Live Plants

NO PLANTS AT BURNING MAN

Remember: Burning Man is probably the largest “Leave No Trace” event in the world.

Live plants die on the playa. Ask anyone that has brought them. They always make a mess. In our history, participants who have brought in plants, sod, trees, or cut palm fronds, have created a MOOP (Matter Out of Place) disaster. Every site that has used them in any quantity has cost the Burning Man Project days and days of work post event.

The Gate, Earth Guardians and DPW Playa Restoration Crew are highly sensitized to the issue and keep a close eye out for anything that enters our city. They will stop you at the gate or come and find you. They have been known to incinerate projects before they were even begun.

For this reason we have long banned live plants on the playa.

Please support us in this effort. Help us keep the Restoration Crew sane! Artificial plants work just as well and look better with a quick watering. Better yet, construct your own plants and trees from recycled materials that won’t cause MOOP in desert high winds.

Leave your live plants behind. Leave behind ANYTHING that will break up and/or blow away in the wind, living or dead (trees, twigs, loose paper, palm fronds, etc.)

Pets at Burning Man

Dogs. Love ’em and leave ’em. Due to the numerous issues surrounding dogs at Burning Man, the organization has decided not to allow them at the event.

Do not show up at the gate with your animal at Burning Man and expect to be admitted to the event. Reno is a long way to drive back, and it will be hard to find kennel space during the week before and weekend of the Labor Day holiday. The best thing to do is to plan ahead and find a petsitter, family member or friend, veterinarian’s kennel or boarding facility near home that you have visited and feel comfortable with. If your pet will be staying somewhere new and unfamiliar, take time to introduce them (several times for short visits) to the person or place that will be caring for them while you are at Burning Man, and that may reduce the anxiety they may have of being away from you. Remember to leave your veterinarian’s information with the caretaker and clearly explain any medication or special treatment your pet needs while you are away.

A one to three foot tall, four legged, non English speaking, fur coat wearing canine will not enjoy the weather conditions and “alien” environment at Burning Man the way humans do. The alkaline soil is corrosive to noses, paws and bellies. Dehydration and heatstroke happen very quickly, and there is no animal medical service at the event. Pets are also prone to responding adversely to loud noises, huge sound systems, explosions, fireworks and crazy costumed people. Many animals have been lost each year, and problem dogs have caused disputes between camps.

This decision was made with the utmost concern for the health and well being of both dogs and participants. As fellow participants and animal lovers, we thank you for understanding and implementing this policy.

E- mail dogs@burningman.org if you need further information or have any questions.

Relationship Survival

By velvona@hotmail.com

Have you ever traveled with a friend overseas, or crossed the country in a car? By the time your journey is over, one of two things has happened: you have become closer and bonded for life, or you never want to speak to each other again.

Burning Man is completely different from any traveling you might do, but in many respects, it’s the same as any other journey. The people you camp with can make your experience stellar-righteous, or turn it in to a living hell. We’ve all heard stories about people marrying people they’ve met on the playa, or meeting friends, future roommates and co-workers. But for each good story, there is a corresponding one about friends and lovers parting ways after their week in the desert.

Here are a few tips that might help you preserve relationships of all sorts at Burning Man, culled from the experiences of people who have been there before.

The People-Unfriendly Playa

Like dogs, some people just don’t belong at Burning Man. Does your partner go into convulsions when there’s no place to plug in the blow dryer? Does your best friend hate crowds? Do yourself a favor, and leave them at home. Not only will they have a horrible time and complain all week long, but you will end up babysitting, and will resent them for ruining your vacation. This is a huge issue for couples. Trust me, the time apart will do you good.

Know Thy Campmates

Black Rock City is happening at night. You’ll be out frolicking and enjoying the sights after the sun goes down, but what will you do when the sun is up? You’ll be sitting under your shade structure with the people you came with, day in and day out. This bonding time can be incredibly fun, provided you like everyone in your camp. In 1994, I attended Burning Man for the first time with eight hardy, easygoing and resourceful individuals … and one neurotic and insecure woman who we invited on a whim. Her incessant and inane babbling had us all running for cover in the next camp. If you’ve ever stayed out late to avoid your roommate or spouse, you know this game. This is your home for the week. As such, it should be as comfortable as possible.

You Say Tomato, I Say Tomahto

With any organized group, people tend to fall into their natural roles. If you have a large group, chances are you will have somebody who becomes Mama, Chief Construction Foreman, Organizer of Outings or Head Chef, to name a few. It’s good, though, to make sure everybody in your group has similar goals, and that they will pull their weight equally. Like Dog People vs. Cat People, the People Who Want Party All Night and Eat Food Out of a Can should not camp with the People Who Prepare Elaborate Meals and Do Yoga Every Morning. You don’t want to end up taking care of a bunch of people who aren’t taking care of themselves.

Welcome to Camp Dis/Harmony

Theme camps require huge amounts of cooperation and effort. Everyone in your group needs to be committed to building and/or staffing your space. Make sure people know what is expected of them ahead of time, and find out how people want to contribute. Nothing will tear you apart quicker than making assumptions on what others have committed to. Ambitious projects quickly become forced marches when only a couple of people shoulder the load. Don’t get upset when things don’t come together on the first day. People will need time to acclimate, unwind and decompress when they arrive. And don’t forget to factor in the unpredictable weather. If your theme camp comes together by Friday, you’ll be doing better than many.

