So, you’ve decided to bring the kids to Burning Man? Great! It’s not an easy decision, but it may prove to be one of the best field trips you could ever take them on. With a little thought and care, the experience can be more fun for you, your kids, and everyone around you. If you’ve taken your kids camping, you’re already halfway there. Many of these ideas apply to different age ranges, of course, so make your judgments based on your kids’ ages and abilities.
The Black Rock Explorers is a program for Burner kids based on the 10 Principles. Camps and services host educational field trips, events and volunteer opportunities for kids. Explorers earn patches, tokens or pins for things learned, survival skills achieved, good deeds and volunteering. Visit their website and Facebook page.
Anybody under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian aged 21 or older in Black Rock City. Children 12 and under will be admitted for free, but (as of 2015) must have a Kid’s Ticket, which helps us to better understand the composition and diversity of BRC’s citizens. Children ages 13 and older require full-price tickets. Be prepared to show proof of age.
As for survival tips, everything in the Burning Man Survival Guide applies double to kids. Water, food, shade, sunblock, comfortable clothes, and knowing their (and your) limits are all important to being able to enjoy the experience. Read the Guide and trust its suggestions. However, there are a few extra precautions to take with kids. Adults love the lack of structure at Burning Man, but most kids need some structure and security to be comfortable with their surroundings.
To that end, we’ve created a downloadable Family Survival Guide (PDF), which provides helpful information about how to survive and thrive with kids at Burning Man.
Recreational Vehicle (RV) is the term generally used for a motor vehicle or trailer equipped with living space and amenities found in a home. RVs at Burning Man are equally loved and abhorred by participants. They can be very useful on the playa and yet are not without complications that could be hazardous. In order to protect the playa and participants from environmental hazards related to RVs, here are a few easy-to-follow guidelines.
What is nice about an RV?
Protects you during dust storms/rain
You can cook indoors without worrying about dust getting in the food
A shower and toilet
They carry a lot of supplies
What is not-so-nice about an RV?
Expensive to rent (about $2000 for 10 days)
High gas cost (about $150.00 per trip to the gas station)
They sell out quickly — if you are going do it, do it now!
Noisy generators disturb others
Keep you isolated from others. Why bother coming to Burning Man if you are going to spend all your time in your RV?
What to remember when considering an RV
Pre-Playa: Test Your RV Tanks
It is essential that you check underneath your RV for leakage from your potable, gray, and black water tanks. Also check for oil leaks.
Do this before you leave your RV rental site and before you leave for the playa:
Fill your water – check for fresh water leaks
Run your sink – (one minute) check for gray water leaks
Flush your toilet – (a few times) check for black water leaks
Check your caps – potable, grey, and black water caps go missing and sometimes RVs are even rented without them. Caps are easily replaceable at RV or hardware store.
Check for vehicle fluid leaks – If you can, crawl under and inspect the underside of your RV, particularly around the engine compartment and drivetrain to look for wet spots where fluids might be leaking.
As a citizen of Black Rock City, you are responsible for preventing and remediating leaks — not the RV rental site or your camp manager.
On Playa: Tank Leak
Leaking is commonly caused by being overfilled or, worse, a crack in the tank. If you have a leak, here’s what to do:
Stop using it – First of all, stop. Until you fix it, no more showers, toilets or baths.
Contain it – Use a bucket to collect the leaking fluids. If the spill is over one gallon, the amount of contaminated playa is five gallons. If you’ve got a spill, mark off the spill area with cones and get help from Rangers or ESD.
Dig It Up – If all the contaminated playa can fit in a five-gallon bucket, use a shovel to dig up the contaminated playa and dispose of off playa. If the spill affects a playa surface larger than five gallons, call a Ranger or ESD. Leave No Trace.
Fix it – If your spill is due to a crack or some other malfunction, you may have to stop using your RV tanks entirely. If it’s overfilled, get your tank emptied or pumped by United Site Services.
On Playa: Engine Oil Leak
Engine oil leaks are common, especially in older vehicles, and they are bad for the playa. Check under your vehicle; if your engine oil is leaking on the playa, use a drip pan, tarp, rug, plywood, or anything that can be secured to the ground so it catches the oil.
Always: Have a Five-Gallon Bucket Around
For RVs, a five-gallon bucket is very handy on the playa. If you don’t have a bucket, a tarp or a bin might suffice.
When your RV is being serviced, a bucket underneath the tank will capture any residual drips or leaks. If the leak or spill occurs while a tank is being pumped, the vendor will remediate the spill. However, any leaks or spills that happen outside of servicing are still your responsibility. More info here.
