What is Burning Man and Why Should You Go?

Creations made at Burning Man 2018, only there during the festival.
Creations made at Burning Man 2018, only there during the festival.

Nevada’s Burning Man Festival: It’s an epiphany. It’s primal. It’s newborn. But what is it?

By Molly Steenson

Photo by David Peterman of Jumping Brides at Burning Man 2005
Jumping brides on the Playa at Burning Man in 2004.Photo: Juan Carlos Pometta Betancourt.

Hurtling down the road to the Black Rock Desert, the colors paint themselves like a spice cabinet — sage, dust, slate gray.

Maybe you’re in your trusty car, the one that takes you to and from work every day. Perhaps you’ve got a spacious RV, your Motel 6 on wheels for the next days in the desert. Or you’re driving your glittering art car, complete with poker chips and mirroring to do a disco ball proud.

The two-lane highway turns off onto a new road. You drive slowly onto the playa, the 400 square mile expanse known as the Black Rock Desert. And there you’ve touched the terrain of what feels like another planet. You’re at the end — and the beginning — of your journey to Burning Man.

Weirdest Kid in the Classroom

You belong here and you participate. You’re not the weirdest kid in the classroom — there’s always somebody there who’s thought up something you never even considered. You’re there to breathe art. Imagine an ice sculpture emitting glacial music — in the desert. Imagine the man, greeting you, neon and benevolence, watching over the community. You’re here to build a community that needs you and relies on you.

You’re here to survive. What happens to your brain and body when exposed to 107-degree heat, moisture wicking off your body and dehydrating you within minutes? You know and watch yourself. You drink water constantly and piss clear. You’ll want to reconsider drinking that alcohol (or taking those other substances) you brought with you — the mind-altering experience of Burning Man is its own drug.

You slather yourself in sunblock before the sun’s rays turn up full blast. You bring enough food, water, and shelter because the elements of the new planet are harsh, and you will find no vending.

You’re here to create. Since nobody at Burning Man is a spectator, you’re here to build your own new world. You’ve built an egg for shelter, a suit made of light sticks, a car that looks like a shark’s fin. You’ve covered yourself in silver, you’re wearing a straw hat and a string of pearls, or maybe a skirt for the first time. You’re broadcasting Radio Free Burning Man — or another radio station.

Randal Alan Smith, AKA "Furtographer," is as wonderful in front of the lens as he is behind it. Photo: Juan Carlos Pometta Betancourt.
Randal Alan Smith, AKA “Furtographer,” is as wonderful in front of the lens as he is behind it. Photo: Juan Carlos Pometta Betancourt.

You’re here to experience. Ride your bike in the expanse of nothingness with your eyes closed. Meet the theme camp — enjoy Irrational Geographic, relax at Bianca’s Smut Shack, and eat a grilled cheese sandwich. Find your love and understand each other as you walk slowly under a parasol. Wander under the veils of dust at night on the playa.

You’re here to celebrate. On Saturday night, we’ll burn the Man. As the procession starts, the circle forms, and the man ignites, you experience something personal, something new to yourself, something you’ve never felt before. It’s an epiphany, it’s primal, it’s newborn. And it’s completely individual.

You’ll leave as you came. When you depart from Burning Man, you leave no trace. Everything you built, you dismantle. The waste you make and the objects you consume leave with you. Volunteers will stay for weeks to return the Black Rock Desert to its pristine condition.

But you’ll take the world you built with you. When you drive back down the dusty roads toward home, you slowly reintegrate to the world you came from. You feel in tune with the other dust-covered vehicles that shared the same community. Over time, vivid images still dance in your brain, floating back to you when the weather changes.

The Burning Man community, whether your friends, your new acquaintances or the Burning Man project, embraces you. At the end, though your journey to and from Burning Man is finished, you embark on a different journey — forever.

