Shaman Randal's Travel Stories

Personal Tips From One Veteran Burner

rainbowIn 1998, Burning Man returned to Federal Land in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. The city was laid out in a semi-circle around the man and the streets were named after the Monopoly board. That was my first year. I've been every year since. For all the talk of Burning Man getting too big or too commercial, in 2007 I noted that everything was still there; a newcomer could have the same first year that I had in '98.

This is didactic as hell, but I hope it's also informative and entertaining.

In no particular order:

Above All:

Fully read the Burning Man Survival Guide inside and out. This has been formulated for your health and happiness over the years.  You can read it as web pages on the site, or download it in  PDF version (18mb). If you bought a ticket and registered your address in time, a printed version will be mailed to you.

Don't Bring:

  • Dogs
  • Fireworks
  • Firearms
  • Illicit drugs
  • Glass containers
  • Nuts, in the shells
  • Couches or carpets , unless you are prepared to haul them out again, caked with mud. No Burning!


Nevada surprisingly has Zero Tolerance for marijuana and distribution (or selling) of drugs.  Even though they love nicotine, alcohol, gambling and prostitution.  If law enforcement smells smoke coming from your tent or trailer, they can search.  

viceI've been biking back to camp in the morning to find the Federal Agents searching an entire camp because they found two camp-mates smoking pot out in the darkness of mid-playa.  Keep your sleeping shelters distinct. If you all sleep in the same dome, they can search everyone's gear within that shelter.

Regardless, you will meet many folks on Ecstasy.  Be warned that serotonin drugs interfere with your awareness of body heat.  You can bake yourself. Again, alcohol and nicotine are the favorite vices in Nevada.  DRINK 3 glasses of water for every one alcohol.

If you look under 35 and want to drink, carry your state I.D. in a luggage tag tied to your pants at all times. Community bars can get in legal trouble for serving alcohol to anyone under 21, even camp mates, even for free, and even your own kids. Nevada is serious about this.

Don't try to sneak-into the city like a Smelly Hippie. The perimeter is patrolled for a two-mile radius around the event. Yes, with night vision. Cars are searched at the gate (sometimes rudely) for stowaways and banned items.

Sex: Nude-not-lewd is fine anywhere in public. Food servers don't have to legally shun you for being naked. Don't leave "skid marks" on anybody's couch. Women tend to wear panties, unless fully painted. Fetish gear is OK. Guys over 40 look creepy wearing a shirt and no pants. I call them "Porky Pigs", but it's popularly known as "Shirt-Cocking." It's also ubiquitous. Mark your bingo card when you spot a naked straight guy under 30.

Anything actually sexual must happen in private, or behind a partition, with a door person to keep minors out. They say not to be naked near Kidsville, but I don't even know where that is.

I've heard of citations for indecent exposure for pissing. You never know what might happen.

Water of Life

Water left behindDon't bring too much water.  They used to say 2.5 gallons per person per day, but you would have to do a lot of solar showers to use that much.  See if you can calculate washing water for the entire camp as a group (dishes, bathing), then bring 8-10 gallons of drinking water for yourself.  

I like Crystal Geyser in the wide-mouth gallon because you can close it between uses. I buy it at the Wallgreens on the freeway bridge in Sparks (next to Reno) to save cargo weight. Those 2.5 gallon suitcases of water need to poke a hole for good flow, and that lets the dust in, or gets tipped over and leaks, leaving a slithery mud puddle that won't dry for days. But I do like to use the large containers as a spigot for the dish washing basin. On Saturday, go around and scavenge other people's overstock of water if you run out.  Recycle your ice cooler drainage for bathing if the contents are clean.

Doing the Dishes

kitchenWash your dishes (and body, and everything else) in Dr. Bronner's liquid soap.  I like to wash dishes in a bus-boy tray or any small tub. Don't mind eating the dust that builds up on your clean dishes; you're already ingesting it through your lungs.  It's a healthy tonic when taken for just a week or less.  Bring one washable dish for each person.  Wash it IMMEDIATELY after use or it will cake with clay.  Carry a plastic goblet or a sports bottle for drinks you are offered.  Carry water at all times.  Drink brine once a day.  Think of dinnerware that will go with your costume.  I carry silver platters with my SteamPunk outfit.