If you have a small fuel leak or grey or black water spill and the contaminated playa fits in a five-gallon bucket, you can just dig up the soil and dispose of the bucket off site. If the contaminated playa is greater than what will fit in a five-gallon bucket, you might need help. Call a Black Rock Ranger or ESD’s Hazmat team to help remediate the site. See the guidelines here.
Use your bucket to contain Matter Out Of Place (MOOP) as you clean up your camp. Before you leave Black Rock City, it’s your job to make sure all MOOP (cigarette butts, wood scraps, plastic bottle caps, etc.) is picked up off the playa. Here’s everything you need to know.
Leave No Trace
The Burning Man community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.
One of the nicest things about your RV is the generator. If you have a more modern RV, chances are the generator is behind the driver’s seat and is one of the quietest ones. An Onan generator is, by far, the top-of-the-line generator for low sound emissions.
Use your generator on a daily basis for at least one hour. If you don’t run it once a day, you will take the chance that your battery will run out and you won’t be able to start the RV when you have to go home.
Invest in/borrow a power inverter. During the time you run your generator, attach this power converter to the battery to turn DC to AC. When you turn it off, you can still use the inverter to power the stereo, lights, etc. (The size of the inverter determines how long it gives energy.) In this case, bigger is better.
Don’t leave your generator on for long periods of time. You don’t want to waste gas unnecessarily. Besides, most RV rental places actually charge you for generator time. Usually they allow up to three hours of free generator time, and charge a minimal fee after that.
The sink, toilet and shower
You have a finite supply of water. You need to be more aware of water usage than you may be at home. Your water mileage will vary with the number of people sharing the RV.
Don’t leave the water running while washing your dishes or yourself. Think frugal. Most RVs have a bigger fresh water tank than gray water tank, and if you let the water run, you will fill the gray water tank.
On the subject of toilets:
Even though you have a toilet, you should still alternate with the porta-potties. Only use one-ply RV toilet paper with your RV toilet. Otherwise you may experience problems.
There is no dumping station on site, and you will not be allowed to dump on the playa. The BLM does issue citations for the dumping of gray or black water. RV servicing will be available for a $50 fee for trailers up to 24′ in length and $60 for one gray and one black tank for RVs that are 25′-35′ in length. Each additional tank is $30.
There is no location for scheduling RV servicing appointments. We’ve tried to have a sign-up booth at Playa Info in the past, and it was horribly inefficient and wasted a lot of people’s time. Keeping that in mind, feel free to stop by Playa Info between the hours of 11 am and 1 pm for more information.
Just flag ’em down!
The trucks that service RVs make their rounds between 9 am and 9 pm, and they have an amber flashing light on the top and a big “RV ONLY” sign on the side. The trucks patrol their “zones” in the city all day, and you can flag them down for service as they roam their quadrants, or stop them while they’re in the broader neighborhood and request a local visit. In case of dire emergency/missed opportunity, you can also pedal out to Fire & Services, where you will find a Help Desk and make an appointment (out past the outer road and 6:30).
Make sure that there is someone at your camp to show the driver where to pump AND to pay for the servicing. Keep in mind that the sanitation vendor only accepts cash so plan accordingly. Also, if they can’t get to your rig, they’re not going to be able to service it. Leave a space for the service truck to get to your RV. Pump hoses cannot reach beyond 30 feet.
We also used an outdoor shower to freshen up. You should use the RV shower only every other day. Use unscented baby wipes to keep fresh between showers.
The RV as part of a campsite
RVs in Black Rock City are not the most welcome sight, but they can be used strategically in camp to great effect. During the windstorms, RVs can protect the tents from blowing away. Place your RVs along the internal boundaries of the campsite to protect the common areas from the windstorms. Do not place RVs along main streets, this is your camp’s frontage, it’s like your front porch. Burning Man looks and feels better when participants don’t walk down RV-lined streets. As stated above, when placing RVs be mindful of where generators will be located and how that will affect your neighbors.
Decorate your RV
RVs are much more fun when they become art!
Have fun with the logo (as long as it is reversible)
Decorate it. One of the best RVs someone long ago who wrote some of this copy ever saw was a RV covered in fur (a FUR-V), and one had huge legs (like when the house landed on the wicked witch of the east in the Wizard of Oz). Said someone used bamboo, PVC piping and a parachute to give shade and add some flair.
The Black Rock Desert is a place of extreme weather. While conditions are generally pleasant, you can expect severe wind, lightning, rain, hail, and dust storms at any time during the year, usually with very little warning.
