents one of the darkest times in American history and shouldn’t go unnoticed. This is an absolute requirement if you are on the 395 route. You will not leave this place the way you were when you arrived (I do, however, recommend going before Burning Man, not after, for obvious reasons).

Once you get near Mono Lake you’ll pass through Lee Vining and Nicely’s, a fantastic place with great pie (their menu has something for everyone). I specifically recommend this if you are on your way back from Burning Man, because nothing soothes the soul after departing from Black Rock City better than some fetching pie. Mmmm, pie.

In Bridgeport, you can stop at the Bridgeport Reservoir RV Park & Marina for a spell … the proprietor, Jeffrey, will be happy to welcome you. He also offers horse boarding, should the need arise. Also, stop by the Jolly Kone there in Bridgeport … Lynda will help you out with an ice cream to cool down, a burger to fill up, and potties to relieve yourself.

There are also some excellent hot springs in the Mono Lake area, but I’m going to let you discover those for yourself!

Option Three: Spooky Desert

Route 395 North to Bishop
US-6 North to Basalt
NV-360 to Tonopah Junction
US-95 North to Schurz
alt-US-95 North to Silver Springs, and onward to Fernley
under I-80, alt-95 becomes NV-427, which connects to 447 at Wadsworth.

Highlights

This is for those who like things rural, desolate and relatively unspoiled by man. I have not taken this route personally, so I can’t vouch for any of the information. I can vouch for the person who gave it to me, Nobody of Gigsville, but he can be a shifty fellow, and… This route requires that you stop at any gas station you see just so you never, EVER run out of gas. It doesn’t have much in way of traditional tourist kinda crap, but it does offer the Benton Hot Springs. There are Indian tobacco shops in Schurz, plus some strange-ass Naval submarine research facilities (in the middle of the desert?) on this route.

This route doesn’t really have the steep inclines and declines of the 395 or Interstate 80 through the Sierra Nevada mountains. It would probably be the better route to take if your vehicle can’t take steep inclines. But remember to gas up whenever you can! This is truly remote and there are very few cars on these roads even during peak hours, so engine problems and the like could prove to be quite dangerous.

All in all, there’s amazing and spooky landscape and military facilities to see and lots and lots of empty highway. You can do grocery shopping and the like in Yerington or Fernley, though it’s nowhere near as extensive as Reno. Piper’s Casino in Silver Springs is managed by a Gigsvillian, Camp Skynyrd’s own Cuzzin Joshua. Stop in and have a drink with him and put a few quarters in the slot machine.

***

These are just a few locations and routes that are available to you. There are many amazing places to explore and check out while on your way from Los Angeles to Black Rock City. I encourage you to find your own way there. It will, at least, give you something to talk about when you get to Black Rock City, or back to Los Angeles.

From Reno (the closest large city)
There are two routes:

Route 1 – From Reno, Nevada, take Hwy I-80 east 28 miles. Take the Wadsworth / Pyramid Lake Exit #43. You can get gas here. Then, go north one mile to Wadsworth and turn left, staying on Hwy 447. It’s 78 miles to Gerlach, and then 8 miles north on State Route 34 to BRC.

Route 2 – From Reno, take Hwy I-80 east 4 miles. Take Pyramid Way Exit #18 to Hwy 445. Turn left and travel north 31 miles. At Pyramid Lake, turn right on Hwy 446 and go east 12 miles to Nixon. You can get gas here. Turn left on Hwy 447, traveling north. 54 miles to Gerlach, and then 8 miles north on State Route 34 to BRC.

Traveler’s Advisory
State highways leading to Gerlach (the closest settlement to Black Rock City) and all other roads in the area are patrolled by the Nevada Highway Patrol. 25 MPH, as posted in nearby towns, means exactly that. Local kids and pets play in the road — be careful! Outside of town, be prepared to share the road with livestock and wildlife. Most vehicle accidents in which participants are injured occur on highways 447 and 34 on the final approach to Black Rock City. It is sadly ironic that people have often made it across the country only to have a serious injury in the last few miles. Please be cautious! Tired? Then stop to rest — especially at night! Be alert for cattle, deer and jackrabbits that will dart into the road in front of you — again, especially at night. Stop and look carefully at all train crossings. Estimating the speed of trains is misleading in the broad desert expanse. Always wait for any oncoming train to pass before crossing railroad tracks. And remember to conduct yourself appropriately (keep your clothes on) in neighboring towns, and LEAVE NO TRACE depositing your trash and recycling only at appropriate locations!

Shuttle Bus Services

Flying into Reno and Black Rock City

Travel safe – and see you on the playa!

Arranging Deliveries

Page 1: Arranging Deliveries
Page 2: Outside Services Program
Page 3: Fuel Transportation, Storage and Distribution Requirements


Potable Water Hauling Policies

Any person who is hauling, delivering, vending, providing, or selling potable water to any individual or organized camp other than their own private or individual camp at Burning Man must be permitted by the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health (NDPBH).

This policy does not apply to RV providers which provide a water already stocked in the RV for individual use.


 

Below are the ONLY ways deliveries can be made on playa:

Option 1: Deliver EVERYTHING Yourself!