Playa Time

That old expression, “Best of Plans Mislaid” is especially apropos to the Burning Man experience. There’s a lot to do and see, and simple tasks take much longer than you think they will. People get sidetracked, caught up, distracted and too busy to keep their promises. Prior to the event, it probably seemed like a great idea to hook up with friends Thursday evening at sundown, but when Thursday evening rolls around, a nap seems like a much better idea. Unfortunately, you can’t pick up the phone and let them know you won’t be making it. Cut yourself, and your friends, some slack, and don’t take it personally. It’s not that they don’t love you; most likely they were too exhausted to make the effort.

Take Care of Yourself

It takes about two minutes to become over-stimulated at Burning Man. Between the people, the sights and the sounds, you will find yourself in a place where the rules have changed and few things are what they seem. Add in a couple of days of exertion in the heat, sleep deprivation, mild dehydration and decreased appetite, and you may find yourself feeling a bit edgy. Chances are you will take it out on those people who are closest to you. When you find yourself getting ready to pitch a hissy fit, stop. Get out of the sun. Drink some water. Eat some food. Take a nap. There. Don’t you feel better?

Sex and the Single Burner

Once upon a time, I did a stint as an advice columnist. Here is the answer to a question I received.

Q. I’m going out to Burning Man for the first time and I’m curious about the sexual energy involved. Could the Goddess of Love give me a survival guide to sex at Burning Man?

A. As you state, there is a lot of sexual energy swirling and whirling about, much like a little hippie chick at a Dead show. Anything and everything can and will happen when you stick a bunch of homo sapiens in an empty desert. Here’s the inside skinny that will make your journey through the sexual side of Black Rock City more pleasant.

  • Figure out what you want. Love? Sex? Your wildest fantasies? It’s all there for the taking. And for goodness sake, make sure the person across from you wants the same thing. If she or he doesn’t, there are 500 others who do. Don’t go breakin’ no hearts.
  • Be respectful. Just because people are walking around naked does not necessarily mean they wish *you* were naked in a small enclosed space with them. Learn to take no for an answer, and don’t be afraid to use the “n” word yourself.
  • Pay attention to your body. The desert is a dangerous place, and the climate alone will push you to the limit physically. Get plenty of rest, monitor your substance intake and carry water with you at all times (you also have to drink the water).
  • Always play safe. If your budget for supplies didn’t include condoms, stop by and see the fine folks at Safer Sex Camp. They’ll hook you up.
  • Make love to the playa, and she will love you back. Become one with the sun, the stars, and the omnipresent dust. (Word up to Annie Sprinkle for that piece of advice.)
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things. If there was ever a space for exploring, this is it! Who knows, you may even like it and want to do it again…and again and again….
  • Take responsibility for your own pleasure. You can find anything your little heart desires, but you have to ask for it first! If you don’t get what you want, look in the mirror.

Joined at the Hip

Burning Man is particularly hard on couples. If you can make it through Burning Man, you can make it through anything! Here are a couple of pieces of advice from those who have been there.

From Greg X. Presley:

Burning Man has stressed my relationship more than any other single event/episode/situation I can name. There are, however, precautionary measures I can recommend…5 Ways to (Maybe) Keep a Relationship Beyond Burning Man

  • Watch each other’s hydration! The first sign of dehydration is irritability — a bad mood. Who gets the brunt of that? You and your partner, of course. Try it yourself. Just skip a few quarts, then pick a fight over anything. Works like a charm out on the playa. Of course, you’ll probably have to find another ride home.
  • Make dates, and keep them. Knowing that your beloved will be back, say, around dusk, to escort/be escorted by you on a pre-planned evening is an effective counter for that ‘left behind’ feeling. And make your next date as soon as the last one’s over, before the glow fades.
  • Massage — anytime it’s not too hot. Feet especially. Increase your tactile time to compensate for the inevitable shortage of routine relationship reassurances that playa life entails.
  • Push boundaries? Nyet! I know it’s Burning Man. I know it’s about self-expression. Does that matter to the heart? No! Even if he/she says ‘it’s ok’ now, it won’t be then, or later.
  • Secret treats. You know the drill: flowers and chocolate, wine and cheese, whatever. The name of this game is “I Went to Burning Man but I Thought *Only* About You.” If you can’t stand playing this one, then better sell one of those two tickets before it’s too late.

From ActionGrl:

Take care of one another. Watch to insure that enough water is going through you both — more than you think you need. If you don’t stay hydrated, you’ll be broken up by the end of the event, I can almost guarantee.

Equally important, be sure to take time with and time away from one another. Don’t forget that you are individuals. Exposure to the event has a different impact on everyone. One of you may be way into it, while the other might have a hard time adjusting. One of you might be into sitting around camp and making stuff, while the other wants to don costumes and do performance art in the cafe. Don’t be pushy and expect your partner to do the same things you want to do at every second.

Spend all the time together you want, but leave room for yourself and your own interests, too. Remember that there are thousands of new friends for you each to meet as well, so each of you should feel encouraged to spend time with other people as well as each other. Still, be sure to schedule plenty of ‘dates’ together, and keep them. Take time to plan trips around the city with each other, or have a standing date for coffee each day. Just make sure that you honor your time together, but also apart.

And in the End…

Burning Man is an experiment in temporary community. You are free to make new rules, and find different ways of relating with people. Learning more about other human beings — and yourself — is a big part of the reason we’re here!