The biggest challenge to any structure, from a small camping tent to an 80-foot-high wooden man, is the force of the wind. Anything you bring out there should be securely attached to the ground for just this reason. Larger structures run the risk of tipping over and crushing someone, and smaller ones like camping tents may be blown miles down the playa, never to be seen again. Keep in mind that 75-mph winds are a common occurrence. In wind like this it is difficult to even stand up on your own two feet. Do everything you can to plan for it accordingly.
Also keep in mind that anything lying around your camp that is not secured down, like garbage, plastic bottles, paper, art or anything else, will get blown downwind when you least expect it. It is your responsibility to take back everything that you bring in, from the largest structure to the smallest bottle cap or cigarette butt. Keeping everything secured means you won’t have to spend hours or days searching for it later.
A large number of people camp in their tents at Burning Man. If you are going to be setting up a tent, have a look at the stakes that came with it. These are usually small and made of lightweight aluminum or plastic, designed for backpacking, trading off strength for weight. Since you probably won’t be carrying the load on your back, go out and buy a few of those foot-long plastic or metal stakes they sell for larger tents. Also, for the same price, you can use rebar stakes, a much better idea, described below.
If you are going to be using the small stakes that came with the tent, at least be sure to keep something large and heavy in your tent when you’re not there, like a loaded ice chest. You don’t want to be searching for your tent 20 miles downwind.
A popular, practical and safe way for securing your camp structures is by using long lag bolts. Lag bolts are essentially large screws that will hold very well when they go deep enough in the playa. Around the playa you’ll find lots of folks using 12-14 inch lag bolts to secure their shade structure, carports, tarps, and anything else that they worry about blowing away. Plus, they are much, much, much safer than rebar because they sit flush with the Playa, so there is nothing for you to trip over.
To secure any pole, you can secure a ratchet strap at the top of the pole, run it to the bottom of the pole, then pass the lag bolt through either the other end of the ratchet strap or add a 2-3 link heavy chain to secure the bolt. You can hook the chain to the ratchet, which has a hook at the end, then use a large washer (if needed) to keep the bolt from going all the way through the chain link. You may be able to fit the bolt through a chain link tightly enough that you don’t need washers, but washers add that little bit of extra security.
Then, using a drill driver or impact hammer, drive the bolt into the playa. This holds incredibly well. Some folks set the end of the ratchet straps about 3 feet out from the base, but some helpful burner shared that it would be just as safe attaching it at the base of the pole without the tripping hazard. Place bolts at each outside pole of your structure and if needed, some of the inside poles. Bolts are easy to remove as well, easier than rebar, in about a half second!
This is just one way to use lag bolts. You can also use shorter bolts (8-10 inches) to secure your flooring around the camp, if you need it.
You can buy up to 8″-10″ lag bolts at most large hardware stores, but you may have to special order the larger ones.
Another way to stake your structure is to use rebar, definitely old-school Burning Man. It is usually sold in 20′ lengths, with a number representing its diameter in eighths of an inch. The most common and useful size is #4 (which means 4/8″or half an inch in diameter).
If you already have easy access to a metal chop saw or bandsaw, (or if you feel like a good workout,a hacksaw) you can save a couple of bucks by going to a construction supply warehouse or scrap metal yard and buy the rebar in full 20 foot sections. They will usually cut it in half for you for free so you can get it in your car.
For those of you without a means of cutting metal, there is a much simpler way: Go to your local friendly Home Club Enormart Depot, and buy it pre-cut in 3 foot lengths, for about six bucks apiece (same price as tent stakes). You could have saved a couple of bucks the other way, but this is much easier for most.
At this point you have an excellent stake, but also a real hazard, as the end sticking out of the ground is surprisingly sharp and dangerous to naked and unaware feet. A large amount of injuries at Burning Man are due to just this reason. So instead of putting holes in people’s feet, you’re better off capping the end somehow to keep people from stepping on it. A cheap way to do this is to use old 1 or 2 liter plastic soda bottles or tennis balls stuck upside down over the end, but you can also pick up mushroom-shaped plastic caps, made specifically for this purpose at construction supply houses. But neither of these options is particularly attractive.
There is a better way!
Professor Flubber’s Patented Kandy-Kane Rebar Method!
It’s easier than you think!
This is an excellent way of making sure no one impales themselves, and if you’re using guidelines for your structure, this will guarantee that the rope won’t slip off the end of the rebar. It also makes it much easier to pull your stakes out when you leave. You just use an extra stake as a handy hook and yank the other stakes out of the ground.
