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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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!

Emergency Services Department

Black Rock City’s Emergency Services Department (ESD) is available before the event officially starts, and is on duty until the last participant leaves. ESD provides fire protection, medical evaluation and treatment, mental health services, an Emergency 911 Dispatch facility, and the communications infrastructure for Black Rock City.

The ESD is a separate department from the Black Rock Rangers, who are Burning Man’s non-confrontational mediating entities.

In Black Rock City you can find ESD stations on 3:00 and 9:00 at the intersection just beyond the plazas, and at Center Camp at 6:00.

For more information, please email 911(at)burningman(dot)com.

Health and Safety

Stay healthy and safe while you camp and explore the many opportunities for participation at Burning Man! This section will give you the information you need to keep yourself healthy, and tell you where to find emergency services, should you need them.

Consent is sexy! Visit the Bureau of Erotic Discourse to learn more.

Remember radical self-reliance! Bring a first aid kit and any medications you may need (the closest pharmacies are in Fernley or Reno, and there is no clinic in Gerlach).

Should your illness or injury be more severe than you can manage without help, there are Emergency Services medical stations on the 3:00 and 9:00 plazas, on the Esplanade at 5:15, and new stations on the plazas at 4:30 and 7:30, and out between the Man and the Temple. All stations are identifiable by a red cross on top of the buildings. The stations are staffed by emergency health care providers (doctors, nurses, medics, etc.) who donate their time and medical expertise to the city as their gift to us all.

Bringing fuel or other hazardous materials? Read the guidelines for fuel and hazmat storage.

If you require a higher level of care than cannot be provided on the playa, you will need to visit a hospital in Reno, either by getting a ride from a friend, or being transported by an ambulance, plane, or helicopter (depending on your condition). If you are able, request to sign a “Consent to Release Information” form so we can tell your friends and family where you are and what happened (by law, we can’t provide information about you without your consent). Bring your ID, insurance card, cell phone, and wallet when you go. If you get transported by ambulance, plane, or helicopter, you’ll need to arrange for a friend to pick you up after your care. There are no shuttles from the hospitals back to the playa.

Getting Out: Exodus

Q. Why does it sometimes take so long to get out of Burning Man? What can be done to make it better?
A. Here’s the dealio:  There are a finite number of vehicles that can get out of Burning Man and onto Highway 34 per hour. This is a fixed number, and probably won’t change any time in the near future. In our current configuration, the ONLY THING that can make the wait shorter is to have fewer vehicles leave BRC at the same time (i.e., people spread out their departures and leave at off-peak times).

When most people try to leave BRC on the same day, it creates long lines to get off the playa. This usually occurs when the weather is great or the Temple is awesome.

We most often see this on Monday of Exodus, though this doesn’t happen every year. It tends to go in a biennial cycle….a great year followed by a bad year, followed by a great year, followed by…you get the point.

Reducing the overall number of vehicles by carpooling and Burner Express, along with spreading out departures, are the best ways to achieve shorter lines for Exodus. Eager to beat the rush? Leave before the Man burn. Have some extra time for MOOPing? Leave Tuesday morning.

Make a departure plan for your camp, whether you are a camp of just a few people or a few hundred. Create an internal schedule that spreads out the departures of each vehicle over multiple days and times, especially during non-peak times if possible.

Above all, keep that playa vibe with you! Pack water, snacks, instruments and anything else to make the wait more fun. Have a one hour dance party and meet your neighbors in line. Consider a designated driver just for Exodus so you start the drive on the highway fresh.

Q. When is the best time to leave if I want to avoid the line?
A. Every year is a little different, and some years are so unpredictably different that we hesitate to make a solid suggestion. While Sunday and Monday afternoons used to be the busiest times, we have seen some of the heaviest traffic in recent years in the late night after the Burns. If you really want to avoid the line, leave on a day other than Sunday or Monday.

So how do you pick a time? Listen to the community. If everyone you talk to says they are staying to watch the Temple burn on Sunday night, then Monday is going to have very long wait times. If there is a major storm predicted for the weekend (as was the case in 2010), then a bunch of people will probably leave on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Tune into BMIR 94.5 FM for wait time updates at the top of every hour beginning Saturday.

Q. What is this Pulsing thing I keep hearing about?
A. Pulsing is a system of moving vehicles at regular intervals toward the highway on Gate Road to avoid the long slow creep forward that challenges the sanity of even the most patient among us.

With Pulsing, vehicles are allowed to stop and turn off their engines (from 15 minutes to about an hour depending on how close you are to the front), then are “pulsed” forward all at once. We generally implement Pulsing during the peak driving hours on Sunday and Monday.

The explanation as to how it specifically operates gets technical, but if you are interested in how we make it work, see HERE.

Q. Does Pulsing get me out quicker?
A. Nope! The length of time it takes to get out is dictated by the number of cars and the carrying capacity of Highway 34. Pulsing does nothing to affect either of those factors.

Pulsing does accomplish two objectives:

  1. It makes Exodus more enjoyable for the masses since they are allowed to take a break and mingle with their neighbors during stopped periods. Instead of creeping along, you get to stop for an hour at a time and create ONE HOUR NEIGHBORHOODS! (See a participant’s explanation of this idea HERE.)
  2. It saves fuel.

Q. What are you doing about lane changing during Exodus, and unfairness along Gate Road?
A. On Fairness:  We work very, very hard to set up fair systems on Gate Road and back into BRC. We use mathematical modeling to ensure merge fairness, load balancing, and system stability. And 95% of the time, things work as planned. Occasionally something weird happens:

  • A vehicle breaks down and instead of traffic deciding to go around the vehicle, they merge with the lane next to them.  BAD!
  • Someone moves some cones and starts an unauthorized merge.  BAD!
  • Someone gets out of their vehicle and tries to set up a system that they think/feel is fair.  BAD!