This means you or your campmates drive your things in and out on your own, without relying on any third-party assistance, even if you’re bringing in large cargo, trailers, etc. Pat yourself on the back for being radically self-reliant! 

Option 2: Outside Services Program

Burning Man Project’s Outside Services (OSS) program supports projects by facilitating access to the event site by larger-scale service providers. 

Using an OSS provider is recommended for groups that do not have the appropriate equipment to safely transport their infrastructure into Black Rock City and need the support of someone with authorization from BLM and Burning Man Project to deliver directly to their campsite.

OSS providers may not drop any equipment or start any services until a camp has claimed their reserved placement from a member of the Placement team on playa.

Camps must have checked in with Placement, and at least one camp member must be present at the camp in order to receive an OSS delivery. An OSS provider cannot be the first to check in with the Placement Team on behalf of a theme camp or any other camp with reserved placement. Any provider who attempts to do so will jeopardize their future participation in the OSS program.

Potential new OSS providers wishing to participate in this program must be engaged year-round in their usual occupation and business activities that they plan to offer, have the required proof of insurance and business license, and be able to comply with all other terms of Burning Man Project’s OSS agreement.

NOTE: The OSS application process for the 2021 Burning Man event closes on April 30th, 2021. 

Service providers are required to apply or renew their SRPs with BLM prior to April 30, 2021.

Both Burning Man Project and BLM do not accept late submissions.

 All prospective OSS providers must apply to BLM for a Special Recreation Permit (SRP) and must complete Burning Man Project’s OSS application by the published deadlines.

At the time of the OSS application, providers must submit proof of insurance and a copy of their business license. 

The SRP application is available on BLM’s website here. Providers must call the BLM Winnemucca District Office before submitting or renewing an application: 775-623-1500. Burning Man Project will confirm with BLM that the provider has submitted all necessary paperwork to obtain a BLM SRP for the event. An SRP is mandatory for all providers in the OSS program.  

In order to participate in the OSS program, the provider must also sign a contract with Burning Man Project agreeing to the program’s terms and restrictions. 

Drivers with OSS credentials can make deliveries on playa via the delivery gate from 6 am until 6 pm each day beginning on the date specified in their contract. Any provider delivering potable water or prepared food must furnish a Nevada State Health Certificate. Any provider delivering fuel must comply with the fuel delivery requirements.

If you have any questions about the Outside Services Program, please email outsideservices@burningman.org.

 

Next Page: Outside Services Program

Mutant Vehicles

What is a Mutant Vehicle?

Slow down, hotshot. All Mutant Vehicles must be licensed to drive on playa. Learn more.

A Mutant Vehicle is a unique, motorized creation that either shows little or no resemblance to their original form, or to any standard street vehicle, or is out of context from it’s normal setting (a pirate ship or space ship on the desert, for example). Mutant Vehicles can be built from scratch or are radically, stunningly,and safely modified from their base vehicle.

The Clock Ship Tere by Andy Tibbetts (photo by Patrice Mackey aka Chef Juke)

 

Mutant Vehicles may include such non-standard motorized forms such as furniture, other non-street vehicles such as a boat or train, animals, or just about anything imaginable. For safety reasons, they must not mimic any type of emergency service or law enforcement vehicle.

Vehicles merely stripped to the frame and engine, and vehicles with minimal changes or temporary decorations are not considered Mutant Vehicles.

How are Mutant Vehicles different from any art car?

The Mutant Vehicle classification was specifically created by the DMV for use in Black Rock City. The classification was created because the term “art car” can have a broad definition, and, because of the limit on the number of vehicles the DMV can license, the DMV needed a classification that better described the level of ‘mutation’ that was required for a license.

A Mutant Vehicle is, in essence, a specific variety of art car that is either built from scratch, or is more modified, customized or changed (i.e. ‘mutated”) from its original form, if any,  than most art cars. 

What is NOT Considered a Mutant Vehicle?

  • The following are not considered Mutant Vehicles:
  • Unmutated vehicles.
  • Vehicles only stripped to the frame and engine.
  • Street/stock vehicles with minimal changes or temporary decorations.
  • Vehicles which too strongly resemble the original form or where too much of the base vehicle is unmutated and still visible.
  • Low riders, classic cars, monster trucks, dune buggies, rat rods and hot rods (there are other venues for these vehicles to be appreciated)

Mutant Vehicles are integral to the culture and community at Burning Man. They contribute to the surreal, visual quality that binds Black Rock City together.

If you are interested in bringing a Mutant Vehicle to Black Rock City, see the Mutant Vehicle Licensing and Criteria.

Camp Layouts

Camp and Village Layout Plans

The layout plan is a diagram that serves several key purposes:

  • It will help you design and build your camp
  • It will help the Placement team choose where and how to integrate your camp into a cohesive and harmonious neighborhood
  • It allows safety and logistical concerns to be reviewed early in the process, reducing the risk of having to make big last-minute changes on the playa

Please prepare your camp layout plan prior to starting your Placement Questionnaire and follow the guidelines listed on this page. Layout plans are submitted as file uploads into the questionnaire. The deadline for the Placement Questionnaire is explicitly stated on the BRC participation forms page. You can find more tips about camp layouts in the Camp Resource Guide.