What you need is your three-foot lengths of rebar, and two long pieces of steel pipe to slip over the end, 4 feet long at least, the longer the better. Place one pipe on the ground and brace the far end against your house or anything else vertical and solid. Slip your rebar stake into the pipe so that about 4-6 inches are sticking out of the end. Take the other pipe and put this over the short end of the rebar that’s sticking out, and crank the thing over until you have made a candy-cane out of your stake. This doesn’t take any more time than searching for liter plastic soda bottles, and is a stronger, safer, and much easier way of doing things.
Whatever you do, remember to bring a small sledgehammer to pound the rebar into the ground. A regular claw hammer might not do it. And there are no handy rocks on the Black Rock Desert to pound things in with.
If you’re planning anything tall and vertical and are using guy lines to keep it from tipping over, you might be shocked at the price of decent ropes or cable when you go to the hardware store. 80 cents a foot doesn’t sound like much but if you need 200 feet, it adds up.
A good option for larger structures is used climbing rope – it is unbelievably strong and has a small amount of stretch to it, which helps a tiny bit in sudden wind gusts. Purchased new, it is very expensive. But regular climbers often ditch their used ropes after a short time for safety reasons, and if you call some climbing gyms or put up a notice at a mountaineering store, you may be able to get a cheap or free deal on a 150′ coil. The common sizes are in the 9-11mm range, all are plenty strong for securing most structures, and they hold knots very well. When you cut the rope to the length you want, take a lighter and melt the end down a bit, this will keep it from unraveling.
If you get your rope from a hardware store, try to avoid that slick stiff yellow stuff, which is by far the cheapest and fairly strong for most purposes, but doesn’t hold knots worth a damn.
Any structure designed as an elevated viewing area should be considered carefully. How many people can it hold and how will you police it? Railings are required to be well designed and built; how will you accomplish that? If someone climbs up onto it, how do they exit without causing a traffic jam? Since you cannot dig holes in the playa you will have to use cable to secure your structure. Do you know what gauge cable is best for your needs? If you have not fully considered all aspects of your plan from a structural engineering perspective, you have more research to do.
For more Burning Man Shade Structure resources please visit:
Day-to-day life on the playa is tricky, but it’s beautiful. It breaks the routines of civilization and makes us re-learn fundamental skills. Here are some basic guides to the many aspects of playa living.
Weather on the playa is often violent and unpredictable. Dust storms, high winds, freezing temperatures, rain, we get it all out there. It’s impossible to be overly prepared when it comes to the elements.
Here’s more weather information than you want to know, whether you need it or not!
The Weather Underground for Gerlach A good weather page that provides current weather, 3-day forecast, plus extended forecast for Gerlach, Nevada (or any other city in the U.S.). Gerlach is to be the closest city to the Burning Man site with a local weather forecast available.
National Weather Service’s Nevada Page Also provides current weather plus three day forecast for all Nevada cities that track local weather. Highlight the city of choice (Gerlach), click, and you’re there.
Make sure you carry your particle/dust mask and goggles with you when you venture out on playa! The Black Rock Desert can be subject to sudden bouts of fierce, unpredictable weather, and the playa’s alkali, chalky surface can kick up at any time (the playa contains alkaline gypsum and silica dust, which can be tough on the lungs). Cars, mutant vehicles, bikes and regular old foot traffic can make dust swirl around in a flash, so you’ll be thankful you’ve got your mask with you!
Dust storms prowl the playa and can produce instant whiteouts too. The desert wind can whip up to speeds exceeding 75 mph in an instant, picking up everything and hurling it miles down the playa or smack into your neighbor — tents, chairs, card tables, ice chests, you name it. Prolonged whiteout conditions are unlikely, but you should be mentally and physically prepared for such occurrences. If you’re caught in a whiteout:
When the wind comes, seek immediate shelter. Now’s the time to use that dust mask and goggles you brought.
If you’re far from shelter, sit down, turn your back to the wind, cover your face, and wait it out.
Be alert for moving vehicles.
If you are driving a vehicle, stop and wait for the whiteout to pass. You will not be able to see where you are going and could injure yourself or others.
Weight the interior corners of your tent. Rebar makes excellent stakes but the ends must be capped or bent into a candy cane shape to prevent foot or leg injuries.
Burning Man is not a festival, it’s an event and a city in the desert. At most festivals you’ll find friends camping together in their cars and tents in what looks like a giant parking lot behind where the main festival activities take place. It’s very different at Burning Man!
Camps are the heart of community in Black Rock City. The majority of people who go to Burning Man are part of planned, registered camps. Open Camping and Walk-In Camping also exists for any individual or group to find a spot for themselves without pre-registering. The main event is everywhere; it’s where people like you contribute interactive, creative, incredible experiences to share with everyone. Camps are organized groups of people doing just that.