We try to enforce the system with signage. We constantly monitor traffic patterns for irregularities. We quickly remedy problems. But we cannot be everywhere at once, and well-intentioned people sometimes subvert our systems.

On Lane Changing:  Years and years of driving experience tells drivers to change into the lane that is moving faster or is open. And in a normal traffic system, this is what you want drivers to do to ensure system balance. Unfortunately, on Gate Road when a vehicle is stopped and the line behind is not going around them, people from adjacent lanes fill the void left in front of the stopped vehicle.
So what can you do?

  1. Use all available lanes on Gate Road until you hit the back-up. If you see that there are 8 lanes (which there are), but see only 6 lines of cars and 2 lanes completely open, USE THEM. All lanes on Gate Road during Exodus are outbound lanes, always, always, always.
  2. Once you are in the 8-lane-wide back-up, if the vehicle in front of you is stopped or broken down, and traffic in front of it has moved on in a Pulse, go around the stopped vehicle. Do not change lanes! Do not merge into the lane next to you. Go around the stopped vehicle, and stay in your same lane.
  3. If a lane is open next to you because a vehicle is stopped or broken down, despite your inclination, do not fill into it unless an Exodus staff member directs you to. That open space is for the people behind the stopped vehicle! If you merge into an open lane in the back-up, you are making the system unfair and are being a jerk.
  4. Ultimately we must rely on the community to police itself and ensure their fellow participants are respecting the process. If you see people cheating the system, say something! There is no way for us to monitor all of Gate Road for lane changing…nor do we want to be the traffic police. YOU can help make it fair by informing people about the process and making sure they follow it.

Q. Why can’t you guys just make another exit so we don’t have to wait so long?
A. The answer is simple…all roads lead to the same two-lane Nevada Highway 34/447. All that traffic still has to merge somewhere. Having more exits would not affect how many cars can travel on the one lane out of town, and therefore it would not make your trip faster. It would also be more dangerous to have the merge on the highway when it is not under the control of our Flaggers and staff. Our stipulations with the BLM dictate what the entry/exit point is, and they only allow for one.

Q. Can you allocate a different exit for people going north on Highway 34, and also for people heading north on Highway 447?
A. Currently there is only one BLM authorized exit off the playa. No other exits are allowed by our stipulations. The logistics and staffing requirements to implement an alternative exit for folks headed north on Highway 34 would cost us more than the benefit realized; an extremely small percentage of traffic leaves via 34 North. Our energy and resources will have a greater positive effect on a greater number of people if we focus them on other issues.

Additionally, if we could create a Highway 34 Northbound exit, we run the risk of people abusing it by starting up 34 North, making a U-turn, then heading south. The incentive for them to be dishonest would be large (they would skip the entire Exodus line) and it would actually slow down the Exodus for everyone else because we would have to stop all cars leaving Gate Road to allow them to pass through on Highway 34 South. Folks intending to go Highway 447 North toward Cedarville, Oregon and Washington still have to use Highway 34 like everyone else. There is no benefit to the system in letting them out before anyone else, because they have to share Highway 34 with the rest of the traffic once off-playa (if only to Gerlach, but still the same road).

Q. Why can’t you use both lanes (both directions) on 34 to speed things up?
A. If we used both sides of Highway 34, there would be no way to get vehicles (especially emergency vehicles) from Gerlach to Black Rock City (and to points north of BRC). Besides, those two lanes would need to merge to one at some point (we can’t run side-by-side all the way to Reno!), which puts us right back to where we started. It wouldn’t save time…it would just move where the final merge happens. Remember, there are local residents in the area who still need these roads. It isn’t all about Burning Man!

Q. Is there any way to speed up how fast vehicles get on to the highway?
A. There are a few. The best way is to have positive control of the intersection of the gravel top of Gate Road and Highway 34. We control that intersection on Sunday and Monday with Nevada-certified Highway Flaggers. With their stop/slow paddles, they make it possible for vehicles to enter the highway without stopping to check if it is clear…it is always clear because Flaggers stop all other traffic.

The second way is to run two lanes of traffic right up to the edge of the highway, then quickly alternate them out onto the highway. We do this about 50% of the time…if we did it 100% of the time, we would exceed the carrying capacity of the highway. The speed limit through Gerlach is 25 mph, so if we allowed vehicles to exit the playa more quickly the resulting backups would move from the playa into town, and that could lead to additional traffic issues. This would be bad.

Q. You should set up a system where people can register for a departure time and give them an “express” lane (or some version of a priority/regulated system). Those who miss their window or don’t register would have to wait longer.
A. This suggestion has made its way to us every year for many, many years now. And on the surface it looks very attractive. But, as is usually the case, the devil is in the details. Here are the primary reasons we have not implemented a reservation-based Exodus system:

  • Such a system takes a lot of people power (e.g., people to verify departure times, people to direct traffic, people to enforce the system) and a lot of resources (e.g. a registration system, building secure lanes for five miles of Gate Road that would prevent people from jumping into the wrong section); more than we currently have.
  • Verifying registration would require slowing traffic before Gate Road, which will in turn slow down the rate at which people can get onto Gate Road. Without a significant redesign, traffic inside BRC could become gridlocked.
  • One thing we have learned about Burning Man is people rarely stick to their intended timeline. Camp clean up took longer than planned, you stayed up really late the night before, it took a while to track down your passengers, you couldn’t find your car keys, you just had to visit the ashes of the Man one more time, or myriad other possibilities that are so very common to the Burning Man experience. To get 70,000 people to stick to a specific window of time may very well be the most difficult part of this idea to solve.
  • Another thing our Gate experience tells us is that verifying Exodus registrations and enforcing rules will not be a simple process. We will no doubt hear many stories (traffic to get from my camp at 2:00 was worse than I thought, but I really did leave in time! My campmate burned my registration slip in an offering to the Man but this really is my time window! I have a flight that leaves in a few hours, please I need to get out faster!). Each vehicle that pleads their case in turn holds up traffic for everyone else, and this ultimately will cause significant inefficiencies in the system.
  • Remember how we said this type of system would require a lot more people power? Despite our calls for help from the community, we continue to struggle to find enough people to manage the bare basics of Exodus (e.g. highway flaggers). We understand most people are tired by the end of the event, and many need to get home. However, in order for us to continue to evolve the Exodus process, we need YOUR help. We need volunteers to help run all parts of this process. Everything that happens in BRC is created entirely by its citizens, including Exodus.