Q. What is Burning Man?

A. Burning Man is an annual experiment in temporary community dedicated to radical self-expression and radical self-reliance. Check out What Is Burning Man on this web site for more information, read the other articles on this site and visit other web sites for a broader understanding of the Burning Man event. Before you contemplate attending, you probably want to read our Survival Guide—it’s not as easy as it looks! If you wish to truly understand and comprehend Burning Man, you need to attend the event — it’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced!

Q. Where is Burning Man held?
A. Burning Man will be held in the Black Rock Desert, 120 miles north of Reno, Nevada. The towns of Empire and Gerlach serve as guardians of the desert region.

Q. What are the dates for the event?
A. Burning Man is always held the week prior to and including Labor Day weekend.

Q. What night does the Man burn?
A. Saturday night before Labor Day.

Q. What are the themes of the festival?
A. Past themes have included Fertility, Time, Hell, Outer Space, The Body, The Floating World, Beyond Belief, the Vault of Heaven, and Psyche. The theme for 2006 was Hope and Fear.

For Burning Man Ticket Information, please go here: tickets.burningman.com

Q. How much is a ticket for my child?

A. A. Children 12 and under accompanied by a parent will be admitted for free. Children between 13-18 require full-price tickets. Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian over 21 years of age. If you plan to bring a child, please read the Kids at Burning Man survival guide.

Lamplighters at Burning Man. photo by Steve Schwartz. ss@mustangdreams.com
Lamplighters at Burning Man. photo by Steve Schwartz.

Q. Are the gates to the event open 24 hours?
A. Yes. However, the gates will be closed to incoming traffic after 6 p.m. on Saturday, prior to the burn of the Man.

Q. Will I be able to leave and return to the event?
A. While leaving Black Rock City during the event and returning to the real world will probably be the last thing on your mind, in and out passes are available at the gate for $20.

If you leave without receiving a pass, you will not be able to return without paying the full price for a ticket again. Of course, emergencies do arise — sundries must be purchased, offices must be called. For these, we encourage you to avail yourself of our daily $5 bus service to Empire and Gerlach. See the Preparation section of this FAQ for further information.

Q. Does the event sell out, or have a limit in size?
A. We do not expect the event to sell out. However, ticket sales are brisk and limits may be imposed at some point. Because tickets rise in price throughout the year, we encourage you to purchase your tickets early. Up to date information is available on the Jack Rabbit Speaks newsletter.

Q. We would like to visit Burning Man, but can only spend part of the day there. Are you selling 1-day or 2-day passes at the gate?
A. Burning Man is an experiment in temporary community. Relationships are created, neighbors meet one another, and our collective survival is challenged. This is not a spectator event. It is difficult for you to take a role in the community if you are in Black Rock City for less than 24 hours. In order to experience the true essence of Burning Man, you will want to become part of the community.

Therefore, there are no day passes sold, and no discounts are given based on your length of stay. Of course, it is not necessary that you come for the entire week. You are welcome to arrive early in the week and stay for just a portion of the event.


Q. What should I bring?

A. Thank you for asking the million-dollar question. Burning Man is an exercise in radical self-sufficiency. You have to bring all you need to survive, and then some. Some people bring only the basics; others bring everything including the kitchen sink.

  • Water, food and shelter are imperative — you will be asked to turn around at the gate if gate personnel believe you cannot meet your basic survival needs. Carefully read the Survival Guide, and prepare accordingly.
  • After you have taken care of your survival, everything else is up to you.
  • If you are fond of sleep, earplugs are a participant’s best friend.
  • A bicycle (with a bike light) is vital for enjoying our vast and burgeoning metropolis.
  • For maximum enjoyment of the event, bring toys or costumes with which you can express your creative spirit.