Burning Man takes place in Black Rock City, a full-fledged, thriving temporary metropolis. Like any other city, it has essential infrastructure and community services — including city planning, emergency, safety and sanitary infrastructure — to keep it functioning.
These are primarily volunteer-created and run services, and provide just enough structure to support the survival of this civic organism — the rest is up to YOU.
“The Silk Road was the world’s first information superhighway.”
— Jeff Greenwald
For countless centuries, travelers along the Silk Route crossed paths in caravansaries, a network of oases and sanctuaries that dotted the 4,000-mile road from Europe to East Asia. These bustling caravan stops offered more than just shelter from the desert wilderness; they were vital centers of cultural exchange, bringing together traders, pilgrims, monks, nomads, traveling entertainers, and wild-eyed adventurers from all points of the compass to share their stories around a common fire. Though fueled by mercantilism, their legacy to us is a grand commerce of ideas — a swirling exchange of languages, legends, technologies, philosophies and art that helped shape nearly every aspect of our modern world.
“Much travel is needed before the raw man is ripened.”
— Proverb of the Caravan of Dreams
This year we will create a caravansary that occupies the crossroads of a dreamland: a bazaar of the bizarre wherein treasures of every sort, from every land and age, flow in and out to be flaunted, lost, exploited and discovered. This is not a tourist destination, but a home for travelers who come here bearing gifts. Amid the twisting and the turnings of its souk, participants will come upon an inexhaustible array of teeming goods and unexpected services. Anyone may pose as ‘merchant’ here, and anyone may play a ‘customer’, but nothing in this strange emporium shall have a purchase price — no quid, no pro, no quo — no trade at all will be allowed in this ambiguous arcade. According to a rule of desert hospitality, the only thing of value in this ‘marketplace’ will be one’s interaction with a fellow human being.
“Have the nature of a dervish: then wear a stylish cap.”
— Proverb of the Caravan of Dreams
Our desert inn will also be a scene of luxury and cultivated ease. An apron of fine carpets will spread out beneath the shade of portals that surround a courtyard. Here travel-wearied pilgrims may relax, inventing pastimes as they watch the whirling world go by. Workers of great wonders will be welcome here; fakirs, dancers, sadhus, seers and potentates will throng through this performance space, like figures that adorn the fabric of a silk brocade. Finger cymbals, chimes, and music of acoustic instruments will fill the air. By night, bathed in the lambent glow of lanterns gently swaying overhead, fire spinners will perform around the Burning Man. This year’s Man will rise directly from the desert floor and tower many stories high. Its massive torso will evoke a tiered pagoda; its ornate head will be a lamp that welcomes people home.
“Our history will be spread abroad by caravans.”
— The Thousand and One Nights
Like the ancient Silk Route, Burning Man’s communities are also spread worldwide. They form a network stretching all the way from Italy to South Korea, from Lithuania to Brazil. In 2014, we will invite these groups to help create a real-life caravansary that represents their varied cultures. As always, any work of art by anyone, regardless of our theme, is also welcome at the Burning Man event. If you are planning to do fire art or wish to install a work of art on the open playa, please see our Art Guidelines for more information. To apply for a grant to fund the creation of artwork for Burning Man 2014, please see our art grant guidelines.
“If you have no troubles, then why not buy a goat?”
— Proverb of the Caravan of Dreams
The people who make up Black Rock City are not simply “attendees,” but rather active participants in every sense of the word: they create the city, the interaction, the art, the performance and ultimately the experience that is Burning Man. Your participation is a gift given to the larger community for everyone’s benefit.
Participation is at the very core of Burning Man — it’s one of our 10 Principles — and the only limits (other than basic public safety) are the bounds of your imagination.
Getting ready for Burning Man is half the fun. Planning a camp, creating art projects, and getting funky gear together is a blast, as we all know. The more logistical side of preparing for the event can be just as creative, but there’s a lot of information to familiarize yourself with first.
Burning Man is an exercise in Radical Self-reliance. A little forethought and planning goes a long way!
“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players…”
— William Shakespeare
Each and everyone of us is a player performing on the playa. Burning Man casts all of us at every moment in a heady series of unstaged productions. As one walks or bikes the streets of Black Rock City and out on the open playa, people will be found shining with their talent, every moment of the day and night.
Where’s the Main Stage?
At one point in our history Burning Man did have a Main Stage, but it created a division between audience and performer. In short, large stages promote spectating — and we are all about participation. Black Rock City is the stage: things are happening all over the place 24 hours a day, and we are all participants in this grand performance.