Some of the above issues could be overcome, but taken all together a system like this in an environment like Burning Man would be complex and expensive to implement and considerably more difficult to run efficiently. We will continue to look at options and consider your feedback.

Q. What happens if I just decide to head across the playa and find my own exit?
A. Any vehicles found outside the perimeter of BRC or Gate Road are in violation of the Event Closure Area. Closure Area violations are ticketed by the BLM. They really are out there watching and you will be ticketed. Then you will be returned to the back of the Exodus line. Sounds fun, right? Also, some areas of the playa are thick mud hidden by a seemingly dry surface. Every year vehicles get stuck in that muck trying to escape the line. We laugh and point at the cheaters.

Q. You need to have more people out there during Exodus! Are you guys too busy partying or did you already catch an airplane ride out? (we’ve gotten some snarky feedback over the years, so it seems you want to know about staffing issues)
A. Oh yeah? Well… come on out and join us as a volunteer! Or did you party too hard during the week to come help with Exodus?

All snarkiness aside, staffing during Exodus is a major challenge for us. And it is for the reasons you are thinking. It’s the end of the event. Everyone is exhausted and just wants to go home and take a shower. No one wants to stand out in the sun and the dust. And yet, Exodus can’t run without volunteers. So, sign up and come out. It’s actually quite a fun job with a great crew.

The Exodus & Traffic group is actually one part of the larger Gate, Perimeter and Exodus/Traffic department. It’s managed by the same crew that has been out on the playa for weeks, running a 24-hour operation. So no, we were not partying.

Q. The road out during Exodus was really bumpy. What’s the deal?
A. That’s what happens to the playa when thousands of vehicles drive on it, especially at speeds over 10 mph. We do try to maintain the surface with watering, but watering has its limit. The slower you drive coming into and going out of the event, the less Gate Road is torn up.

Q. What can be done about all of the dangerous lane passing on the highway?
A. We do a lot to educate people of the dangers of passing on Highway 447. And we refuse to believe people who are doing the passing do not know it’s dangerous. They know. They have to. All we can do is keep telling people. Maybe next year we will print a billboard with the image of one of the terrible accidents that occurred on Highway 447 after the event, as a graphic reminder to those who would risk everything to get to Reno 10 seconds earlier. Do you think it would work?

Q. Is there a place I can dump my trash on the way home?
A. There are many authorized locations that will happily take your trash and recycling for you. See HERE!

As tempting as it may seem, you may not dump your trash in privately-owned dumpsters or dumpsters at stores and commercial centers. Every year we get complaints from local citizens about this issue. And if you dump your trash on the side of the highway you are ultimately making others in your community clean up after you, and that is truly unprincipled and lame.

Q. Why do I see trash along the side of the highway after the event?
A. We encourage participants to secure their loads properly. Many do. A small percentage do not. And a small percentage of 30,000+ vehicles is still a lot. Please act responsibly and make sure to pack your loads, including trash, securely!

Black Rock Country

Black Rock country is truly one of the most fascinating landscapes in North America. Nestled between the western edge of the Basin and Range Province, the Black Rock Desert forms a unique assemblage of volcanic lava flows, ash, ancient shallow marine sea floor, exotic batholithic terrain, and lacustral sedimentary packages.

Within the Black Rock, the most striking and prominent feature is a silt alkaline Salt Pan, commonly referred to as a playa. The Black Rock Playa, elevation 3,848 ft, is the second-largest flat region in the Northern Hemisphere. Shaped like a “Y”, the Black Rock can be divided into 3 parts: the playa, west arm, and east arm.

The longest stretch of playa is 27 miles along the west arm. South of the intersecting arms, the widest spot is 12 miles. The playa has a “bulge” in the middle that is widely reported to be the visible curvature of the earth; this is actually the result of water pressure and the expanding clays that make up the playa fill. (The earth’s curvature is not visible from altitudes lower than about 20 miles.)

Also unique to Black Rock is a large concentration of hot springs, found along the escarpment of the ranges bordering the playa. The source of the springs is still unknown, although it is theorized that they are the result of active volcanism and latent heat from the Cascades in northern California and Oregon.

The playa is the remnants of Pleistocene Lake Lahontan, which at its greatest expanse 13,000 years ago covered 8,665 square miles of northwestern Nevada. Over the last 75,000 years Lake Lahontan has had four measurable high stands which all correlate to glacial advances in the Sierra Nevada.

The highest lake stand was during the most recent glacial period. Geologic evidence suggests depths up to 920 ft. at what is now referred to as Pyramid Lake, 525 ft. in Walker Lake, and 490 ft. in the Carson Sink. Lush vegetation and an abundant water supply were present, provided from rivers draining off the Sierra Nevada Mountains & Modoc Plateau. Giant mammoth, camels, horses, and saber-toothed tigers roamed the marshy land.

In 1979, the largest mammoth ever found was discovered in the Black Rock Desert located in a channel of the Quinn River. This 17,000 year-old Imperial Mammoth was 50 years old at death, weighed 13,000 pounds, and was 13 ft. tall at the shoulders.

Glacial retreats, subsequent extension of the Basin and Range, and further development of the California Coastal Ranges, Sierras, Cascades and Klamath Mountains created physical barriers generating a Rain Shadow habitat in northwestern Nevada and eastern Oregon. Lake Lahontan eventually dried up, leaving behind terraces (up to 300 ft. wide) on the surrounding mountains and the current playa surface.