The department of health responsible for the event (yes they're watching too), doesn't allow public baths because of water safety issues. You're on your own for bathing, unless someone brought enough fresh water for everyone, and got a health permit to go with it.

I like to sponge-bathe in Dr. Bronners' mint soap in the heat of the day.  I bring plenty of small rags that can be wrung out to dry before they cake with dust. Remove make-up with a rag and lotion before sponge bath or solar shower.  Don't let shower water run onto the playa surface.  The mud will never dry during the event. You'll be surprised how cold you get when you try to bathe at night.

Body odor isn't that critical. In this unique atmosphere, you can no longer smell yourself--or anything at all besides black smoke, onions, and bacon.

You may want to give-up on your hair. It will be caked with dry powder after the first 2 hours, and only an authentic shower can clean it. Plan on beach braids, hats and wigs. I like to wash my head by dipping in a bowl. That lets the dust settle to the bottom of the water.

Many people run out into the street naked and chase the road-watering truck (plainly marked "Non-Potable") for a free shower. Nobody cringes because we know that the water came from a nearby spring. It's safe for a dip, but don't drink it because it's high in radon and arsenic.


piss artDon't leave anything in the porta-potties unless you personally digested it.  Trash, baby-wipes, and even durable toilet paper clog the potty servicing equipment, and threatens the long-term survival of the event.

If you have an R.V., there's a potty servicing truck patrolling just for you! (for a price). See details on the official site.

Wiggle when you piss in the middle of nowhere at night, or draw designs.  Don't leave a "playa lilly" on the ground for someone to step in.  It never dries. Women should use pee funnels.  Really. NEVER drop a deuce on the ground. Nobody gets paid enough to pick that up, and plenty of people walk barefoot at night.

When you see someone heading into the potty with a beer in-hand, you can bet it's not coming out again. Whether left on the bench, or dropped into the hole, that fucktard is about to litter the potty. Without getting kicked in the face, take appropriate action. "Did you forget something?" Throw it between the booths if you must, but if that ends up in the tank it's gonna piss-off the turd burglar crew.

It rubs the lotion on its skin

make-upBring sun screen and your favorite lotion.  Don't bring insect repellent.  There are only 2 bugs on the playa: tiny moths attracted to bright lights, and praying mantis.  The worst of the chafing and drying happens in the COLD weather, when you stop sweating.  

Get a 'base-coat" tan if you are prone to that.  If you burn easy, then carry a parasol at all times when the sun isn't blotted out by a dust storm. Wear a sun hat with a strap when biking.

Salt is Currency in the Desert

IVSea salt: any style.  Shake salt on all your food, and make electrolyte drinks with spring water, sea salt, lemon, and just enough honey to get it down your throat.  Don't use distilled water because it has already been robbed of trace minerals.  You need salts in order to digest.  I've seen people swill water and barf it back up because they didn't get enough salt.  After that, the only option is a saline IV at the Med tent, and the EMT's there sometimes don't believe you when you insist you need emergency care.

Monitor everyone you meet for signs of dehydration, including choppy speech, irritability, vomiting, shaking, chills, and unexplainable crying and loss of hope. Don't be alarmed if you forget to pee in the daytime. Your body is just hoarding all fluid. If you pee all night, you are doing OK.

Best dietary supplements:

  • FoodB-complex and iron for resistance to heat and cold.
  • Milk Thistle to keep the liver clean when you inhale random smoke, or when you drink.
  • Vitamin C for social exposure
  • Did I mention the sea salt?