As there is no Main Stage at Burning Man, find your audience on a smaller, more intimate scale. Maybe you have something special in mind, a talent or a skill to contribute? You may be a juggler or a musician or a fire dancer, or perhaps a costume or theatrical designer. At Burning Man, you’ll find your audience!
Are you an artist looking for a stage? Check out Spark, where you can connect with the Burning Man community and post a listing about what you do, and what you’re looking for to make your creative dream a reality.
Your theme camp should create an ambiance, a visual presence, in some way provide a communal space or provide activity. It may be the anchor for a larger event taking place. The best camps succeed by simplicity. Concepts that are too big, like scholarly attempts to debunk complex social theory or Titanic-length storytelling arcs, will die from disinterest. For more information visit Theme Camps. Please note that new and improved sound restriction will apply.
Fire performers are like the celestial fireflies of the playa, and Black Rock City is a perfect environment to play with fire. Official Burning Man fire celebrations and fire dancing all week long lead up to Saturday night when the Fire Conclave creates the Ring of Light before the Man is released in pyrotechnic delight. We welcome fire performers from all over the world — for more information on how to get involved visit Fire Conclave.
Every day of the event, as the sun sets, the Lamplighters set out to light the streets of Black Rock City. They request the participation of drummers, musicians, and performers of all types to accompany their processions through the city. The walk takes about an hour, is done every evening, and is made infinitely more ceremonious and special with performers joining along, all are welcome. For more information visit The Lamplighters or email email@example.com.
The Drummers Collective exists as a clearinghouse and contact point for drummers who wish to contribute their art to Burning Man by providing music for performances on the playa and at Burning Man events year round. One example is the Ambient Drummers, which assembles ~200 drummers for a powerful drum rhythm to accompany the Fire Conclave as they dance before the Man is burned on Saturday night.
Once a year, tens of thousands of people gather in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert to create Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. In this crucible of creativity, all are welcome.
Practicing a Leave No Trace Ethic is simple: leave the place you visit the same or better than you found it; leave no trace of your having been there, so that others – human and animal – can enjoy the land the rest of the year.
Tips and Hints
1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
For each item that you’re bringing to the playa, think through how you’re going to dispose of it. Have your camp tear-down well planned and practiced. Plan to send trash off the playa with campmates as they leave the event.
2. Reduce Packaging
Bringing less in means having less to haul out. Leave unnecessary packaging at home. Food often comes in layers of plastic and cardboard, but also cast a critical eye toward the toys and camping gear you’re bringing. Unpacking them before arriving on the playa spares you the hassle of bringing back styrofoam packing and shrinkwrap. Choose aluminum cans over bottles, and reusable containers over either of those. Read more in our Trash and Recycling section.
3. Rethink Your Food Portions
Prepare food in sensible quantities your group can finish at a single sitting — leftovers quickly become a liability. Coordinate with your campmates as far as what you’re bringing to minimize waste. If you’ve found yourself with a giant pot of chili and not enough campmates, invite neighbors over to finish it off. It beats creating a wet, heavy bag of trash that has to be packed into someone’s trunk.
4. Don’t Rush Packing and Departure
Don’t stress to hurry home. Long-term exposure to the playa will fatigue your body and impair decision-making. Also, when under pressure, we are all likely to make rushed decisions, miss details and leave things behind. If half of your campmates will have left already by Sunday, the folks left behind are going to have a lot more work to do. If someone has to catch a plane, make sure to start packing up even earlier than you think you have to, so that you aren’t tempted to leave before fully clearing your site.
5. MOOP Sweeps
As you’re packing your camp, have campmates walk repeatedly around your site picking up anything and everything that’s not part of the playa. Doing this periodically, through the week, will make it easier.
6. Do Not Use the Playa as Your Toilet
It’s unacceptable, unsanitary, and just plain gross the morning after.
7. Take Your Bikes Home
Do not leave behind your old bikes behind for us. We still have to dispose of them if you don’t, and it’s an expensive and time-consuming effort.
8. Be Aware of Very Small Items
No Trace really does mean no trace. Be conscious of spare nails or smaller trash particles that may be dismissed as too small for trash including: hair, matches, cigarette butts, feathers, zip ties. Remember food waste such as peanut shells, orange peels and egg shells are also trash. While you’re walking around the playa, make an effort to pocket all trash, including cigarette butts, and then empty your pockets into a trash bag later. After you pick up your trash to carry home, do a last-minute check of your site for cigarette butts, gum wrappers, etc. because many of those will be hidden under tarps, tents and vehicles.