– Thanks to Catherine O’Riley, Mike Bilbo (BLM), and Nate Pepel.

Suggested Reading: Geologic and Natural History Tours in the Reno Area (1995), Purkey, Becky Weimer, University of Nevada, Reno, Mackay School of Mines

Getting In: The Gate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Health Risks of Playa Fires

If you are going to burn your art, read about the environmental effects of burning on the playa, and how to lessen your impact when burning. Here we will describe the effect that burning on the playa can have on your health.

What toxins are produced when you burn?

What’s being burned? Everything, it seems. From building materials like PVC, rebar, and plastic to old couches and decorative objects. Many of these items can pose a serious environmental and health risk as they burn.

In order to get a good idea of the toxins produced when items like these are burned, we looked at the production of toxins from accidental construction fires and open burning of household wastes.

According to a study done by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, open household waste fires burn at low temperatures and can result in particulate emissions, heavy metal vapors, acid gases and other pollutants. Most are highly toxic and some can cause cancer.

Unlike incinerated waste, fire in a barrel or pile does not burn hot enough to destroy the poisonous substances released by burning materials. Since there are no safeguards to capture the toxins released in the smoke, they are released in a concentrated form at ground level where they are easily inhaled.

A study conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shows that each pound of garbage burned in a barrel emits 40 times more particulates than if that same pound of garbage was burned in a high-temperature incinerator with air pollution controls.

Another chief concern is the production of dioxin and furan. Dioxin is one of the most toxic chemicals known to man; burning common household trash at low temperatures can form these compounds, both of which are carcinogenic. Benzopyrene is another potent carcinogen produced by low temperature fires. Open fire smoke contains 70 parts per million of carcinogenic benzopyrenes, about 350 times higher than cigarette smoke.

Studies of construction fires point to another major hazard of playa burning. PVC — the playa construction material of choice — is highly dangerous to both personal health and the environment when burned. PVC is one of the worst offenders when it comes to toxic substances. PVC can emit highly corrosive and toxic hydrogen chloride when burned. It is also is a source of dioxin and phosgene gas when burned at temperatures below complete combustion. Coincidentally, phosgene, an odorless gas that can damage the lungs, is one of the substances used in chemical warfare. Samples of soot taken from fires in PVC-containing buildings that have burned have been found to contain dioxins in very high concentrations. The soot, however, represents only a small part of the problem: more than 90 of the dioxins produced in a structural fire are found in the gaseous phase and escape into the atmosphere.

For these reasons, PVC should never be burned. Please make sure anything to be burned is PVC-free.

In reality, there are no materials that are safe to burn. Everything emits a wide range of toxins, some more directly lethal than others. Even plain, untreated wood contains over 100 different chemicals or compounds when burned. Some of these compounds are extremely poisonous and carcinogenic. Cancer of the skin in chimney sweeps was linked to soot as early as 1775.

How do you protect yourself?

Quite simply, keep small children away from burning piles. That goes for anyone with asthma or other breathing problems as well.

Burner Express Bus

In an effort to reduce traffic and limit the environmental impact of the Burning Man event, Burning Man organizers are offering the Burner Express bus service for the 4th year in a row with pickups in San Francisco and the Reno Airport to Black Rock City and back. This service offers faster arrival, speedier entrance, reserved camping, and quicker departures.

Burner Express is ideal for participants flying into the event and for Burners involved in art projects and theme camps who are having their gear hauled in by campmates.

Tickets start at $83 one way from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport and $123 one way from the Civic Center in San Francisco. Additional charges apply for extra luggage, for water, for a stop at a grocery store in Reno, and for bikes. Tickets can be purchased as one way or round trips to and from Black Rock City. Participants have the ability to pick up their Will Call or Low Income tickets prior to departure at the point of embarkation.

Departures begin from both locations Saturday before the event and return trips begin Friday during the event. Service to San Francisco from BRC will run through Monday after the event, and service to Reno will run through Tuesday after the event.

Burners will travel to Black Rock City on large motor coaches, enjoying a relaxing, scenic drive. Once on Playa, there will be a “bus only” lane to sidestep traffic backups at the Gate. Once through the Gate, the Burner Express Buses will proceed to the Burner Express Bus Depot located at to 6:15 and J streets for disembarkation and greeting!

Bus riders have the option of camping in HOVerlandia, a reserved camping section on the 6:15 access road or taking shuttles out to 3 o’clock or 9 o’clock along E or J Streets. Shuttles will stop on E street at 3:00, 4:30, 6:00, 7:30, 9:00; and J street at 2:30, 3:45, 5:15, 7:15, 8:15, and 9:30. Riders will then need to make their own way to camp.

For more information and to reserve tickets visit the Burner Express Bus website.

Reno Airport

Thousands of Burning Man participants from all corners of the earth migrate their way through the Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RTIA) on their way to Burning Man, making this period the airport’s most popular travel time of the year. We’ve compiled information and a list of resources that will help make your travel through RTIA as smooth as possible.

Reno-Tahoe International Airport

2001 East Plumb Lane – 775-328-6400 – map

  • Flights information here.
  • Airport information here.
  • Airport Frequently Asked Questions here.
  • Lost items at the airport info here.  Items lost at a Travel Security Administration checkpoint info here.  If you believe you lost an item on an airplane, please contact the airline you flew with.
  • Wifi is freely available.
  • No showers or storage facilities at the airport. Highly recommend you clean up and dress fully before getting to the airport and on the plane as many people are from other walks of life and it’s a common courtesy.
  • Do not bring your trash to the airport or to the car-rental agencies! Go here for info on where to take your trash and recyclables.
  • There are Prohibited Items that cannot be taken on-board an airplane due to safety requirements. Propane, nitrous oxide canisters (aka “whippits”), lighters,knives, tools, fireworks, and various other liquids and gels are the most common prohibited items. Many people are also unclear on the various regulations regarding what is allowed in baggage vs. carry-on, so take a careful look at the Transportation Security Administration’s listings of prohibited items hereAnd be sure to properly dispose of them before arrival at the airport.
  • No drugs at the airport!
  • Finally, you will be treated to a showcase of Burning Man’s impact beyond the playa in Nevada. “Burning Man – Igniting Nevada’s Creative Fire” will be on display from August to October in the airports gallery space between the arrival / departure gates and the security gates. The exhibit includes photography of community events around Nevada and art made, worked on, or placed all over Nevada by Burning Man participants and artists.