Rare Public Utilities

Camps that have been placed in the very privileged village known as Center Camp are provided with shared electricity via a group diesel generator. BMan organizers realized that it's too dense there to have everyone running individual power generators.  Everywhere else, you are on your own.  Maybe your camp has organized a power generator, or maybe one of your camp members came in a RV. 

greenThere's a village called Alternative Energy Camp in Hushville.  They don't allow any gas-powered generators.  They use wind, solar, human-power, etc.  Be inspired by them.

I'm spoiled by Center Camp.  I like having power to recharge my AA NiMH batteries for camera and for LED flashlights.  I also plug in a Japanese rice cooker so our entire camp gets "rice-on-tap" whenever they need it.

M.O.O.P. and Schwag

schwagDon't bring anything that will "MOOP" [Matter Out Of Place]: feathers, leaves, loose threads, tinsel, cotton balls, loose old sequins, rice, confetti, massive amounts of glitter. Don't let anything smaller and lighter than a penny escape in the wind.  Even organic counts because there is NO compost on the playa.  There is nothing alive in the mud; it is inhospitable to insects and bacteria.  In 2001, we searched the site of the 1998 event and found orange rinds and other food scraps still intact like mummies.

Pick up glow sticks at night, when you can still see them.

Carry a ziplock at all times to gather other people's mess when you see it. Carry another bag to collect all the schwag people hand out. It's like a trade show sometimes.

I tend to collect about 50 pieces of schwag (the stuff people gift as a memento of interaction). Stickers, necklaces, lighters, CD's, gum-machine toys, temporary tattoos, whistles, photos from last year, postcards, coins and business cards. I prefer the 'non-business' card.

  • The World is not your Ashtray.
  • Cigarett Butts are Not Compostable.
  • The World is not your Ashtray.
  • Cigarette Butts are MOOP.
  • The World is not your Ashtray.
  • Cigarette Butts are Litter.
  • There are no "Mexicans" to clean up after you.
  • Butts will get lost in the dust before someone else can find them, and they will never dissolve.
  • Carry a fracking candy tin in your pocket as your personal ashtray.
  • Are we straight here?

Dress and Weather

warmYes, bring a dress.  There's plenty of straight guys in drag.  Also bring one outfit for each kind of weather.  It will be hot in the day for probably 2 days (100*F).  It will drop to 50 or even 40* on many nights.  

There will be at least 3 days of constant dust storm.  People like goggles, but I just squint my lashes shut in the worst of it because goggles either let too much dust in, or they fog-up for lack of ventilation.  But I have been known to gift-out cheap children's' goggles during the first white-out.  People appreciate it.  I can almost guarantee white-out during the tear-down of camp at the end.  Pack early, clean-as-you-go.  Don't unpack anything prematurely; you might never use it and then you have to clean it.  Keep things sealed in ziplocks.

dustOne of these white-outs will usher in a short rain.  There will be just enough droplets to put a reverse-leopard print on your black clothes or car.  There may also be a whole day of rain.  Be prepared to be stuck without bike transportation because your tires just seize-up with thick mud on them.  Your shoes will build-up like platforms.

Don't bring anything too nice.  Bring things that are washable, or that will look good with permanent dust.  Metallic fabric is dazzling, but it will actually tarnish after one trip to the Playa.  I vacuum my wool hats and coats with the hose attachment when I get home.  I hand wash my indian silks.

Bring anything festive to wear that doesn't fall apart in the wind.  Don't attempt any craft projects at the event without attending once.

You can put a dramatic cape over your night-time warm clothes, but don't get it caught in the bicycle wheels.

Smoke is Everywhere

smokeJust as women forget the pain of childbirth, I conveniently forget how much fumes I inhale each year.  Planned art burns, fire barrels for warmth, tiki torches, treated wood burns, trash burns, diesel fumes, gasoline generators, fire poi spinners, and nicotine smokers that you will find yourself following on every street.


Even if you haven't ridden a bike since second grade, you will achieve a new appreciation for them in Black Rock City.

There are bikes available for borrowing if you can't bring one. The public bikes are green beach cruisers with no personalization, and are usually marked "Yellow Bicycle" (ironically). Remember that your Yellow Bike can get re-borrowed by someone else at any time.