Q. What can I buy once I get there?
A. Burning Man is a commerce-free event.

  • There are only two things sold in Black Rock City: coffee and ice, both found in Center Camp. Profits from ice sales are given directly to the communities of Empire and Gerlach. Check out the 2003 Afterburn Report for Camparctica to see the exact distribution of monies. Profits from the café go directly to the commissary to sustain the onsite nutritional needs of our kick-ass staff.
  • You need to bring ALL supplies, food, water and tools you will need for survival in a harsh environment. No food or sundry items are sold anywhere in Black Rock City.
  • If you forget something vital, your best bet is to make friends with your neighbors.
  • If you really need something, we will provide a daily shuttle to the Empire General Store for $5. Tickets for the bus will be available for purchase in Center Camp. The Bus Depot location is on the outer edge of the Center Camp Circle, on Ring Road clockwise 50 yards from the 6 o’clock exit from Center Camp. You must be fully clothed and sober to ride the bus. Be warned: the Empire General Store is a small store, supporting a community of less than 500 people. They have a minimal selection of goods for purchase!

Q. What can I expect from the weather?
A. In Nevada, there is a saying: if you don’t like the weather, stick around for five minutes and it will change. Only one thing is completely predictable about the weather in the Black Rock Desert: Unpredictability. For forecasts and such, check out the weather from neaby Gerlach.

  • Be prepared for volatile extremes, and ready for anything and everything. Come with ample shade producing shelter, warm clothes and sleeping gear, and lots of water. Please read our Survival Guide.
  • Temperatures by day have been known to exceed 100 degrees.
  • Pre-dawn temperatures can approach freezing.
  • Thunderstorms and dust storms arise with breathtaking swiftness, transforming the playa into a gigantic mud puddle in a matter of moments.
  • Winds are often 20-30 mph under normal conditions, and winds from 40-70mph can be felt during a storm. You are advised to secure your tent, shade structure and loose items in preparation for this possibility. We encourage you to visit: Securing your Structure for valuable information about creating a weather-worthy campsite. Rebar is your best friend!
  • While the weather in late August/early September is usually warm, it can be downright arctic. Participants at Burning Man have witnessed many freezing-ass-cold evenings and daytime temperatures in the mid-70s. In 1999, many longtime participants found themselves unprepared for a week’s worth of high winds and low temperatures. When it comes to the weather at Burning Man, it’s much better to be over-prepared.


Q: I hear there will be no driving on the playa; how will I get to my campsite?
A: You may drive to your camping spot, but do not plan to use your vehicle as transportation on the playa for the duration of your stay. This is a serious safety issue and will be strictly enforced. No driving will be allowed without a Burning Man DMV permit.

Q: Can I camp next to my car?
A: You can, and you should keep your auto at your campsite. Do not use it for transport around our city — this is one of the conditions for camping here. Black Rock City is fully accessible by bicycle or on foot. Your access to our city implies an understanding of this rule. You may be required to leave if you violate this policy. The sole exception for this is art cars. If you would like to drive your art car during the event, you will need to register with the Black Rock City DMV (Department of Mutant Vehicles) dmv(at)burningman(dot)com.

Q.Where is the closest airport?

A. The nearest commercial airport with scheduled service is Reno International, 127 miles away. Many participants also fly from the Bay Area (San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose are about 350 miles from the event). Keep in mind that you will be flying on Labor Day weekend, and flights fill up quickly and are often expensive. General aviation aircraft may land on the playa at the temporary Black Rock Airport which is adjacent to the event. Small aircraft planning to land at Black Rock City must contact the Airport Manager at airport(at)burningman(dot)com well in advance.

Search for Airbnbs near Black Rock City

Q. I’m coming from the East Coast and can’t rent a car. What kind of transportation do you provide from Reno?
A. You are responsible for getting yourself to the event. Currently, Burning Man provides no service between Reno and Gerlach. However, there are some options.

  • Leave a message on the regional section of our E-Playa Bulletin Board, especially the Reno ride share bulletin board to arrange a ride.
  • Many people who arrive at the small Reno airport look around to find others that seem to be Burning Man bound. Those that trust serendipity and do find a ride from the airport should expect to share costs for gasoline and car rental.
  • You are still responsible for all of your water, food and shelter needs.
  • True story: in 1996, a Reno cab pulled up to the gates of Black Rock City with two young women who had negotiated a ride from the Reno airport. While the cost will be astronomical, it might be less expensive than renting a car for the week. You just might find a cabbie crazy enough to do this…

Q: What is the policy with regard to Recreational Vehicles (RV’s)?
A: RV’s are fine. Remember, this is wilderness camping and there are no hookups. Do not discharge gray water or sewage. RV servicing logistics may differ from last year. Stay tuned for details, and read the RV Survival Guide.