Air Playa Info

Through the coordinated efforts of the Burning Man Project, the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, and local and international resources, Air Playa Info was established in 2008 to provide information and resources for travelers on their way from the airport to Burning Man.

Located next to Baggage Claim inside the airport, volunteers at the Air Playa Info table help answer your questions, provide directions and maps, and share information about Black Rock City, means of transportation, and all kinds of Reno resources.

Air Playa Info will be available 9am-10pm on Friday before Burning Man begins through Thursday during Burning Man.

Finally, please Leave No Trace at Air Playa Info and the airport!

Transportation to the Playa

The various means available to get to Black Rock City from the airport include air, bus, rideshare and rental car. However you get to the playa, it really is best to have your means of transportation arranged before you begin your departure for Reno. After landing in Reno, check in at Air Playa Info, as aside from information on other resources, some of these options are coordinated with the help of its volunteers.

–  BUS TRAVEL TO BLACK ROCK CITY

In an effort to reduce traffic and limit the environmental impact of the event, Burning Man has contracted with The BusBank to offer the Burner Express. This service also offers speedier entry and departure from BRC and reserved camping for participants. Buses will depart twice daily from the airport to BRC from Saturday before through Thursday of the event. Return buses will also be available from Friday of the event through Tuesday after the event. One has the option of taking an express bus straight to Black Rock City, or one has the option of taking a bus that will make a pit-stop at the Save Mart Supermarket to get supplies. Go here for more info and here to reserve your seat.

–  AIR TRAVEL TO BLACK ROCK CITY

There are various air charters that offer flights daily between Reno-Tahoe International Airport and Black Rock City Municipal Airport before, during, and after Burning Man. Go here for the listing of approved air charters and other BRC flight information.

–  RENTAL CAR

There are several rental car agencies that operate at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. Check out the listings in the yellow pages here.

–  RIDESHARE

In case you are unable to arrange means of transportation to the playa before landing in Reno, you also have a few Rideshare possibilities.

First, experience proves that for many participants, a ride to the playa is possible directly from the airport. Many fellow participants fly in just like you, and many of them rent cars and are generous when it comes to sharing a seat on their way to Burning Man. You may also be able to get some supplies with them, as most everyone flying into Reno has to obtain supplies in the region before heading out to BRC.

A few helpful tips for possibly landing a ride to the playa from the airport:

  • Check in at Air Playa Info inside the airport. Most Burning Man participants will stop by here and the Air Playa Info volunteers can be of help in figuring out your options.
  • Offering to chip in for gas is a plus!
  • Everyone in the vehicle must be wearing a seatbelt — it’s the law.
  • Be comfortable with those with whom you may share a ride.

The second location to go to in Reno for ridesharing is the rideshare base at Save Mart on Keystone Avenue. This location is a 10 minute drive from the Reno Airport, next to Interstate 80 (the primary highway Burners take to BRC).  It is also the busiest spot in Reno during Burning Man.  In case you do not have means of transportation to the playa, are unable to negotiate a ride from the airport to the playa, or want to get some supplies, this is your next best option, as the experience of previous years proves that you should be able to negotiate a ride here without too long of a wait. The Rideshare Base, where you shall please Leave No Trace, is at:

Save Mart Supermarket
525 Keystone Avenue – 775-786-2150 – map
Open 24 hours. Other store info here.

If you need to get to the Rideshare Base, you have several options:

  • Rideshare – Check in at Air Playa InfoYou may be able to negotiate a ride from the airport to the Rideshare Base (if not to the playa).
  • Taxi – A taxi should cost you around $12 to the rideshare base. MAKE SURE you tell the taxi driver to use the freeway. You can check in with Air Playa Info to find people with whom to possibly share a taxi to the Rideshare Base.
  • Regional Transportation – No direct bus routes from the airport to the Rideshare Base. If you don’t mind taking a few different buses via transfers, check out the RTC website for bus routes and schedules here.

Directions to Black Rock City, NV

Here’s how to get to Burning Man from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. Travel time is approximately 3 hours.

  • Upon leaving the airport you will find yourself westwards onto Plumb Lane. US-395 is about 1/4 mile ahead.
  • On Plumb Lane, get in right lane, take US-395 NORTH
  • About 2 1/2 miles north, you will see signs for I-80
  • Get in right lane, take I-80 EAST
  • There are two routes to take from here:
    • 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.

Reno-Sparks Resources and Storage

We recommend checking out the thorough listing of Reno-Sparks resources found in the Reno Pages for what you may need before making the journey to the playa. Most everyone flying or driving through the region needs to get supplies and these chock-full pages are intended for you.   Also, if you are interested in storing some of your camping or other supplies for next year (rather than parting with them), check out the storage facilities near the airport here.

Traffic Info

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. Please know that the Burning Man Organization is working year-round to analyze the problem(s): we are consulting with traffic engineering experts, listening to the best ideas from the community, and brainstorming new solutions to the traffic challenge. Each year there are improvements to our design and each year we value participant feedback.

Ultimately, it’s up to every participant to help alleviate the traffic problem by becoming educated, making sure their friends and campmates are educated as well, and planning ahead! Here are links to important information to help YOU plan, thus helping the community as a whole:

Thank you for playing your part in our event’s successful future!