Example Layouts

Take a look at these mock layouts:

Format

  • Accepted formats are Joint Photographic Group (.jpg), Portable Network Graphics (.png), or Portable Document Format (.pdf). 
  • Limit file size to approximately 1 MB. Most printer drivers will allow a document to be saved as a .pdf file. 
  • While we prefer digitally created layouts, you may photograph a drawing or sculpture of your layout with a digital camera, in order to create a .jpg file for submission.

When submitting your plan as a digital file, be sure the file name is your unique camp name. (NOT the generic “camp plan” or “layout plan”)

Creating a Layout

  • Include your camp name and contact info on your camp plan.
  • Layout plans must be an overhead/birds-eye view of your camp.
  • Include parcel dimensions in feet. Frontage (the parts of your camp that are intended for public interaction, including signs and other visual attractions) should be outlined, highlighted, or otherwise distinguished from “backstage” areas.
  • Use 8.5 x 11-inch “landscape” (horizontal) orientation. Color is welcome, so long as the diagram is completely readable when printed in black and white — avoid dark, cluttered backgrounds. (We know they’re cool, but please do not use satellite photos of previous years.)
  • Call out significant features and each project within your camp area:
    • Where is the camp entrance?
    • Where is the main structure or area for the participant interactions?
    • Where are vehicles parked?
    • Where are generators?
    • If you need a fire lane (see requirements below), where is the path of travel for fire and emergency vehicles?
    • If you own a BRC storage container that needs to be delivered and placed, provide the PC# on your plan, indicate the exact placement of the container (with distances from camp perimeters), and indicate where the container doors should open.
    • If you are a village: Where are your access roads? What are the names of the camps within your village? Does your village have a main entrance and frontage? Do your camps in villages have their own frontages within the village or facing the street?
  • A photo or rendering of camp frontage view is requested, but not required.

Want a template to help create a to-scale of your camp? This Adobe Illustrator file can help you get started. You are not required to use this template, and we happily accept other layouts as they include what’s requested above (including hand drawn ones — make sure they’re legible!)

Layout Dos and Don’ts

Fire Lanes

Frontage and Parking


Access and Frontage

Don’t

Do

  • Don’t put your generator on your neighbors border.
  • Don’t put private portos and RVs with generators exhausting on your neighbors.
  • Don’t assume you can split your fire/access lane with your neighbor. Only camps >150×150 require a fire lane.
  • Don’t use an aerial photo of last year as this year’s layout submission. It’s hard to read, especially when printed in black & white.
  • Don’t isolate anything that needs to be serviced: RV’s, graywater tanks, etc. need clear access paths the width of a fire lane.
  • Don’t group your liquid fuels and liquefied propane gas storage together. 
  • Do indicate large immovable objects or any kind of pyro / fire.  This includes items that absolutely must be faced a certain direction, or that would prevent camp rotation.
  • Do clearly mark where interactivity will be & what will be private camp space. (edited) 
  • Do use feet as the standard unit of measurement. 
  • Do include your fire lane. 
  • Do include your fuel storage, your generator(s), and your fire extinguishers.
  • Do place your generator no more than 20’ away from your frontage street or fire/access lane with a straight and unobstructed access for the fuel hose to reach it from the road. 
  • Do include which side you consider your frontage; if you are a village, be sure to include the frontages for the camps in your village.
  • Do show where neighbor camps would optimally be placed to facilitate resource sharing.
  • Do, if you are on the Esplanade or 10 & 2, create a diagram of how you are going to utilize the space across the Avenue/Esplanade including how you are planning to power / light up anything you are putting there.
  • Do include sufficient space for bike parking if the camp will be hosting events that will attract crowds; don’t leave it up to your guests to invent a place to park.
  • If you have an activity for ‘mature audiences only,’ DO clearly mark where that will be taking place.
  • Do include your Burning Man PC container with the number indicated. Include dimensions from the borders of the camp to the PC, also include where the door goes.

Important Fire and Fuel Safety Features for Camps

  • Camps requesting a space 150’ x 150’ or larger OR that store more than 21 gallons of fuel in their camp must have a fire lane. This should be an entrance and into camp at least 20’ wide for access, and the lane must maintain this width for the duration of the event. Avoid one-way-in and one-way-out (dead-end) fire lanes. Camps smaller than 150′ x 150′ do not need a fire lane.
  • Fire/servicing lanes must not include any sharp turns or corners, trucks must be able to pass straight through to the street, and provide a clear and visible path. The fire lane should provide a direct access road to enter and exit your camp from & onto a Lettered/Numbered Street that DO NOT require trucks to turn around or back out. This entrance should be maintained and not blocked by vehicles or bikes at any time. For more information: BRC Fuel Program.
  • Signage and caution tape can be used to designate the fire lane. Participants should keep in mind the fire exposure issue with hard-sided structures lined up side-by-side. We recommend that hard-sided structures have at least 5’ between them to mitigate fire hazards.
  • All camps and villages must be equipped with fire extinguishers in key locations (e.g., kitchens, near burn bins, fuel storage, and other hazards) located on a post, in full view, close enough but not right next to fire hazards, and indicated on the layout diagram.
  • Fuel containers must be stored in secondary containers (e.g., bins, kiddie pools) large enough to hold 110% of the largest container stored within it.  Fuel containers (even little ones) should not be filled more than 80% of capacity to allow for heat expansion.
  • All camps storing or using combustible fuels must educate themselves about and comply with appropriate practices for storing and handling these materials. Not only is this essential for safety, but it is also required as part of our event permit stipulations with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Please refer to the  FUEL AND HAZMAT STORAGE website for compliance information. 
  • This diagram is what BLM will use when evaluating camp sites for fuel storage.