Kids at Burning Man


So, you’ve decided to bring the kids to Burning Man? Great! It’s not an easy decision, but it may prove to be one of the best field trips you could ever take them on. With a little thought and care, the experience can be more fun for you, your kids, and everyone around you. If you’ve taken your kids camping, you’re already halfway there. Many of these ideas apply to different age ranges, of course, so make your judgments based on your kids’ ages and abilities.

The Black Rock Explorers is a program for Burner kids based on the 10 Principles. Camps and services host educational field trips, events and volunteer opportunities for kids. Explorers earn patches, tokens or pins for things learned, survival skills achieved, good deeds and volunteering. Visit their website and Facebook page.

Anybody under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian aged 21 or older in Black Rock City. Children 12 and under will be admitted for free, but (as of 2015) must have a Kid’s Ticket, which helps us to better understand the composition and diversity of BRC’s citizens. Children ages 13 and older require full-price tickets. Be prepared to show proof of age.

As for survival tips, everything in the Burning Man Survival Guide applies double to kids. Water, food, shade, sunblock, comfortable clothes, and knowing their (and your) limits are all important to being able to enjoy the experience. Read the Guide and trust its suggestions. However, there are a few extra precautions to take with kids. Adults love the lack of structure at Burning Man, but most kids need some structure and security to be comfortable with their surroundings.

To that end, we’ve created a downloadable Family Survival Guide (PDF), which provides helpful information about how to survive and thrive with kids at Burning Man.

RV Guidelines

Recreational Vehicle (RV) is the term generally used for a motor vehicle or trailer equipped with living space and amenities found in a home. RVs at Burning Man are equally loved and abhorred by participants. They can be very useful on the playa and yet are not without complications that could be hazardous. In order to protect the playa and participants from environmental hazards related to RVs, here are a few easy-to-follow guidelines.

What is nice about an RV?

  • Protects you during dust storms/rain
  • A bed
  • You can cook indoors without worrying about dust getting in the food
  • A shower and toilet
  • Refrigeration
  • They carry a lot of supplies

What is not-so-nice about an RV?

  • Expensive to rent (about $2000 for 10 days)
  • High gas cost (about $150.00 per trip to the gas station)
  • They sell out quickly — if you are going do it, do it now!
  • Noisy generators disturb others
  • Keep you isolated from others. Why bother coming to Burning Man if you are going to spend all your time in your RV?

What to remember when considering an RV

Pre-Playa: Test Your RV Tanks

It is essential that you check underneath your RV for leakage from your potable, gray, and black water tanks. Also check for oil leaks.

Do this before you leave your RV rental site and before you leave for the playa:

  • Fill your water – check for fresh water leaks
  • Run your sink – (one minute) check for gray water leaks
  • Flush your toilet – (a few times) check for black water leaks
  • Check your caps – potable, grey, and black water caps go missing and sometimes RVs are even rented without them. Caps are easily replaceable at RV or hardware store.
  • Check for vehicle fluid leaks – If you can, crawl under and inspect the underside of your RV, particularly around the engine compartment and drivetrain to look for wet spots where fluids might be leaking.

As a citizen of Black Rock City, you are responsible for preventing and remediating leaks — not the RV rental site or your camp manager.

On Playa: Tank Leak

Leaking is commonly caused by being overfilled or, worse, a crack in the tank. If you have a leak, here’s what to do:

  • Stop using it – First of all, stop. Until you fix it, no more showers, toilets or baths.
  • Contain it – Use a bucket to collect the leaking fluids. If the spill is over one gallon, the amount of contaminated playa is five gallons. If you’ve got a spill, mark off the spill area with cones and get help from Rangers or ESD.
  • Dig It Up – If all the contaminated playa can fit in a five-gallon bucket, use a shovel to dig up the contaminated playa and dispose of off playa. If the spill affects a playa surface  larger than five gallons, call a Ranger or ESD. Leave No Trace.
  • Fix it – If your spill is due to a crack or some other malfunction, you may have to stop using your RV tanks entirely. If it’s overfilled, get your tank emptied or pumped by United Site Services.

On Playa: Engine Oil Leak

Engine oil leaks are common, especially in older vehicles, and they are bad for the playa. Check under your vehicle; if your engine oil is leaking on the playa, use a drip pan, tarp, rug, plywood, or anything that can be secured to the ground so it catches the oil.

Always: Have a Five-Gallon Bucket Around

For RVs, a five-gallon bucket is very handy on the playa. If you don’t have a bucket, a tarp or a bin might suffice.

  • When your RV is being serviced, a bucket underneath the tank will capture any residual drips or leaks. If the leak or spill occurs while a tank is being pumped, the vendor will remediate the spill. However, any leaks or spills that happen outside of servicing are still your responsibility. More info here.
  • If you have a small fuel leak or grey or black water spill and the contaminated playa fits in a five-gallon bucket, you can just dig up the soil and dispose of the bucket off site. If the contaminated playa is greater than what will fit in a five-gallon bucket, you might need help. Call a Black Rock Ranger or ESD’s Hazmat team to help remediate the site. See the guidelines here.
  • Use your bucket to contain Matter Out Of Place (MOOP) as you clean up your camp. Before you leave Black Rock City, it’s your job to make sure all MOOP (cigarette butts, wood scraps, plastic bottle caps, etc.) is picked up off the playa. Here’s everything you need to know.