Q. What is a Theme camp?
A. A very good question, indeed. It’s an interactive camp designed by the camp members with the intention of engaging participants. More information can be found in the Theme Camp & Villages section. Theme camps are located throughout Black Rock City. Assigned placement comes after approved advanced registration. Though registration is not at all required, only registered theme camps will be cited on the city map. Those who register early get choice spots and placement on the map. For registration deadlines, visit Theme Camps.

Q. What is a Village?
A. Yet another fine question. Villages are a natural outgrowth of the theme camp and more information can be found Theme Camp section of this site.

Q. How do I register my theme camp or village?
A. Please read all the information in the Theme Camp & Villages and you will find the appropriate questionnaire.

Q. Should I join a theme camp or village ahead of time, or when I arrive?
A. It is not at all necessary that you join either a theme camp or village. Whether we do or not, we ask you to find a way to participate; theme camps and villages involve teamwork and group participation. If you have an idea for a theme camp, consider creating one yourself. It is not even necessary to register a theme camp — many groups choose to fly under the official radar. If you are planning on having a large and unregistered camp, you will probably want to arrive earlier in the week to secure a space.

Q. Can I create a large art installation?
A. Absolutely. You can either build your installation as part of your camp, or place your art on the open playa. Be advised that the open playa is not available for vehicles (except for installation purposes) or camping. If you’d like to stay near your installation you may want to build it as part of your camp. The area facing the city is open playa and you are welcome to install art in this space. If you are planning on creating an art installation on the open playa, please the Art Installation section.

Q. Are there pre-assigned places for theme camps and art installations?
A. This year, we will continue to endeavor to place all registered theme camps, who will then be mapped and assigned a space prior to arrival on the playa. The same goes for art installations on the open playa. Therefore, it is best to register your theme camp, village or art installation early. Registration is not a prerequisite for creating an art installation or theme camp — much of the best art is found in unexpected places!

Q. I have some handmade crafts that I’d like to sell in order to cover my travel costs. Where can I set this up?
A. Burning Man has survived and flourished through sharing, trading and the giving of the gift of yourself. We have found the buying and selling of goods is a distraction to connecting and creating relationships. Selling is a transaction-based activity. Other than the Cafe and ice in Center Camp, there is NO VENDING at Burning Man. Participants who are found vending will be asked to leave.

Q. I’d like to play on the main stage, how can I get there?
A. There is no Main Stage at Burning Man.

  • We encourage you to create your own stage or network with a like-minded theme camp who might like to feature your group. Post to our Eplaya Bulletin Board.
  • Theme Camps and Villages who are planning a stage should work with other artists (musicians & performers) to fully utilize their space.
  • We will have acoustic music and performances at the Center Camp Café. We are looking for performers and artists of all sorts to contribute their talents.

Q. What about amplified music at Burning Man?
A. Amplified music is a favored method of participation and self-expression at Burning Man, and one that influences a large number of people. Of course, Larry Harvey has a few things to say about this. Check out this interview with him from the Summer 2000 Newsletter.

  • We are asking that amplified music in camps be kept at a reasonable level.
  • Large scale sound art/systems MUST register for placement.
  • This year, large scale sound systems are restricted to those camps located along the 2:00 and 10:00 axes.
  • Sound systems should be no bigger than 300 watts.
  • Sound levels produced by any electronic system or device should not exceed 90 decibels outside of a camp or village.
  • Sound levels emitted from any camp should not cause serious disruption to adjacent camps.
  • To get the full skinny, check out the sound policies here.