Fire Extinguishers

  • Avoid using ABC extinguishers in kitchens (serious contaminants) – recommend damp towels as 1st use in a kitchen fire.
  • At least one hand-held portable extinguisher with a 40-B rating is required for any fuel storage area. 
  • Laminate a “HOW TO USE” tag on each extinguisher (PASS)

Looking for more tips?

  • Check out the Camp Resource Guide, a helpful guide prepared by other camp leaders, which has a whole section on Camp Layouts.

You’re always welcome to email placement@burningman.org with questions or if you come across problems submitting a layout plan. Remember to include your camp name in the subject line and [Camp Layout] to help our routing.

Ambient Drummers

The Ambient Drummers are a collection of unaffiliated drummers that help create atmosphere at the foot of the Man on the night of the Burn. Each drummer comes with a drum and a desire to create music. We collect drummers into groups, give them a chance to practice with each other and then spread them around the Great Circle with the Fire Conclave on the night of the Burn to fill the air with music. Here are the basics:

  • All drummers who wish to participate must attend one rehearsal/meeting during the week of the event.
  • All drummers must sign in at Fire Conclave Convergence in Center Camp before the meeting.
  • We do not supply drums; you must bring your own drum, shaker, or instrument.
Photo by Kevin LeVezu

 

What we need from you:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Location in the world (City, State, Country)
  • A brief introduction
  • Affiliation with any musical group or fire group (optional)

Send the above information to drummers@burningman.org.

 

 

Once we have this info we will add you to the drummers announce email list. This list is where we will send you info that you need in order to participate.

Photo by Kyer Wiltshire

 

 

Fire Conclave

Fire is the very heart and essence of life. For it is phenomena rather than substance, that is revealed, seen and touched in ways of risk and ritual.

Fire Conclave performs at the Man burn, 2013 (Photo by Ales aka Dust To Ashes)

Fire Conclave performs at the Man burn, 2013 (Photo by Ales aka Dust To Ashes)

What is the Fire Conclave?

The Fire Conclave is a composition of select fire performance groups from around the world who create choreography dedicated to honoring the Man. Their performances forge a temporary community, as they offer fire art as a gift in service to the Man. Under the night sky, before the release of the Man in pyrotechnic delight, the largest convergence of fire performers and support staff gather at one time where, more fire energy is expressed and let loose than anywhere else in the world. Along with the Fire Conclave there are also the Processional Consortium and Ambient Drummers. Learn about how to join the Fire Conclave and the Fire Conclave history.

The Processional

The Processional is made up of of Luminists, torchbearers who create a path for the Luminferrous to pass; Lamplighters who convey the Luminferrous to the Man; and a processional band who generates energy for the procession. The Processional Consortium transfers the flame from the Cauldron to each fire group in the Fire Conclave, who stand ready to receive the flame.

Ambient Drummers

The Ambient Drummers are a collection of musicians, not affiliated with fire performance groups, that help create atmosphere at the foot of the Man on the night of the Burn. Drummers are organized into groups who rehearse together before joining the Fire Conclave groups around the Great Circle on to fill the air with music.

Fire Conclave Ceremonies

Burning Man’s ceremonial fire activity encompasses the spirit as well as the body and mind. The gathering of people dancing and drumming around a fire goes back to the beginning of Burning Man and beyond — it is the original, essential form of dance that crystallizes community. By summoning the power of the flame to flow through us, it strengthens and transforms our spirit.

Opening Fire Ceremony & The One Flame

Opening Ceremony – Photo by Grant Palmer

On the first Monday of the event, Crimson Rose extracts a flame from the sun to light  a fire in El Diabla, a special cauldron located in Center Camp. For the flame to continue burning it must be stoked, disturbed and kept alive throughout the entire week. We encourage all those that encounter El Diabla to help keep this flame alive.

 

Procession Of The Ceremonial Flame

Crimson Rose lighting Luminferrous – Photo by Espressobuzz

On Saturday night the fire that has been extracted from the sun, drummed and danced around, and has been burning all week long will be transferred to a special lantern, the Luminferrous. The Procession of the Ceremonial Flame will proceed to the Great Circle where the Sentinels will receive the fire and share it with the largest convergence of fire performers, the Fire Conclave, who will utilize that same fire to start their dances dedicated to the Man before it is released in pyrotechnic delight.