Leave No Trace

The Burning Man community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.

The Generator

One of the nicest things about your RV is the generator. If you have a more modern RV, chances are the generator is behind the driver’s seat and is one of the quietest ones. An Onan generator is, by far, the top-of-the-line generator for low sound emissions.

  • Use your generator on a daily basis for at least one hour. If you don’t run it once a day, you will take the chance that your battery will run out and you won’t be able to start the RV when you have to go home.
  • Invest in/borrow a power inverter. During the time you run your generator, attach this power converter to the battery to turn DC to AC. When you turn it off, you can still use the inverter to power the stereo, lights, etc. (The size of the inverter determines how long it gives energy.) In this case, bigger is better.
  • Don’t leave your generator on for long periods of time. You don’t want to waste gas unnecessarily. Besides, most RV rental places actually charge you for generator time. Usually they allow up to three hours of free generator time, and charge a minimal fee after that.

The sink, toilet and shower

You have a finite supply of water. You need to be more aware of water usage than you may be at home. Your water mileage will vary with the number of people sharing the RV.

Don’t leave the water running while washing your dishes or yourself. Think frugal. Most RVs have a bigger fresh water tank than gray water tank, and if you let the water run, you will fill the gray water tank.

On the subject of toilets:

Even though you have a toilet, you should still alternate with the porta-potties. Only use one-ply RV toilet paper with your RV toilet. Otherwise you may experience problems.

There is no dumping station on site, and you will not be allowed to dump on the playa. The BLM does issue citations for the dumping of gray or black water. RV servicing will be available for a $50 fee for trailers up to 24′ in length and $60 for one gray and one black tank for RVs that are 25′-35′ in length. Each additional tank is $30.

There is no location for scheduling RV servicing appointments. We’ve tried to have a sign-up booth at Playa Info in the past, and it was horribly inefficient and wasted a lot of people’s time. Keeping that in mind, feel free to stop by Playa Info between the hours of 11 am and 1 pm for more information.

Just flag ’em down!

The trucks that service RVs make their rounds between 9 am and 9 pm, and they have an amber flashing light on the top and a big “RV ONLY” sign on the side. The trucks patrol their “zones” in the city all day, and you can flag them down for service as they roam their quadrants, or stop them while they’re in the broader neighborhood and request a local visit. In case of dire emergency/missed opportunity, you can also pedal out to Fire & Services, where you will find a Help Desk and make an appointment (out past the outer road and 6:30).

Make sure that there is someone at your camp to show the driver where to pump AND to pay for the servicing. Keep in mind that the sanitation vendor only accepts cash so plan accordingly. Also, if they can’t get to your rig, they’re not going to be able to service it. Leave a space for the service truck to get to your RV. Pump hoses cannot reach beyond 30 feet.

We also used an outdoor shower to freshen up. You should use the RV shower only every other day. Use unscented baby wipes to keep fresh between showers.

The RV as part of a campsite

RVs in Black Rock City are not the most welcome sight, but they can be used strategically in camp to great effect. During the windstorms, RVs can protect the tents from blowing away. Place your RVs along the internal boundaries of the campsite to protect the common areas from the windstorms. Do not place RVs along main streets, this is your camp’s frontage, it’s like your front porch. Burning Man looks and feels better when participants don’t walk down RV-lined streets. As stated above, when placing RVs be mindful of where generators will be located and how that will affect your neighbors.

Decorate your RV

RVs are much more fun when they become art!

  • Have fun with the logo (as long as it is reversible)
  • Decorate it. One of the best RVs someone long ago who wrote some of this copy ever saw was a RV covered in fur (a FUR-V), and one had huge legs (like when the house landed on the wicked witch of the east in the Wizard of Oz). Said someone used bamboo, PVC piping and a parachute to give shade and add some flair.

Securing Your Structure

The Black Rock Desert is a place of extreme weather. While conditions are generally pleasant, you can expect severe wind, lightning, rain, hail, and dust storms at any time during the year, usually with very little warning.

45875pre_wm_c34af6584468de9The biggest challenge to any structure, from a small camping tent to an 80-foot-high wooden man, is the force of the wind. Anything you bring out there should be securely attached to the ground for just this reason. Larger structures run the risk of tipping over and crushing someone, and smaller ones like camping tents may be blown miles down the playa, never to be seen again. Keep in mind that 75-mph winds are a common occurrence. In wind like this it is difficult to even stand up on your own two feet. Do everything you can to plan for it accordingly.

Also keep in mind that anything lying around your camp that is not secured down, like garbage, plastic bottles, paper, art or anything else, will get blown downwind when you least expect it. It is your responsibility to take back everything that you bring in, from the largest structure to the smallest bottle cap or cigarette butt. Keeping everything secured means you won’t have to spend hours or days searching for it later.

Tent Stakes

A large number of people camp in their tents at Burning Man. If you are going to be setting up a tent, have a look at the stakes that came with it. These are usually small and made of lightweight aluminum or plastic, designed for backpacking, trading off strength for weight. Since you probably won’t be carrying the load on your back, go out and buy a few of those foot-long plastic or metal stakes they sell for larger tents. Also, for the same price, you can use rebar stakes, a much better idea, described below.

If you are going to be using the small stakes that came with the tent, at least be sure to keep something large and heavy in your tent when you’re not there, like a loaded ice chest. You don’t want to be searching for your tent 20 miles downwind.