Asthmatic on Playa

FAQ – Asthma at Burning Man

Like most deserts, the Black Rock Desert is dry and hot. Add to that the alkaline gypsum dust that makes up this dry lake bed getting kicked up by winds and vehicle travel, late nights out, and trying to stay hydrated, and the playa has the potential to challenge the health of even a mild asthmatic.

Q. What is asthma?
A. Asthma is a condition in which the airways of the lungs become narrowed or blocked, impeding breathing

Q. What triggers asthma?
A. There are many triggers, but those you may experience on the playa are:

  • Playa dust
  • Stress (emotional, physical, lack of sleep, change in normal routine, etc)
  • Change in humidity
  • Cigarette smoke

Q. How can I control my asthma?
A. Different people respond to different remedies. For some, removing themselves from the irritant (dust, smoke, heat, etc) is enough. For others, medication is necessary. Most asthmatics respond well to inhaled medications that dilate the lung airways, while others need to take a maintenance dose of either inhaled or oral steroids every day. A peak flow meter is an inexpensive, portable way to objectively self-monitor how your lungs are handling the playa environment.

Q. Will my asthma get worse at Burning Man?
A. The vast majority of people living with asthma do just fine at Burning Man. Some will notice no difference, while others will notice a heightened sensitivity. That said, if you have a history of complications with asthma, especially if they have resulted in hospitalization and/or intubation, please talk to your doctor before deciding to come to the playa. Being prepared is the best way to cope with the possible complications and we recommend the following:

Q. What can I do to minimize asthma complications while at Burning Man?

  1. Always carry a dust mask or bandana and your inhaler(s). Bring at least one dust mask or bandana for each day you’ll be on the playa.
  2. Get plenty of rest and drink enough fluids.
  3. Check your peak flow frequently.
  4. Saline nose rinses at least once or twice per day.
  5. Minimize playa dust in your living space as much as possible. A trailer, or two layers of entry into your living space (a small tent inside a larger tent works well) helps to keep your space relatively dust free while you rest and sleep.
  6. Bring enough inhalers and/or medication to last your stay on the playa, plus one extra inhaler in case you lose one.
  7. Make campmates aware of your condition, and aware of how they could help you if you need help. It is also highly recommended that you wear a medic alert bracelet at all times.
  8. Be aware of where medical resources are at Burning Man. There is medical available at Center Camp and at both the 3:00 and the 9:00 plazas.
  9. You may find a portable humidifier or mister for your tent or trailer helpful.

 

Diabetic on Playa

FAQ – Diabetic at Burning Man

Burning Man is held in one of the harshest environments on the planet. For a participant with no medical conditions, the conditions can be uncomfortable. For a participant with diabetes, it can be downright challenging. This short FAQ addresses some things you should know if you have diabetes and plan on attending Burning Man.

Q. What is diabetes?
A. Diabetes is an endocrine system disease in which the body is not able to control blood sugar levels.

Q. How is diabetes controlled?
A. Blood sugar levels are often monitored with small test strips and small blood samples. Blood sugar levels are controlled by a combination of diet, and either by-mouth diabetic medications or insulin injections.

Q. What are the challenges of managing my diabetes at Burning Man?
A. Sleep and eating schedules and activity levels are often different than you are used to keeping at home. Hydration is a challenge. If you use insulin, you are responsible for monitoring your own blood sugar levels, and for storage and administration of insulin.

Q. Will Burning Man keep my insulin refrigerated for me?
A. No. You are responsible for maintaining your own insulin supply, and for having all the test strips, syringes and needles, and anything else you will need to control your diabetes.

Q. I am prone to infections in my feet and legs. Should I be concerned about this?
A. The playa is a harsh, unforgiving environment where it is much more challenging to keep clean than it is at your home. If you are prone to foot and leg problems, wear shoes and socks at all times. Going bare foot on the playa is a recipe for undue drying, cracking, and open sores.

Q. If I have a hypo/hyperglycemic episode or get an infection or have any other complication with my diabetes, will someone be able to help me?
A. Burning Man encourages you to take care of yourself as best as you can. If you find yourself in a situation that you cannot handle, Burning Man’s medical staff can provide initial evaluation and care, and has available ambulance resources to transport you to Reno if necessary. While medical care on the playa is provided for free, you (or your health insurance) will be responsible for the cost of ambulance transportation and care provided off-playa.

Q. What can I do to minimize complications with my Diabetes while at Burning Man?

  • Get plenty of rest, drink enough fluid, and be aware of your body and what it is telling you.
  • Bring an amount of medications, supplies, and any equipment you will need that will last for the entire time you are on the Playa.
  • Make campmates aware of your condition, and aware of how they could help you if you need help. It is also highly recommended to wear a medic alert bracelet at all times.
  • Be aware of where medical resources are at Burning Man. (There is medical help available at Center Camp and at both the 3:00 and the 9:00 Plazas)

Pregnant on Playa

FAQ – Pregnant at Burning Man

Q. I’m pregnant. Should I come to Burning Man?
A. The best advice to this question comes from your provider. In general it is advised that any woman who is pregnant and planning on going to Burning Man to discuss with her provider whether or not she is high-risk (e.g. history of ectopics, diabetic, previous miscarriages, history of eclampsia, history of pre-term labor or delivery, incompetent cervix, preeclampsia, PROM etc.). All the OB/Gyn provider needs to know is the minimum about Burning Man … that is, a week long outdoor experience in the high desert with limited local medical facilities, and with the closest hospital 100 miles away. Given this basic information about Burning Man and the specific considerations for your pregnancy, they will be able to give you the best advice possible.