 

Fire Performance

What was once a specialty dance created by a few has spread like wildfire. Fire Dancing has grown and matured into a full-blown performance art form, where the art is as varied as the imagination of those who dance with the flame. Fire Dance has its roots in many cultures and is embraced at Burning Man on a scale that is unmatched anywhere.

Fire Conclave

The Fire Conclave is a composition of select fire groups from around the world who create choreographed fire dances to honor the Man before it burns on Saturday night, creating the largest gathering of fire performance in the world.

For general information on fire performance on the playa, visit Fire Conclave Convergence in Center Camp. Fire Conclave Convergence is staffed Monday through Friday, 10am-6pm. There you will find lingering fire dancers, and a large dry erase board with notices of happenings, where participants can share information about performances and spin jams on playa.

Before heading to the playa you may want to join the Fire Conclave Announce email list.

Basic Fuel Storage Information & Fire Performance

  • Fire Performers at Burning Man must always follow basic safety practices when dealing with fuel. For information on the safe use of specific fuels you should first read the recommendations printed on the original fuel container.
  • Fuel should be kept in the original container or other containers clearly marked as containing fuel. Water bottles or other containers that might lead to the accidental ingestion of fuels should not be used.
  • Keep your fuel out of direct sunlight and away from any open flames, burn barrels and other sources of ignition.
  • When transferring fuel use a secondary containment such as a 5-gallon bucket or other larger container to prevent spills. Do not dump excess or unused fuel on the playa.
  • More information about the storage of fuels at Burning Man can be found here.

Basic Guidelines for Fire Performance

  • Please be aware of your environment and surroundings anytime you are performing with fire.
  • Respect boundaries set by camps and campers.
  • Fire can cause serious injury, disfigurement and property damage. All fire performers must perform sober and act responsibly.
  • Before beginning any fire performance check your equipment for any damage or issues that might cause the device to come apart and potentially cause a flaming element to be thrown into camping areas or at those gathered to watch.
  • Always have proper fire suppression equipment at hand. Fire suppression equipment should include clean wet towels or duvetyn for extinguishing performers and a separate one for extinguishing tools and props.
  • At least one BC rated extinguisher should be on hand for extinguishing fuel fires. Note: do not use dry chemical fire extinguishers on performers as the chemical material will need to be removed from burns and that will hurt!
  • Do not leave flames burning on the playa surface (you may be ticketed by BLM).
  • Do not spin or shake off excess fuel on the playa; use a spin off bucket or zip-lock baggies to catch your excess fuel. That means burning off those fuel trails on the playa surface is a no-no.

Fire Safety

  • There are no formal Fire Conclave Safety Trainings, however you may always stop by Fire Conclave Convergence or check the What, Where, When for information about trainings that may be presented by theme camps or individual fire troupes.
  • All fire performers must have a second person on hand acting as a safety. This person should be able to extinguish tools using a flame retardant material (such as duvetyn) and a second piece of wet clean natural fiber (such as a cotton towel) should your costuming be ignited.
  • The safety person should also be able to deal with any situations you may not be aware of as you perform. You never know when something may go wrong so be sure to always have a sober fire safety. Just because you have your act together doesn’t mean the people around you do.

Nevada State Fire Performance Permitting and Laws

  • Nevada state law does not regulate fire performances at Burning Man. Which means there is no special permitting required, though unsafe behavior will not be allowed at any time. Black Rock Rangers or Emergency Service members may ask those found to be performing in an unsafe manner to stop and correct safety issues.

Center Camp Café Performance

Singer/Songwriters, jugglers, stilt-walkers, marching bands, film-makers, and magicians are just some the participants of Black Rock City who fill the Café with their pulsing, raucous energies. In addition to the free-form entertainment that abounds, the Café hosts special events, and has a stage for scheduled community performances.

about this photo

The Performance Stage is a fun and high profile way for participants to share their talents at Burning Man. During the day, an eclectic mix of Café-style musical offerings such as instrumental, jazz, and world performances encourage community gathering, relaxation, and social interaction. We also host spoken-word, comedy and small-scale theatrical productions. In fact, the entire Café is a majestic space host to performances as unique as their surroundings; not all performances happen on the stage. We can also host large participatory and performance groups, dancers, orchestras, and jugglers in what we call “the Center of the Center”: the occulus of the Center Camp Café.

Are you one of those black-clad gaffer’s-tape-and-flashlight types? Volunteer as a tech on the Café Sound and Performance Team!

The Café is seeking acts that can contribute to the Café ambiance with performances from opening Monday and throughout the event until Sunday just before Temple Burn. Yes, that’s right, we are open 24/7 for Event Week. Performers interested in performing in the Café should arrange for a pre-scheduled performance time during the event. You can get started by emailing some basic information to our Café Performance booking volunteers:

  • Your name
  • The name of your Act
  • Featured instruments and musical style
  • Brief sound requirements
  • Links to any online samples or information, excerpt from one of your poems, sketches, or plays, or a description of the type of performance you’re planning.
  • ****Note to Booking Agents – All artists are required to be radically self reliant, which means purchasing their own ticket to the event as well as providing all necessaries to survive the Black Rock City. We do not work with Booking Agents, have your clients contact us directly.