Q: Where is the rave this year?
A: Burning Man is not a rave, and has not had a rave camp since 1996. While our ranks include many individuals from the Rave/techno community, they are not the majority. Burning Man is an experiment in temporary community, and one that is radically all-inclusive. Yes, this includes ravers. Be warned though: If your principal interest in our event is centered on the rave experience, and you won’t be happy unless you’re cozied up next to an extremely large speaker, Burning Man is probably not for you.


Q. How is the event laid out?
A. Black Rock City is organized as 2/3 of a circle. There are axes on each half hour, from 2:00 to 10:00, intersecting with ten concentric semi-circles. You will be given a map of the city upon your arrival. Center Camp (the center for civic activities) is in the middle of the curve, and the man is a little over 1/4 mile north out from the center. You can usually find the map online after August 5. Check out the archive of previous years in What is Burning Man for previous maps.

Q: Can I reserve a campsite?
A: No. While there are clearly marked roadways, there are no “camping sites,” other than the spaces previously allotted for pre-placed theme camps and art installations. Those awarded placement have applied in advance. Come early if you need space to add friends.

Q: Is there a quiet place to camp?
A: Like all cities in Nevada, Burning Man is alive 24 hours a day, and with the extreme heat during the day, much of the activity takes place at night. We ask that each person respect their neighbor. If you are fond of quiet for sleeping, we recommend earplugs.

Q: I heard something about “low-density camping.” What’s that?
A: The area on the backside of the city will be reserved for those that wish to leave their car and portage belongings away from the outside road. This vehicle-free area will by default become low-density. Cars will be left in a parking area nearby. No moving vehicles will be allowed in this area.

Q. What kind of facilities do you provide for those in a wheelchair?
A. We are wheelchair friendly and provide several wheelchair accessible bathrooms. Additionally, you can contact playawheels(at)burningman(dot)com with questions.

Q. Are there toilets?
A. Yes, we distribute 400 porta-potties around the city for general public use and another 50 in special locations throughout the city (like the Airport, medical facility, etc), in addition to some in Empire and Gerlach. The potties are serviced on a continuous and rotating basis, 24 hours a day during the event. We do our very best to keep them clean and stocked with toilet paper.

Participants should expect lines to the potties in the morning, or when a big event is happening within a specific quadrant of the city. It is always possible to find less used potties, in less populated areas. Participants are also encouraged to use empty bottles or buckets to urinate in. These containers can be emptied (though the container may NOT BE DISCARDED) into potties.

NOTHING other than human waste is to be put into a pottie toilet. This year we are encouraging participants to think of the porta-potties as if they were your own home toilets. ONLY HUMAN WASTE or TOILET PAPER should go into them. Previously numerous discarded items in porta-potties caused tremendous problems and prevented the timely cleaning of the potties. It has also threatened our ability to dump this waste locally and in Reno, NV. Please do not discard any trash or any non-human-waste items into the potties. Respecting the purpose of the potties effects the long term sustainability of Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert.

Q. What about medical emergencies?
A. We encourage radical self-reliance and first aid kits. However, Burning Man is a challenging event in a harsh desert location, and medical needs do arise. Burning Man contracts with REMSA (Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority), a Reno-based emergency services provider. REMSA is located in Center Camp, and is manned 24 hours a day. Minor medical needs can be handled at one of the Ranger Outposts throughout the city. If there is a serious medical emergency, and the participant cannot be moved, contact a Black Rock Ranger for assistance. Ambulances and helicopter transportation to the hospitals in Reno is on call, if needed.

Q. So what’s the deal with fire?
A. Fire and open flame within theme camps.

Everyone enjoys a campfire to gather around or the light of a tiki torch to guide them back to camp at night but fire and open flame present a unique set of challenges on the playa. The wind is an ever-present aspect of the Black Rock desert and must be taken into consideration. Winds can blow sparks and embers out of fire barrels and blow them across the open playa great distances until they settle against something (tents, shade structures, camping gear, artworks, etc). Wind is also a factor with tiki torches and taller flame effects. Precautions should be taken to prevent the wind from knocking them over and a sufficient perimeter around them kept clear from flammables. To help you prepare for and use an open flame or flame effects in your camp we have created these guidelines to help keep your camp safe and to protect the safety of participants please read them thoroughly.