Q. What about all the dust and dirt? How will that affect me and my baby?
A. There is a worry that the playa environment with all its dust and lack of bathing water is bad for a pregnant person. Remember that people have been having babies in every conceivable type of environment for millions of years. The human body is a marvelous thing and if you take the care to eat well and drink lots of fluids (once you experience the thirst sensation you are already 5% dehydrated), wash your hands as appropriate, and rest when it’s time to, your body will respond by being healthy. Your baby will respond in kind.

Q. Will the desert heat harm my pregnancy?
A. The playa is a hot place. And then you have a little “oven” in your belly. The heat is a tough thing to handle when you are pregnant because you feel big and round and hot already. Our body has a thermostat though, so that when we get hot we sweat to cool down our bodies. When you are pregnant you are less able to compensate for heat because of already dilated arteries due to the higher levels of estrogen in your body. Again, drink lots of water and if you feel too warm, get out of the sun.

Q. What if I have a high-risk pregnancy?
A. Be sure to talk with your Ob/Gyn provider about the risks and considerations specific for your pregnancy. Be gentle with yourself and your baby. If you are having problems with your pregnancy, being on the playa places you several hours away from medical facilities equipped with the resources and medical experts to help you. Make wise decisions based on that fact. Pregnancy is a marvelous and natural event. Listen to your body and you will do well. But if you do experience any bleeding, cramping, or other problems on the playa, please don’t hesitate to contact someone at one of the medical outposts (3:00, 9:00, and Rampart at 5:15 and Esplanade) for an evaluation.

Q. The dust on the playa is highly alkaline. Is that bad for me and my baby?
A. We’ve researched this a fair bit. There is no evidence that we can find that the alkaline dust is detrimental to anyone, pregnant or otherwise.

Pregnancy is a marvelous and natural event. Listen to your body and you will do well. But if you do experience any bleeding, cramping, or other problems on the playa, please don’t hesitate to contact someone at one of the medical outposts (3:00, 9:00, and Center Camp) for an evaluation.

Sober on Playa

Each year, as the city grows, so does its sober community. The following is a compilation of suggestions some have found helpful in experiencing Burning Man clean and sober.

Before You Go

If you follow the 12-step program, review pages 100-102 in “the Big Book,” Alcoholics Anonymous.

If you have a sponsor, talk to them. It’s recommended that you have a serious dialogue with your sponsor before buying your ticket. You will see (or smell) people partying and drinking. The conditions are harsh and daily life can, at times, be overwhelming. Be honest with your sponsor about these things. Additionally, your sponsor should also know that there is much MUCH more to Burning Man than they’ve heard from the media. Learn as much as you can about the event so that you can describe the elements of the experience that have drawn you to it. Your decision to participate is between you, your sponsor, and your higher power.

Read the Survival Guide.

Fill Up Your Tank

When we don’t have time for meetings is usually when we need them the most. You will no doubt be very busy in those countdown days before the event. It’s easy to underestimate how long it will take to finish projects, pack, shop, and do all the things that people do before leaving town (and work) for 7–10 days. This would not be the ideal time to cut back on meetings. In fact, we suggest making time to work in an extra meeting wherever possible.

Planning Your Camp

Just because your friends may party or drink alcohol in moderation outside of Burning Man, don’t expect them to be moderate while camping with you in the Black Rock Desert. Consider having a discussion with them early in the planning process. Or, consider camping in a clean and sober community like Anonymous Village, Run Free Camp, or Camp Stella*. If you feel you can no longer camp with your friends, you’re welcome to move into these camps. This option has saved people’s sobriety in past years.

* Please note Camp Stella is on hiatus for 2018, but many Stella campers can be found at Camp Run Free

While Living in Black Rock City

Find a Home Meeting

In the “real world” Home Groups help us stay sane and sober for many different reasons. There are now more than 10 12-step meetings daily in Black Rock City. Pick a time and place that works for you and return to the same meeting regularly. Burning Man only lasts eight days, but seeing and hearing the same people even just a few times can be really helpful. Some Burners find it helpful to ask a new friend at an on-playa meeting to be their “Playa Sponsor” for the duration of that year’s Burn.

Remember HALT!

HUNGRY: Many people report a loss of appetite while in Black Rock City. Don’t forget to eat! You don’t want to be miles away from camp when you remember that you forgot to eat lunch. Some of us have found protein bars handy for instant hunger relief. Pay attention to the clock and eat regularly.

ANGRY: Remember, there are now about half a dozen meetings each day in Black Rock City, and “program people” are nearly always available if you need to talk.

LONELY: Ironically, some participants report that the one moment where virtually all 70,000+ citizens come together, the night the Man burns, can be the single loneliest moment of the week. Be careful not to have unrealistic expectations for this event. It is a spectacular performance by any measure, but it’s rarely anyone’s single favorite moment of the week. Usually, participants’ most-revered experiences are random unplanned personal encounters. We suggest that you go to the burn with people that you trust will be sober and stick close. Once the Man falls, it’s very easy to become separated. Every year a group of sober people from Camp Anonymous attend the Man Burn together. Listen for announcements at meetings towards the end of the week.

TIRED: Do not go to Burning Man expecting to ever get a full 8 hours of deep restful sleep. It’s possible, but unlikely. After the sun disappears over the mountains each evening is when the real magic begins. There are only 8 nights of Burning Man a year and you’ll want to get the most out of them. This means staying up as late as you can. Unfortunately, sleeping in late isn’t so easy. The unforgiving sun illuminates your tent, the temperature rises, and neighbors will be noisy as they start their day (or end it). Before you go to bed each night, put on a pair of eye shades (available at most drug stores). This will trick your body into thinking it’s still dark outside. Bring a couple pairs of ear plugs to muffle the thumping of distant rave parties. Finally, if you are hydrating properly, you will need to pee in the morning while it’s still cold outside. Women may choose to make a funnel or a jug for this purpose; guys, designate an empty water jug. Sorry to be graphic, but a quick pee in (or near) your tent may enable you to get back to bed quickly and squeeze out a few extra hours of sleep. You’ll be less likely to fall back to sleep if you have to get dressed and take a bike ride to the nearest porta-potties when it’s bright and sunny but freezing cold outside.