9. Do Not Pour Leftover Gas on the Playa
This is toxic! You wouldn’t do this in your backyard, so don’t do it in ours.
10. Minimize Fire Impacts
Deserts like Black Rock are susceptible to burn scars which last a long time and are not easily cleared. Avoid creating a burn scar by not burning directly on the ground. Use a raised fire pit, or use fire shields to protect playa surface. Keep in mind that most non-natural materials (rugs, polyester, plastic, treated wood) are toxic when burned.
11. Minimize Playa Scars
Never ditch or build trenches around your tent because they can start soil erosion and create lasting scars. Make an effort to restore holes dug for tent stakes and anchors.
12. Do Not Take Artifacts
Artifacts should be turned into the Lost and Found in Center Camp with an EXACT location of where it was discovered. Many historical and archeological sites are found throughout Bureau of Land Management areas. Federal law prohibits disturbing historical and archeological sites or removing any objects from them.
13. Respect Wildlife
Do not harass wildlife. Remember, Burning Man is not a place for dogs or other pets. If you bring a pet to the playa outside of the Burning Man event, make certain to remove their waste just as you would your own.
Frequently Asked Questions 1. Do I have to take my trash all the way home? Not at all! There are several trash dumps and recycling facilities in the Reno area who will process your trash, cheaply and easily. Check their schedules and rates ahead of time, and put printed information in your car or truck before you leave home.
2. Where shouldn’t I leave my trash? It’s unfair to make someone else clean up after your party! Please do not dump your trash along the highways where locals or highway cleanup crews will have to deal with it. Do not leave trash at local businesses or road side rest stops – they have to pay for trash disposal and shouldn’t have to accommodate yours. This includes restaurant dumpsters, hotels, gas stations, or anywhere else that is private property. Do not leave your bags of trash on the playa either; the volunteers who stay to break down the city have more than enough to do already.
3. Why not just throw stuff into the Potties? If it wasn’t in your body, don’t put it in the potty. Items that aren’t human waste or single-ply toilet paper have a nasty tendency to clog up the machines that are used to clean the potties. When that happens, someone who’s actually working while we’re playing has to get in there and fish it out. Aside from being a lousy thing to make another person do, it means potties out of commission and not being cleaned for that much longer. And none of us want that!
4. Can I cook on a campfire? Campfires are not allowed at Burning Man, and that’s good because they erode the land. In fragile environments such as deserts, fire leaves scars for many years and depletes wood supplies. Modern backpacking stoves are economical and lightweight and provide fast, clean cooking. You can get camp stoves here.
5. Can I burn my trash? You can burn selected items at pre-approved burn platforms. These areas are indicated on your playa map. A lot of things that might seem safe to burn can actually be toxic – they release really nasty chemicals that might or might not be visible, but which will definitely do harm to you and others. Check the burn page in the environment for more detailed guidelines.
Want more ideas for your clean-up plan? Interested in the ethics and principles behind Leave No Trace? Check out these great links:
Leaving No Trace is arguably Burning Man’s most important Principle. If we don’t uphold that one, no more Black Rock City. But Leaving No Trace is not just about the playa; it’s our ethic about the whole planet. Burners are environmentalists. It’s just our nature.
This section contains detailed guidelines and tips about how to leave no trace on the playa.
Last Year’s MOOP Map
Each year, the Playa Restoration Team makes a map of the Matter Out of Place (MOOP) left in Black Rock City after the event. (Read more about the 2022 MOOP map in the Burning Man Journal.)
You may be parched, famished, and you might be sick of driving. Salt Lake City lies about 500 miles to the east; and Black Rock City is another 150 miles to the west. Yes, you’re almost there, but you still got a ways to go.
Set on the western edge of “Cowboy Country,” Lovelock is your only pit stop on I-80 for another 60 miles before you hit Fernley, so you may want to fill up on some gas, maybe grab a bed, a shower and some food, and even load up on many of the supplies to be found here at the local enterprises who enjoy our company and know our needs.
Why Stop in Lovelock
Well, the few reasons to stop are obvious — you need gas, food, some Lock Love, or one last shower before hitting Burning Man.
But another, really good reason is that Lovelock is the seat of Pershing County — the same county where Burning Man takes place — and therefore the town is an important and close neighbor to Black Rock City. If you have some time, stop in Lovelock, visit the sights there or nearby, and enjoy some of the local restaurants. Show them some love. Lovelock is by-and-large a somewhat conservative agricultural, mining, and services community of 2400 people — but they are increasingly coming to love us and our arts and culture. So please remember that we are all Black Rock City diplomats and be respectful of and kind to our close neighbors.