Guidelines for an open flame, burn barrels, Tiki torches etc within theme camps:

  1. No fire barrels or open flames shall be left unattended. At least one camp member will be designated fire tender and be within visual distance at all times. If found unattended while lit, open flames or burn barrels may be extinguished and/or confiscated if there is sufficient hazard.
  2. If winds pick up, all open flames must be put out immediately and burn barrels must be extinguished if they begin to throw sparks.
  3. Open flame above 10 feet tall shall be secured from the wind and safety perimeter increased appropriately.
  4. Open flames or burn barrels must be extinguished at the request of any Ranger or Emergency Services personnel.
  5. A 20’ Zone around the fire must be free of any flammable materials such as but not limited to: cloth, paper, tents, plastic, etc.
  6. All liquid fuels must be kept at least 50’ away. Please check out the guidelines for the storage of fuels at Burning man.
  7. A supply of at least 5 Gl of water must be kept on hand to extinguish the fire in case of high winds (wind can blow embers and sparks a long distance on the playa!) or other hazards.
  8. Burn barrels shall be secured and constructed in a way that the burning surface is at least 6″ from the playa to prevent baking or scarring of the playa surface.
  9. Note: please remember that Gasoline is a dangerous fuel to use to start fires. Explosive vapors can instantly build up as it is applied and as the fire is lit it can flash and burn you!

Guidelines for flame effects within theme camps:

  1. No large scale flame effects using 40 or more gallons of fuel or burning of large art installations that when fully engulfed in flames produce a tremendous amount of heat requires a Burn Shield Platform.
  2. No pressurized liquid fuels are to be used within the camping area.
  3. Flame effects shall be secured and constructed in a way that the burning surface is at least 6″ from the playa to prevent baking or scarring of the playa surface.
  4. If winds pick up, all flame effects must be put out.
  5. Flame effects above 10 feet tall shall be secured from the wind and safety perimeter increased appropriately.
  6. Flame effects must be extinguished at the request of any Ranger or Emergency Services personnel.
  7. If found unattended while lit, flame effects may be extinguished and/or confiscated if there is sufficient hazard.
  8. A 20’ zone around the flame effect must be free of any flammable materials such as but not limited to: cloth, paper, tents, plastic, etc.
  9. An appropriate safe perimeter will be maintained at all times to prevent injury to participants.
  10. No flame effect shall be left unattended. At least one camp member will be designated fire effect operator and be within visual distance at all.

Q. What is the policy on taking pictures?
A. Film and video cameras are forbidden without permission. All video cameras must be registered and tagged. This is to protect the privacy of participants and artists alike. Use Agreement forms for personal video cameras will be available upon arrival at the Gate, the Greeter’s Station or Playa Info. If you are considering filming or videotaping for professional purposes, you must have a commercial agreement on file with the Media Team prior to your arrival on site. Commercial use of images taken at Burning Man without permission is subject to cunning legal action and punishable by death. This includes amateurs and professionals who capture images. Click here for further information.

Q. Is there any place to hook up my RV? Can I link into the festival’s power grid?
A. Whoa, Betty! The power grid in Center Camp is for the civic entities like the Rangers, Newspaper, and Radio Station. You will need to use your on-board generator. Out of consideration of your neighbors, we recommend using your generator sparingly.

Q: Can I bring my dog?
A: NO! Do your pet a favor, and leave them at home. While people love Burning Man, dogs have a really bad time. Pets are 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. Nearby ranch owners will also shoot stray animals. As of 2003 Burning Man is a NO DOGS event. This is for both the wellbeing and safety of all participants and their four-legged friends. Please read our section on dogs and other pets, “The Pet Unfriendly Playa“. Send any questions to dogs(at)burningman(dot)com.