We have three wonderful volunteers to help get your performance booked. Email them to:

  1. For your spoken word/comedy stylings:
    cafe-spoken@burningman.org
  2. For musical performances:
    cafe-music@burningman.org
  3. For other all other types of performances:
    cafe-performers@burningman.org

If you have an event that may contribute to the overall Café community experience and require any additional assistance or if you have general questions about performing in, on, or around the Café, contact cafe-performance@burningman.org.

 

Share your expertise, research, analysis, and experiences with your fellow playa citizens and be a part of the Center Camp Cafe Speaker Series!

Every year the Speaker Series has a sub-theme that we ask you consider how your talk might fit into. Our sub-theme for 2018 is:

**Em(Body)ment- The foundation from which we perceive and act**

We want to ask you to explore a way in which you enter the world, specifically through physical embodiment and how that influences the way we perceive ourselves, each other, and interact with the world.

Some things to consider when submitting your topic may include:

— How and what you study

— How and what you prioritize

— The way you speak/the language you use

— The way you interact

Of course, we accept talks that are not specific to our theme, however talks that incorporate this year’s event theme (I, Robot), or Speaker Series sub-theme will be given scheduling priority.

Structure of Our Talks:

  • Talks generally range in length from 10-30 minutes.
  • There is a moderated Q&A that follows every talk ranging in time from 5-25 minutes depending on the submission, the time slot, and the audience engagement level. This is where the moderator and the audience can question and engage with the presenter on their assumptions and thesis.
  • All submissions and topics are welcome, as long as general Burning Man ethos and values are upheld. (i.e. No promotions of products, corporations, political candidates, or rigid partisanship.)
  • We are looking for speakers and talks, not workshops.
  • We are looking for fully structured talks that reveal and explore the nature of the topic submitted. Research, whether academic or experiential, is welcomed and appreciated.
  • We are a family friendly venue until dark, and we have no speaker slots after dark this year, though that doesn’t mean that we will not accept talks on ‘racy’ or more ‘adult’ subjects… it’s just something to consider in the framing of your submission and talk.

For speaker series submissions email:
speakerseries@burningman.org

Next Page: Performance Guidelines

Fuel and Hazmat Storage

Fuel Guidelines

Most fuel spills result from improper storage and transfer of fuel. As citizens of Black Rock City, we must remember our responsibility for Leaving No Trace. Fuel will expand with heat. Never fill your fuel containers past 80%, no matter if you use a five gallon fuel can or a 55 gallon drum.

Fuel must be stored and transported in containers designed and rated for the type of fuel within. These containers must be in good working order and free from defects or leaks. Black Rock City PETROL reserves the right to refuse containers found to be unusable or a hazard.

Protect the playa surface from fuel spills. All containers, regardless of size, must be stored within “secondary containment” basins even during transport. These basins must be capable of holding 110% of the volume of the largest single fuel container stored within it.

Follow the guidelines below when storing containers of fuel.

Large Scale Storage

  • No more than two 55-gallon fuel drums (or no more than a total of 110 gallons of fuel) may be stored in a camp.
  • Do not fill fuel containers more than 80% of capacity to allow for heat expansion; do not fill past the maximum fill line marked on containers.
  • All fuel containers, regardless of size, must be stored within “secondary containment” basins capable of holding 110% of the volume of the largest single fuel container stored within it. For large fuel containers, a secondary containment solution can be as simple as a fuel pallet or a plastic kiddie pool. If a fuel container should fail, a secondary containment basin will catch all the fuel.
  • Fuel and flammables must be stored in approved containers that must remain closed except when filling or dispensing.
  • Fuel containers should be “UL” certified for safety and in good condition.

Small Scale Storage (one to five gallons)

  • All fuel containers, regardless of size, must be stored within “secondary containment” basins. If a fuel container should fail, a secondary containment basin will catch all the fuel. For small fuel containers, a secondary containment solution can be as simple as a cement mixing tub or fuel-resistant tarp with a raised frame placed beneath to create a containment area.
  • Fuel containers (even little ones) should not be filled more than 80% of capacity to allow for heat expansion. Do not fill past the maximum fill line marked on containers.
  • Fuel containers are to remain closed except when filling or dispensing.
  • Fuel containers should be CARB and EPA certified.
  • Never use fuel containers that are degraded by the sun, cracked or damaged.