And of special note to Lovelock’s and Burning Man’s growing relationship, major solar arrays have been installed at the Lovelock Elementary and High School, and at the Pershing County General Hospital by Black Rock Solar!
There are three exits for Lovelock on Interstate 80 two in each direction of travel. Westbound exit 107 then exit 106, eastbound exit 105 then exit 106. Cornell Ave parallels I-80 and exits 107 and 105 can be reached from Cornell. Exit 106 allows access to Main Street which intersects with Cornell at the only stoplight in Lovelock. In either direction exit 106 would be the “last chance” exit. Note: I-80 actually is North (eastbound) and South (westbound) through town.
In terms of bearings, C–Punch is on the east side of town. Golden Gate Truck Stop and the Safeway are at or near the town’s center. Most of the businesses in the town can be found along the main stretch through town, which is Cornell Avenue; on Dartmouth and Broadway Streets, parallel to Cornell on either side; and on Main Street, which straddles all three of these streets and forms the town center.
Worth Checking Out
Lovelock’s historic round courthouse (400 Main Street) is said to be the only one of its kind in the nation still functioning as a courthouse, built in 1920-21 by Frederic Joseph DeLongchamps.
There is also a really kind of cool activity to be found here for people in marriage or other partnerships: You can “Lock your Love” in the park next to the courthouse. A nice ritual for those so inclined, you just bring/buy a lock and “Lock Your Love” onto a fence designated for such purposes. It’s free beyond the price you pay for the lock and the infinite value of your love.
You also might want to check out the Marzen House Pershing County Museum — formerly the showplace and home of a wealthy rancher, now restored and chock full of nifty artifacts from Lovelock’s early days.
And, finally, where did the name come from?! Lovelock is named for George Lovelock, a Welsh immigrant who, in 1867, donated eighty-five acres for a town site and right-of-way for the transcontinental railroad and railway depot. And love stories have gathered there ever since…
For further information on Lovelock and the environs, here are some helpful links:
Tufa rock formations are a sight to behold. These intricately textured shapes of towers, ledges, pillars and archways were geologically formed by algae in nearby prehistoric Lake Lahontan in the same way that blue-algae forms coral reefs. From downtown Lovelock drive north on Central Ave. Turn left on to Pitt Rd. and travel two and a half miles to an unmarked gravel road and then turn right. Drive slightly over a mile until you see the Tufa formations.
Lovelock Indian Cave, aka Bat Cave or Sunset Guano Cave is a limestone cavern, created by the waters of prehistoric Lake Lahontan. Home to indigenous peoples as far back as 2000 B.C., the oldest dated duck decoys in North America (1,250 to 1,980 years ago) were discovered here. It’s 160 feet wide by 40 feet deep. From Main St. in Lovelock go south on Amherst Ave., which turns into S.R. 397. Continue south until 397 dead ends into Derby Rd. Turn left and go east on Derby Rd. Eventually the road will turn right and go south. Shortly thereafter turn right on East Rd. Continue until this road dead ends at the cave.
A great place to stay is Rye Patch State Recreation Area: camping, picnic areas, hiking and water sports. Located 22 miles east of Lovelock off I-80, (775) 538-7321. Also in Rye Patch is the Gold Diggers’ Saloon. Burner friendly, the Saloon sports a very good selection of beers and a photo gallery on the wall. 2210 Rye Patch reservoir Road, Exit 129, 22 miles east of Lovelock, (775) 538-7000.
Chief Rolling Mountain Thunder Memorial: Feast your eyes on another fine roadside example of radical self-expression replete with statues of naked women and concrete totems. Created by Chief Thunder over a period of twenty years beginning in 1968, it is considered Nevada’s equivalent to the Watts Towers. He meant it as a tribute to Native Americans. Its main feature is a three-story house, composed of concrete, bottles, and assorted treasures retrieved from a nearby junkyard.
Located across the freeway from Imlay, about halfway between Lovelock and Winnemucca. Access is free, donations accepted for a volunteer effort to save the site from crumbling away.
Check out the Ghost town of Unionville, a mining boom town in the 1860’s with upwards of 1500 fortune seekers including reputedly, Mark Twain. Nestled in a region of mesmerizing high desert mountain ranges and remote valleys is a B&B—the Old Pioneer Garden Country Inn. 2805 Unionville Rd, Unionville, NV 89418 (775) 538-7585 or (800) 538-7556. Located on State highway 400, off I-80 about halfway between Lovelock and Winnemucca.