Rebar Stakes

If you’re going to be setting up anything larger than a regular camping tent, like a parachute structure, you’re going to need a better way of securing your structure to the ground. Those big plastic stakes will be almost useless for anything bigger than a pup tent.

A popular and very practical way to stake your structure is to use rebar, which is normally used as reinforcement for poured concrete construction. It is strong, cheap, and resists pulling out from the ground better than anything you can buy at a camping store. It is usually sold in 20′ lengths, with a number representing its diameter in eighths of an inch. The most common and useful size is #4 (which means 4/8″or half an inch in diameter).

If you already have easy access to a metal chop saw or bandsaw, (or if you feel like a good workout,a hacksaw) you can save a couple of bucks by going to a construction supply warehouse or scrap metal yard and buy the rebar in full 20 foot sections. They will usually cut it in half for you for free so you can get it in your car.

For those of you without a means of cutting metal, there is a much simpler way: Go to your local friendly Home Club Enormart Depot, and buy it pre-cut in 3 foot lengths, for about a buck apiece (same price as tent stakes). A semi-friendly man or woman will even load them into you car for you. You could have saved a couple of bucks the other way, but this is much easier for most.

At this point you have an excellent stake, but also a real hazard, as the end sticking out of the ground is surprisingly sharp and dangerous to naked and unaware feet. A large amount of injuries at Burning Man are due to just this reason. So instead of putting holes in people’s feet, you’re better off capping the end somehow to keep people from stepping on it. A cheap way to do this is to use old 1 or 2 liter plastic soda bottles stuck upside down over the end, but you can also pick up mushroom-shaped plastic caps, made specifically for this purpose at construction supply houses. But neither of these options is particularly attractive.

There is a better way!

Professor Flubber’s Patented Kandy-Kane Rebar Method!

It’s easier than you think!

This is an excellent way of making sure no one impales themselves, and if you’re using guidelines for your structure, this will guarantee that the rope won’t slip off the end of the rebar. It also makes it much easier to pull your stakes out when you leave. You just use an extra stake as a handy hook and yank the other stakes out of the ground.

What you need is your three-foot lengths of rebar, and two long pieces of steel pipe to slip over the end, 4 feet long at least, the longer the better. Place one pipe on the ground and brace the far end against your house or anything else vertical and solid. Slip your rebar stake into the pipe so that about 4-6 inches are sticking out of the end. Take the other pipe and put this over the short end of the rebar that’s sticking out, and crank the thing over until you have made a candy-caneout of your stake. This doesn’t take any more time than searching for litre plastic soda bottles, and is a stronger, safer, and much easier way of doing things.

Whatever you do, remember to bring a small sledgehammer to pound the rebar in to the ground. A regular claw hammer might not do it. And there are no handy rocks on the Black Rock Desert to pound things in with.

Rope

If you’re planning anything tall and vertical and are using guy lines to keep it from tipping over, you might be shocked at the price of decent ropes or cable when you go to the hardware store. 80 cents a foot doesn’t sound like much but if you need 200 feet, it adds up.

A good option for larger structures is used climbing rope – it is unbelievably strong and has a small amount of stretch to it, which helps a tiny bit in sudden wind gusts. Purchased new, it is very expensive. But regular climbers often ditch their used ropes after a short time for safety reasons, and if you call some climbing gyms or put up a notice at a mountaineering store, you may be able to get a cheap or free deal on a 150′ coil. The common sizes are in the 9-11mm range, all are plenty strong for securing most structures, and they hold knots very well. When you cut the rope to the length you want, take a lighter and melt the end down a bit, this will keep it from unraveling.

If you get your rope from a hardware store, try to avoid that slick stiff yellow stuff, which is by far the cheapest and fairly strong for most purposes, but doesn’t hold knots worth a damn.

Elevated Platforms

Any structure designed as an elevated viewing area should be considered carefully. How many people can it hold and how will you police it? Railings are required to be well designed and built; how will you accomplish that? If someone climbs up onto it, how do they exit without causing a traffic jam? Since you cannot dig holes in the playa you will have to use cable to secure your structure. Do you know what gauge cable is best for your needs? If you have not fully considered all aspects of your plan from a structural engineering perspective, you have more research to do.

For more Burning Man Shade Structure resources please visit:

Generators

Thinking of bringing a generator to Burning Man?

Black Rock City is a noisy place. Music, laughter, questionable performance art, chanting, shouting, singing and drumming are all part of the experience. Yet, while the drone of raves in the night is something we can all adapt to, the relentless brrrrraaaaaaaaappp of a noisy generator is quite another. Just as bad, the exhaust — bet you never thought about that! — can be like sleeping inside a garage with a car running to your neighbors.

You should first consider environmentally friendly energy solutions, but if you do choose to bring and share a generator, please be considerate of others by following these guidelines:

  • Bring the quietest generator you can afford, and the smallest that will meet your actual needs. Larger generators are more difficult to transport, use more fuel and create more pollution.
  • Don’t run your generator late at night or early in the morning.
  • Place the generator as far from other camps as possible.
  • Cover your generator with a sound shield or baffle. Do NOT bury it to shield the noise. No matter how well it is filled afterwards, the hole leaves a tremendous gouge in the playa.
  • Make sure people can’t trip over any power cords.

Weather

Weather on the playa is often violent and unpredictable. Dust storms, high winds, freezing temperatures, rain, we get it all out there. It’s impossible to be overly prepared when it comes to the elements.