Fuel Storage Area Safety Guidelines

  • No more than two 55 gallon fuel drums (or no more than a total of 110 gallons of fuel) may be stored in a camp. [MANDATORY]
  • A safety radius of 100 ft. must separate fuel storage areas between neighboring camps. [MANDATORY]
  • For liquid fuel storage a safety radius of at least 20’ must be maintained from any liquefied gas storage area, eg. propane, CNG, any other gas fuel. [MANDATORY]
  • A safety radius of 10 ft. must separate fuel storage areas from any non-fuel item.  This includes bikes, trailers, tents, camp structures and public areas. [MANDATORY]
  • A safety radius of 25 ft. must separate fuel storage from a source of ignition or heat sources such as burn barrels, grills/stoves, running generators, RVs and vehicles, . [MANDATORY]
  • Within 10 ft. of your fuel storage, keep a fire extinguisher easily visible and accessible. [MANDATORY] We recommend a 40-B rating / five pound fire extinguisher.
  • Fuel storage area must be kept away from where it can be struck by vehicles. [MANDATORY] Fuel storage areas must be protected from vehicle collision. Establish a safety perimeter around fuel storage areas using caution tape or equivalent.
  • If your fuel must be in the sun, make sure that it’s only filled to 80% so that when the fuel expands, it does not break your container. [MANDATORY]
  • Fuel should not be stored inside or under a living area. [RECOMMENDED]
  • Storing fuel in the shade is recommended, particularly in a designated fuel storage depot. However, fuel should never be stored in a confined space, under or near a structure or vehicle, or close to sources of ignition. [RECOMMENDED]
  • Fuel storage area must be accessible from a 20’ wide fire lane and access road. [MANDATORY]
  • “NO SMOKING – FLAMMABLE” signage must be visible from all four directions around fuel storage areas. [RECOMMENDED]

Fuel Spills & Playa Protection

  • Bring a shovel and sealable five-gallon bucket for removing fuel spills and contaminated soil from the playa and take it with you post event to dispose of.
  • Fuel spills and contaminated soil that are larger than 5 gallons must be reported to Black Rock Rangers or Emergency Services Department at either Center Camp or the 3 and 9 O’Clock plazas. Any Burning Man staff member can also help you call for the ESD-Hazmat team. Reports should include location and contact person. Possible sources of ignition should be eliminated in the area of a spill. Vapors can travel significant distance away from the spill.

 Fire Hazards

  • Do not fuel generators while they are running.
  • Beware the dangers of static electricity. A spark can ignite gas vapors. Static can be generated anytime fuel is moving from one container to another.

Fuel Delivery & Filling

Purchasing fuel onsite and planning for fuel usage will reduce the amount of fuel you need to transport and store. Transporting and storing the minimum amount of fuel necessary reduces safety risks as each point of transfer is a risk of spill, fire or worse. It is preferable to have generators filled daily by the fuel team rather than storing fuel in your camp and filling equipment yourself.

Fuel deliveries for generators and/or fuel drums can be arranged with the PETROL Department prior to the event. Once these arrangements are made, fuel will be delivered to your camp location. There are no account registrations on-playa. All fuel registrations must take place in the fuel registration window so the department can plan pre-event and allocate resources needed to run effectively.

Mutant Vehicles should pre-register for fueling through the PETROL Department. Approved Mutant Vehicles can then be fueled at the Hell Station at 10:00 & L.

approved_fuel_container

Review the fuel container handout.

Read more about the fuel program and setting up an account here.

For more information email petrol@burningman.org.

Burn Scar Prevention

So you have a beautiful piece of art that you wish to burn at Burning Man. How do you practice Leave No Trace (LNT) and protect the playa from heat damage?

The Problem

Ultra Bad Burn Scar (Photo by Moonfire)

Burning anything directly on the surface of the playa will create Burn Scars, which are patches of discolored, hardened playa sediment, caused by the heat and smoke of carelessly constructed bonfires. They are difficult to clean up and take years to recover.

Burn Scars, like the one to the left, are one of the issues that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) watches closely in their role as stewards of public land. Burning Man’s ability to return to the Black Rock Desert year after year is directly dependent upon our ability to Leave No Trace. It is also your responsibility as a citizen of Black Rock City to Leave No Trace during your time here.

The Challenge

You as the artist have two choices in burning your art:

Move It

This choice is the simplest; you can either dismantle your artwork, or carry it in one piece if you have enough people, and place it in one of the Community Burn Gardens. Burn Gardens are located on the open playa side of the Esplanade at the terminus of the 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00 streets.

It is best to dismantle your art and place it in the burn cauldrons. The height of the cauldrons will most likely be over your head and ablaze, so exercise due care when loading your artwork.

Note: Do not add any liquid fuel to the Burn Gardens as they are metal cauldrons standing about five feet tall; the flash-over from adding liquid fuel to an unseen fire down inside the cauldron makes it too dangerous to attempt.

You can also burn your art on the ashes of the Man Saturday night after the Man has fallen, and after the crowd dies down. Please make sure your crew is safe and that the piece is placed completely over the DG so none of your work extends onto the unprotected playa and scorches it. If you decide to burn on the Man’s ashes please be careful; there are many hearty participants who like to sift through the ash and rubble to find melted pieces of the Man’s neon. It’s important to make sure your installation does not pose any additional safety risk to participants.

Burn It In Place

Closer look at inadequate burn platform.

Closer look at inadequate burn platform.

If you wish to burn your art directly on the playa, you need to make sure it is six inches off the ground and you have options available to protect the playa from direct and radiant heat to prevent burn scars. With some clever thinking, preparation and intelligent use of materials, this can be made to fit in with the aesthetics of the installation.

As you plan for the burning of your art on the playa and the prevention of burn scars there are some aspects that must be paid attention to in order to prevent worst case scenarios like the inadequate burn platform to the right.

What kind of damage can flaming art do to the playa?