Q. How do I get around from camp to camp?
A. Black Rock City is a pedestrian-friendly city that is easy to navigate with a bicycle or on foot. We encourage you to decorate your transportation. You may not drive your car at the event. This is a serious safety issue – moving cars create large clouds of dust, reducing visibility dramatically. Please recognize the importance of this rule. The sole exception to the no-driving rule is art cars/mutant vehicles, which must receive a permit from the Black Rock City DMV (Department of Mutant Vehicles). For more information, contact dmv(at)burningman(dot)com, or read through the Vehicles at Burning Man section of this web site.

Q: How will I find my friends once I arrive?
A: Ideally, pick a meeting point and time in advance. However, there are several onsite resources for locating friends:

  • If your friends are in a registered theme camp, its location should be indicated on the city map you will be given at the Gate.
  • There will be a map called the “Dynamic Board” at Greeters where you can post the location of your camp once you have established your location.
  • The Digital Directory is a computerized directory of BRC camps and addresses. It is located at Playa Info in Center Camp, and also can be accessed through PlayaNet terminals located throughout the city.
  • Playa Info (our information booth) is located in Center Camp. The Burning Man Directory is located there. It is a sort of phone book of ALL participants who want to use the service. Feel free to drop by Playa Info and register with them.
  • Burning Bell Message Center, also located in Center Camp (next to Playa Info), will have a large Find-A-Camp board for flyers and offers a paper-based messaging service. You can leave and receive messages with Burning Bell from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Q: I have a family member who is ill, and I may need to be contacted in the event of an emergency, what can I tell them to do to reach me?

A: If there is a death in the family or similar circumstance that necessitates a family member to contact you, they can call information in Northern Nevada and get the phone number for the Burning Man office. The resources listed above will be used to find the needed party. We will do our best, but cannot guarantee we will find you.

Q. What about trash disposal? Will there be a dumpster for me to toss my trash into on the way out of Black Rock City?
A. NO. Nein, negatory, absolutely not under any circumstances. Did we mention that we have NO trash disposal?

  • You are responsible for removing all waste you bring into Black Rock City. This includes cigarette butts, boa feathers, pistachio shells, and couches.
  • When preparing your belongings and planning the construction of your campsite prior to arrival, keep in mind that you will have to bring everything back with you. For tips on minimize packaging, click here.
  • Separating your garbage makes it easier to get home. Learn from the master, Stuart Mangrum here.
  • While we do not have garbage disposal, we do have Recycling Camp, conveniently located in Center Camp. Recycling Camp takes donations of aluminum cans and donates them to the Gerlach High School for their fundraising efforts. Learn more about Recycling Camp here.
  • You must dispose of your waste properly. Do not leave trash in Gerlach, at rest stops or along the side of the highway. Westbound participants will find the Lockwood dump, located just east of Reno, open on Monday… yes it is Labor Day, but they will be open for Burning Man participants. Directions will be in the Black Rock Gazette. For more information about the garbage disposal, see the Environment section.

Q: Why are there so many rules?
A: There are rules, but they are few and very simple.

  • The rules relate to our collective survival. During our first years in the desert when our population was relatively small, our exclusive focus was on individual survival. As our numbers have grown, we have extended this concern to the equally immediate issue of survival on a societal scale.
  • Burning Man has never been an anarchist underground. It is an open society of activists and the rules we promulgate—mostly relating to fire in our campground, the role of the automobile, and care for the environment—are aimed at ensuring the survival of every individual in a public world that all of us join in creating.
  • Burning Man is not a bureaucracy. Our rules relate to immediate issues immediate like brush fires and car crashes, and long-term issues such as land use. We are a radically free community and it’s time for us to take responsibility for preserving that freedom.
  • If you can’t agree to our rules, feel free to start your own event!

Q: My question wasn’t answered here — is there someone who can help?
A: Try contacting questions(at)burningman(dot)com and they will do their best!

This article is excerpted from and all links go to the Burning Man website, all copyright 2006

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