Here’s more weather information than you want to know, whether you need it or not!

Playa Living


Day-to-day life on the playa is tricky, but it’s beautiful. It breaks the routines of civilization and makes us re-learn fundamental skills. Here are some basic guides to the many aspects of playa living.

Preparation Resources

Getting ready for Burning Man is half the fun. Planning a camp, creating art projects, and getting funky gear together is a blast, as we all know. The more logistical side of preparing for the event can be just as creative, but there’s a lot of information to familiarize yourself with first.

Burning Man is an exercise in Radical Self-reliance. A little forethought and planning goes a long way!

Greening Your Burn

Table of Contents

Leave No Trace

Practicing a Leave No Trace Ethic is simple: leave the place you visit the same or better than you found it; leave no trace of your having been there, so that others – human and animal – can enjoy the land the rest of the year.

Tips and Hints

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
For each item that you’re bringing to the playa, think through how you’re going to dispose of it. Have your camp tear-down well planned and practiced. Plan to send trash off the playa with campmates as they leave the event.

2. Reduce Packaging
Bringing less in means having less to haul out. Leave unnecessary packaging at home. Food often comes in layers of plastic and cardboard, but also cast a critical eye toward the toys and camping gear you’re bringing. Unpacking them before arriving on the playa spares you the hassle of bringing back styrofoam packing and shrinkwrap. Choose aluminum cans over bottles, and reusable containers over either of those. Read more in our Trash and Recycling section.

3. Rethink Your Food Portions
Prepare food in sensible quantities your group can finish at a single sitting — leftovers quickly become a liability. Coordinate with your campmates as far as what you’re bringing to minimize waste. If you’ve found yourself with a giant pot of chili and not enough campmates, invite neighbors over to finish it off. It beats creating a wet, heavy bag of trash that has to be packed into someone’s trunk.

4. Don’t Rush Packing and Departure
Don’t stress to hurry home. Long-term exposure to the playa will fatigue your body and impair decision-making. Also, when under pressure, we are all likely to make rushed decisions, miss details and leave things behind. If half of your campmates will have left already by Sunday, the folks left behind are going to have a lot more work to do. If someone has to catch a plane, make sure to start packing up even earlier than you think you have to, so that you aren’t tempted to leave before fully clearing your site.

5. MOOP Sweeps
As you’re packing your camp, have campmates walk repeatedly around your site picking up anything and everything that’s not part of the playa. Doing this periodically, through the week, will make it easier.

6. Do Not Use the Playa as Your Toilet
It’s unacceptable, unsanitary, and just plain gross the morning after.

7. Take Your Bikes Home
Do not leave behind your old bikes behind for us. We still have to dispose of them if you don’t, and it’s an expensive and time-consuming effort.

8. Be Aware of Very Small Items
No Trace really does mean no trace. Be conscious of spare nails or smaller trash particles that may be dismissed as too small for trash including: hair, matches, cigarette butts, feathers, zip ties. Remember food waste such as peanut shells, orange peels and egg shells are also trash. While you’re walking around the playa, make an effort to pocket all trash, including cigarette butts, and then empty your pockets into a trash bag later. After you pick up your trash to carry home, do a last-minute check of your site for cigarette butts, gum wrappers, etc. because many of those will be hidden under tarps, tents and vehicles.

9. Do Not Pour Leftover Gas on the Playa
This is toxic! You wouldn’t do this in your backyard, so don’t do it in ours.

10. Minimize Fire Impacts
Deserts like Black Rock are susceptible to burn scars which last a long time and are not easily cleared. Avoid creating a burn scar by not burning directly on the ground. Use a raised fire pit, or use fire shields to protect playa surface. Keep in mind that most non-natural materials (rugs, polyester, plastic, treated wood) are toxic when burned.

11. Minimize Playa Scars
Never ditch or build trenches around your tent because they can start soil erosion and create lasting scars. Make an effort to restore holes dug for tent stakes and anchors.

12. Do Not Take Artifacts
Artifacts should be turned into the Lost and Found in Center Camp with an EXACT location of where it was discovered. Many historical and archeological sites are found throughout Bureau of Land Management areas. Federal law prohibits disturbing historical and archeological sites or removing any objects from them.

13. Respect Wildlife
Do not harass wildlife. Remember, Burning Man is not a place for dogs or other pets. If you bring a pet to the playa outside of the Burning Man event, make certain to remove their waste just as you would your own.

Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do I have to take my trash all the way home? Not at all! There are several trash dumps and recycling facilities in the Reno area who will process your trash, cheaply and easily. Check their schedules and rates ahead of time, and put printed information in your car or truck before you leave home.

2. Where shouldn’t I leave my trash? It’s unfair to make someone else clean up after your party! Please do not dump your trash along the highways where locals or highway cleanup crews will have to deal with it. Do not leave trash at local businesses or road side rest stops – they have to pay for trash disposal and shouldn’t have to accommodate yours. This includes restaurant dumpsters, hotels, gas stations, or anywhere else that is private property. Do not leave your bags of trash on the playa either; the volunteers who stay to break down the city have more than enough to do already.

3. Why not just throw stuff into the Potties? If it wasn’t in your body, don’t put it in the potty. Items that aren’t human waste or single-ply toilet paper have a nasty tendency to clog up the machines that are used to clean the potties. When that happens, someone who’s actually working while we’re playing has to get in there and fish it out. Aside from being a lousy thing to make another person do, it means potties out of commission and not being cleaned for that much longer. And none of us want that!