Plenty. The playa hardens and discolors when exposed to fire. This difference in hardness from the surrounding playa when exposed to weathering creates raised areas, allowing dunes to form. Dunes are a hazard for vehicles and affect the landscape in undesired ways.

  • When designing a simple Burn Shield the following aspects must be taken into consideration: overall weight of the art, whether participants will be walking on the artwork, heavy falling portions of the artwork staying on the Burn Shield and not allowing it to penetrate or damage the platform. Sharp edges and tripping hazards are all factors to consider when choosing materials.
  • Debris must be prevented from falling onto the playa surface such as ashes, wood chips, nails etc. that can and will settle into cracks in the playa surface. These materials can be very difficult to clean; even smoke stains can be challenging to remove and are best dealt with by prevention.
  • The Burn Shield should be designed in such a way as to extend beyond the width of the artwork and catch any flaming debris that may fall, as well as catch the artwork should it fall to one side. Additional Burn Shield materials can be added prior to the burning of your art to accommodate this.
  • One of the key aspects of your Burn Scar Prevention plan should always be cleaning up as quickly as possible after the burn, disposing of all materials and debris from the playa before wind and other weather conditions spread ash and other debris. An aspect of the clean-up that is sometimes missed is clean-up of any MOOP (Matter Out Of Place) left from participants who have come to watch the burning of your piece. A sweep of the area for cigarette butts and other trash is a must post-burn. As an artist burning your installation you will be responsible for an area of approximately 50 feet or more past your perimeter. A member of FAST will work with you to identify your complete area of responsibility.

Burn Shield Design and Decomposed Granite

A Burn Shield is defined as something that separates and insulates the playa from heat and smoke of a burn. The key to Burn Scar Prevention is making sure that your Burn Shield is designed to protect the playa. Over the last few years Burning Man has studied the successes and failures of numerous Burn Shield designs. After much trial and error we have identified some systems that have proven effective in preventing both baking and discoloration of the playa surface. There are two different approaches to this that we have found work best.

The Burn Platform

Burn platform, a closer look

Burn platform, a closer look

Burn Platform Designs, like the example to the left, work best for artworks that are smaller and lighter and will not be supporting the weight of participants climbing or walking. The idea with this design is to create a separation of at least six inches or more from the playa to the bottom of the burn shield, and have it designed to support the weight of the artwork. This type of design is usually constructed of flat or corrugated steel sheeting supported by and securely fastened to either steel legs or cinder blocks. A key factor in a successful design of this type is not to have any wood or other materials below or hanging over the steel sheeting as these will be set ablaze from the radiant heat, defeating the shielding effect of the steel. If the Burn Platform material is flimsy there is the potential of everything collapsing onto the playa, defeating the purpose of Burn Shield.

Decomposed Granite (DG)

Installation materials examined

Installation materials examined

Building a Burn Shield that both protects the playa and supports the weight and movement of participants is a greater challenge. Burning Man has discovered that a layer of Decomposed Granite (DG) placed between the surface of the playa and pre-construction of the artwork, like the example to the right, will provide an insulating layer protecting the playa from heat as well as providing the needed support for larger artwork. Care must be taken not to leave any exposed areas and to protect the DG from being scattered by participants.

No matter what kind of protection you think you will use for burning your artwork, The Fire Art Safety Team (FAST) is here to help discuss your Open Fire Burn Shield Designs. Arrangements for the purchase of Decomposed Granite are made through Burning Man and a deposit will be required pre-event to insure its clean-up and removal. Please contact us at fire-art@burningman.org with any questions.

Notes

  • Corrugated steel needs supports no more than two (2) feet (0.6m) apart to support the weight of walkers or heavy objects.
  • You may not use painted metal. Remove paint from metal before bringing it to the playa.
  • Avoid using aluminum. Even moderately high heat (~1200°F/650°C) will cause aluminum to melt.
  • You can use nails, screws, or other steel fasteners in the construction of your installation. You are required to clean them from the burn site. A magnet rake is one of the greatest cleanup tools and can be purchased cheaply.
  • When preparing to burn your piece remember not to use flammable liquids in such a way that they spill off of the platform and onto the playa surface.
  • Avoid incorporating plastics and synthetics into your art installation. Any such items in your installation will need to be removed before it is burned.
  • Clean up as quickly as possible, before participants pile garbage onto your burn.
  • Steel containers (drums, garbage cans, large buckets) are much safer than plastic for removing ashes and debris. Plastic garbage can liners are not recommended.
  • Please remember to check out with the ARTery after you have completed your cleanup so they may note that you have left your spot clean.
IMPORTANT: If your art incorporates any kind of fire, it is mandatory that you have a burn scar protection plan and that you work with FAST to assist you. We are here to help! If you are creating burning art, you will be required to fill out the Fire Safety section of the participation form and include your burn scar protection plan.

To be prepared to fill out the participation forms, please read all the relevant guidelines under our Fire Art Guidelines page.

Questions

Here are email addresses where you may direct questions concerning:

Art installations in general: installations@burningman.org
Open Fire: fire-art@burningman.org
Flame Effects: flame-effects@burningman.org
Mutant Vehicle Flame Effects: dmv-flame-effects@burningman.org
Pyrotechnics: pyro@burningman.org