Allow yourself to head home early if that’s what your body is telling you to do. We are only human and there’s only so much we can do. No matter how hard you try, you will only see a fraction of all there is to see at Burning Man. Make it an early night and you might be able to stay out later the next night.

Develop a Routine

Addicts sometimes do better when we have a daily routine. This can help give us a sense of stability in a world where nothing seems normal. Here are a few ideas.

  • Go to Center Camp to read the paper each morning.
  • Have breakfast with your campmates while reviewing the days possibilities in the WhatWhereWhen Guide or while listening to Black Rock Radio.
  • Find a workshop or class to attend on a daily basis.
  • Make a daily commitment to a regular volunteer gig such as the Lamp Lighters or Recycle Camp.
  • Go to the same meeting at the same time each day.
  • Plan on having dinner with your campmates each night.
  • Remember your 11th step. There are spiritual experiences and workshops all over the playa, many of which are specifically chemical-free. But also whatever your daily practice may be at home, bring it to the playa! Add to it! Evolve it! But don’t leave it at home. The things that ground you elsewhere will also ground you in the dust.

These are just a few ideas. Having a daily routine can be really helpful, but be careful not to over commit or stretch yourself too thin.

Volunteerism

As you probably already know, nothing helps us get “out of ourselves” better than service work. We recommend making a formal commitment to volunteer, even if it’s just one shift. Informally, there are many opportunities to help out your fellow citizens. Maybe you could help a neighbor pitch their tent help or help a stranger by carrying a bag of ice.

Attending Meetings

While some see Burning Man as a big party, many see as an opportunity for growth. Going to meetings may help you get the most out of your experience. Besides, where else can you go to a meeting where people are wearing costumes or perhaps nothing at all? Black Rock City is one of the few places where baskets are not passed around during meetings. In fact, with the exception of ice and coffee in center camp, cash transactions are not permitted at Burning Man.

Following is a tentative schedule for daily 12-step meetings. Be sure to check the WhatWhereWhen Guide or visit sober camps to confirm these times.

Run Free Camp hosts a variety of 12-step meetings. Anonymous Village hosts several large “Any A” meetings, where AA, NA, OA, SLAA, and any other fellowships can support one another’s recovery together, as well as that are fellowship specific. AV also maintains a space available for non-12 step recovery programs if that is how you recover. Also, if you need a meeting, you can start one at time! Grab a friend.

Time Program Camp
7:00am Open AA Anonymous Village
9:00am Women’s AnyA Anonymous Village
10:30am AlAnon/CoDA Anonymous Village
Noon AnyA Anonymous Village
Noon Open AA Run Free
1:30pm OA/AnyF Anonymous Village
3:00pm NA Anonymous Village
4pm MWFSa Open NA Run Free
4pm TTh MA Run Free
4:30pm AnyS – SLAA/SAA/SA Anonymous Village
6:00pm AnyA Anonymous Village
7:30pm MWF MA Anonymous Village
7:30pm TTh GayA AnyA Anonymous Village
8pm Open AA Run Free

… And there are even more meetings that meet once or twice during the Burn! Check your WWW or, better, yet, drop by the sober camps when you arrive!

Gifts

Be wary of food and drink offered to you. Know what you are eating and drinking. Burning Man thrives on a Gift Economy. You will probably be offered food or beverages by well-intentioned burners. Always ask if what you are about to ingest contains alcohol or any other substances. Consider the source and use good judgment based on the answer you get. The medical tent gets cases every year of people who were dosed without their knowledge.

The Roots of AA at Burning Man

An account by Anonymous Camp co-founder Dan A.

In 1997, there was one meeting at noon next to the Center Camp Cafe on the day of the Burn. We found each other through a small ad that someone who wanted a meeting put in the Black Rock Gazette. We called ourselves the Burning Desires group. Twelve of us sat on straw bales in the blazing sun near a generator that was supposed to cover our voices. I’m not sure how successful that theory was as we had to raise our voices above the generator. From the shade of the Cafe, one would have seen a dozen people in a tight circle cooking in the sun and yelling “Hi Dan” in unison. It was probably obvious what was going on. Anyway, we talked about getting a theme camp together for the next year. We collected a list of e-mail addresses at the end of the meeting and stayed in contact.

The Clean & Sober Camp was a registered theme camp that didn’t make it to the playa in 1997 because of cascading last minute problems. The next spring, I contacted the Burning Man office and asked if they had a contact name and phone number for the Clean & Sober Camp people. Within minutes, Steve in San Francisco got a call from some guy in Minneapolis who he’d never heard of before. Soon we were talking about registering a theme camp and combined the on-playa list with a list Steve had collected of people who inquired about his camp. Thus was born Anonymous Camp.

We made our first appearance on-playa in 1998. Although most came to meetings as a result of our listing in the What Where When, many just happened to be walking by and recognized, much to their surprise, that a meeting was going on. Of all the strange things I saw and did on the playa that year, the strangest was signing someone’s court card. We’re everywhere!

Contact

If you want more information or to join their camps, you can contact them via their web sites:

Contact Camp Stella through http://campstella.wordpress.com/
Contact Anonymous Camp through http://www.burnanon.org
Contact Run Free Camp through http://runfreecamp.com

Many thanks to the members of the sober Burning Man community for writing this helpful guide and advice.

Medic Alert Bracelets

Black Rock City’s Emergency Services Department highly encourages folks who normally wear a medic alert bracelet to do so on playa as well. If you don’t usually wear a medic alert bracelet but have a serious medical condition, we encourage you to wear one on playa to ensure Emergency staff can take appropriate care of you. Questions? Email 911@burningman.org.