4. Can I cook on a campfire? Campfires are not allowed at Burning Man, and that’s good because they erode the land. In fragile environments such as deserts, fire leaves scars for many years and depletes wood supplies. Modern backpacking stoves are economical and lightweight and provide fast, clean cooking. You can get camp stoves here.

5. Can I burn my trash? You can burn selected items at pre-approved burn platforms. These areas are indicated on your playa map. A lot of things that might seem safe to burn can actually be toxic – they release really nasty chemicals that might or might not be visible, but which will definitely do harm to you and others. Check the burn page in the environment for more detailed guidelines.

Resource Links
Want more ideas for your clean-up plan? Interested in the ethics and principles behind Leave No Trace? Check out these great links:

 

Next Page: Greening Your Camp

 

Leaving No Trace

Leaving No Trace is arguably Burning Man’s most important Principle. If we don’t uphold that one, no more Black Rock City. But Leaving No Trace is not just about the playa; it’s our ethic about the whole planet. Burners are environmentalists. It’s just our nature.

This section contains detailed guidelines and tips about how to leave no trace on the playa.

Last Year’s MOOP Map

Each year, the Playa Restoration Team makes a map of the Matter Out of Place (MOOP) left in Black Rock City after the event. (Read more about the 2018 MOOP map or learn about the DA’s Black Rock 2020 MOOPathon in the Burning Man Journal.)

 

Moop Map Legend

GREEN: Low Impact to No Impact Trace. The MOOP line moves at a normal walking pace, picking up very little.

YELLOW: Moderate Impact Trace. The line must slow down in order to pick up all the MOOP here.

RED: High Impact Trace. The line must stop to clean up hotspots or very moopy areas.

Lovelock

You may be parched, famished, and you might be sick of driving. Salt Lake City lies about 500 miles to the east; and Black Rock City is another 150 miles to the west. Yes, you’re almost there, but you still got a ways to go.

Set on the western edge of “Cowboy Country,” Lovelock is your only pit stop on I-80 for another 60 miles before you hit Fernley, so you may want to fill up on some gas, maybe grab a bed, a shower and some food, and even load up on many of the supplies to be found here at the local enterprises who enjoy our company and know our needs.

Why Stop in Lovelock

Well, the few reasons to stop are obvious — you need gas, food, some Lock Love, or one last shower before hitting Burning Man.

But another, really good reason is that Lovelock is the seat of Pershing County — the same county where Burning Man takes place — and therefore the town is an important and close neighbor to Black Rock City. If you have some time, stop in Lovelock, visit the sights there or nearby, and enjoy some of the local restaurants. Show them some love. Lovelock is by-and-large a somewhat conservative agricultural, mining, and services community  of 2400 people — but they are increasingly coming to love us and our arts and culture. So please remember that we are all Black Rock City diplomats and be respectful of and kind to our close neighbors.

And of special note to Lovelock’s and Burning Man’s growing relationship, major solar arrays have been installed at the Lovelock Elementary and High School, and at the Pershing County General Hospital by Black Rock Solar!

Navigating Lovelock

There are three exits for Lovelock on Interstate 80 two in each direction of travel. Westbound exit 107 then exit 106, eastbound exit 105 then exit 106. Cornell Ave parallels I-80 and exits 107 and 105 can be reached from Cornell. Exit 106 allows access to Main Street which intersects with Cornell at the only stoplight in Lovelock. In either direction exit 106 would be the “last chance” exit. Note: I-80 actually is North (eastbound) and South (westbound) through town.

In terms of bearings, CPunch is on the east side of town. Golden Gate Truck Stop and the Safeway are at or near the town’s center. Most of the businesses in the town can be found along the main stretch through town, which is Cornell Avenue; on Dartmouth and Broadway Streets, parallel to Cornell on either side; and on Main Street, which straddles all three of these streets and forms the town center.

Worth Checking Out

Lovelock’s historic round courthouse (400 Main Street) is said to be the only one of its kind in the nation still functioning as a courthouse, built in 1920-21 by Frederic Joseph DeLongchamps.

There is also a really kind of cool activity to be found here for people in marriage or other partnerships:  You can “Lock your Love” in the park next to the courthouse. A nice ritual for those so inclined, you just bring/buy a lock and “Lock Your Love” onto a fence designated for such purposes. It’s free beyond the price you pay for the lock and the infinite value of your love.

You also might want to check out the Marzen House Pershing County Museum — formerly the showplace and home of a wealthy rancher, now restored and chock full of nifty artifacts from Lovelock’s early days.

And, finally, where did the name come from?! Lovelock is named for George Lovelock, a Welsh immigrant who, in 1867, donated eighty-five acres for a town site and right-of-way for the transcontinental railroad and railway depot. And love stories have gathered there ever since…

For further information on Lovelock and the environs, here are some helpful links:

Pershing County website
Lovelock/Pershing County Chamber of Commerce
Nevada Rock Art
Nevada’s Cowboy Country

Explorations in the Area

Tufa rock formations are a sight to behold. These intricately textured shapes of towers, ledges, pillars and archways were geologically formed by algae in nearby prehistoric Lake Lahontan in the same way that blue-algae forms coral reefs. From downtown Lovelock drive north on Central Ave. Turn left on to Pitt Rd. and travel two and a half miles to an unmarked gravel road and then turn right. Drive slightly over a mile until you see the Tufa formations.

Lovelock Indian Cave, aka Bat Cave or Sunset Guano Cave is a limestone cavern, created by the waters of prehistoric Lake Lahontan. Home to indigenous peoples as far back as 2000 B.C., the oldest dated duck decoys in North America (1,250 to 1,980 years ago) were discovered here. It’s 160 feet wide by 40 feet deep. From Main St. in Lovelock go south on Amherst Ave., which turns into S.R. 397. Continue south until 397 dead ends into Derby Rd. Turn left and go east on Derby Rd. Eventually the road will turn right and go south. Shortly thereafter turn right on East Rd. Continue until this road dead ends at the cave.

A great place to stay is Rye Patch State Recreation Area: camping, picnic areas, hiking and water sports. Located 22 miles east of Lovelock off I-80, (775) 538-7321. Also in Rye Patch is the Gold Diggers’ Saloon. Burner friendly, the Saloon sports a very good selection of beers and a photo gallery on the wall. 2210 Rye Patch reservoir Road, Exit 129, 22 miles east of Lovelock, (775) 538-7000.

Chief Rolling Mountain Thunder Memorial: Feast your eyes on another fine roadside example of radical self-expression replete with statues of naked women and concrete totems. Created by Chief Thunder over a period of twenty years beginning in 1968, it is considered Nevada’s equivalent to the Watts Towers. He meant it as a tribute to Native Americans. Its main feature is a three-story house, composed of concrete, bottles, and assorted treasures retrieved from a nearby junkyard.

Located across the freeway from Imlay, about halfway between Lovelock and Winnemucca. Access is free, donations accepted for a volunteer effort to save the site from crumbling away.

Check out the Ghost town of Unionville, a mining boom town in the 1860’s with upwards of 1500 fortune seekers including reputedly, Mark Twain. Nestled in a region of mesmerizing high desert mountain ranges and remote valleys is a B&B—the Old Pioneer Garden Country Inn. 2805 Unionville Rd, Unionville, NV 89418 (775) 538-7585 or (800) 538-7556. Located on State highway 400, off I-80 about halfway between Lovelock and Winnemucca.

Vehicles at Burning Man

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

NSS Triton at Sunrise (Photo by Pmatt Freedman)

 

Want to learn what it takes to bring a Mutant Vehicle to Black Rock City? Go here.

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

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

Bicycles

(Photo by kate shay)

(Photo by kate shay)

Having a bicycle at Burning Man is crucial, if not essential, to your overall enjoyment and experience within Black Rock City. Given the rapid growth and expansion of the city in recent years, a pedal-powered means of navigation is a prudent, high-priority item when you’re packing.

But what kind of bike to bring?

Crummy is Cool

Do NOT bring a “good” bike to the event. Dig: the desert will reduce a valuable bike to a rust bucket posthaste. If you must use quality wheels, it’s wise to set aside some coin and time to have it serviced upon returning home–it’ll need the TLC. The playa is notoriously corrosive on unprotected metal, particularly after it rains. At the very least, take along some chain oil for spot lubrication. For improved traction and handling, wider tires generally work out better than road bike tires.

Wondering where to get a bike, or where you can get one fixed up? Try these local shops.

Shine a Light

Affixing a light of some kind to your bike is a critical element for safe travel after dark, especially on certain pedestrian-heavy streets outlining the city. Even on the open playa, where the occasional “dream weaver” may be unexpectedly ambling (or ensconced), a proper beacon could prevent serious injury to either yourself or an unsuspecting playa peregrinator.

Movin’ to the Groovin’

Help keep BRC beautiful: Decorate, adorn and bedeck your bike with the city’s most prized asset–your imagination. Turn your bike into transportational sculpture or just plain get wacky widdit! This is also a crafty way to avoid unwanted bicycle appropriation. By enhancing or fashioning your own unique two-wheeler, you will greatly reduce the likelihood of its undue disappearance, or will make it more swiftly identifiable and returnable.

Recycling Does Not Mean Repair

Please don’t bring your bike to Burning Man Recycling for repairs. They do not have the supplies, equipment or resources to service bikes. Bring your own tools, an extra inner tube or two, some wheel nuts, and be prepared to take care of any problems yourself.

Rack the Masses

If you’re planning a Theme Camp and figure on attracting a crowd, plan to make a bike rack as a courtesy to your neighbors and passers-by. Randomly strewn bikes in a concentrated area make for tricky, ankle-twisting avenues. Our reigning Duke of Construction for the Center Camp Café Racks provides this Bike Rack Construction Manual, featuring drawings, material list, and a step-by-step assembly procedure.

If You Stop It, Lock It

Unfortunately, even Burning Man isn’t safe from common — though no less contemptible — thievery, and bikes are an easy target. In the past, a good many bikes have been filched from around the bathrooms. (And you thought just the lines and the odor were bad!) It’s sad, trite, but true–Bring a lock and use it whenever you stop. A good tip: When not in use, secure your bike to your car using a steel cable, running the cable through the tow hook loops on either the front or rear frame bar.

Love ‘Em… and Please Don’t Leave ‘Em

Leave no trace. A bike is a BIG trace. Somehow it’s become a common myth (playa legend, perhaps?) that it’s perfectly acceptable to leave your bike behind upon striking your camp. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you pack it in, pack it out!