If you bring your own bike:

bike bunniesKeep it simple and so crummy that you won't mind if it gets stolen.  Wide tires are a must.  Lock it when you park, even if you just run a string around the frame and through the spokes.  People are high and can't remember what their own bike looked like. The string will make them stop and think when the wheel locks up.  When you get home, wash it and do a complete lubrication.

Decoration is optional but encouraged.  Lighting is very important at night.  Make yourself visible without blinding the pedestrians. Same goes for the lamp on your head.  Put blinking lights on your body when you walk at night as well.

Camp Clean-up

Bring work gloves and a soft rake. Maybe a sifter.  Keep big trash bags open at your kitchen station (and very well tied-down because of high winds).  But for camp sweeping, you will want just a ziplock bag in your hand when you gather up tiny bits of rice, bottle caps, cigarette buts, flakes of paint, fibers of astroturf that blew in from across the playa, etc. Walk arm-in-arm to comb every inch of your camp floor.

Don't wait until the end of the week when you are exhausted. Rouse your campmates into clean-ups on Wed, and Friday mornings especially.

Rave Music: Burning Man's Worst Dogma

raveEvery camp at the 10:00 and 2:00 positions is a DJ camp.  If you camp out at the extremes, you will need earplugs to sleep.  Heck, I need them in Center Camp. Expect electronic music camps from every corner of the globe.  The hackneyed fashion is green fake fur, but I hope you can bring something original to the table.  There are also roving parade floats known as "Art Cars".  They tend to broadcast disco music as well.

If you are thinking your camp will be providing a valuable service by creating a "Chill Space" or a disco, think again.  Try something more original like free foot massage or tarot readings.

At any given time during the event, you will close your eyes and hear a rhythm.  It will be intermittently interrupted by shrieks of joy.  Prepare to sleep as though you live next-door to a 24-hr roller-coaster.

No Cell Phone Use

wi-fiBurning Man had to pull some strings to prevent wireless companies from exploiting the event with temporary microwave towers.  Burning Man prizes "direct experience" above all else.  Though there will be limited WiFi internet connection, try to remain present.

Public Transportation

Those Art Cars often double as public buses, to get you across the Playa faster than a bike, or to take a scenic tour. Boarding is most often by permission, and all roving vehicles must carry a Mutant Vehicle permit sticker. If your car hasn't got one, you should park at your camp upon arrival and stay put for the duration.

Never jump off a moving vehicle. Even sober, it's more dangerous than you think.

No Commerce

Nothing for sale in Black Rock City but these two exceptions:

  • GgregThe Center Camp Café sells coffee and cool drinks.  This has been allowed as an "integrating" process.  People turn up at this unique event, not knowing how to have a good time without spending cash.  They are directed to Center Camp Café where they find hundreds of people not buying coffee, but rather doing yoga, napping, playing games, doing massage--all for free. There's an express line at the coffee counter for people who bring their own cups!
  • There are ice vendors at 3, 6, and 9 positions in the city.  This is great for two reasons: the proceeds benefit local Indian Reservations and it's best if people never disturb local communities during the event by hopping into town for odds and ends.  Try to borrow stuff from neighbors.  But if you can't, there's a bus ride into town several times a day.  See details in the Survival Guide.

I hear the greatest currency for barter is batteries and tampons.  I've never needed to borrow either one.  Again, I like rechargeables. 

Also, do us a favor and take some time to conceal (or parody) that big name on your rental truck. You paid full rental price, so they don't deserve free advertising in all those photos people take at the event.

A brief history of Gifting Culture

  • Commerce is out, Barter is in.
  • Barter is out, Gifting is in.
  • Gifting schlock schwag is out, gifting service is in.

The Event Has Reached Attendance of 50,000

embersDon't assume you are in a crime-free paradise.  Take reasonable precautions with valuables.  Lock all the cars and keep precious things out of site when you all leave camp.  Don't leave children unattended.  Don't let single women take drinks from strangers. When unknown people cross through your camp, size them up. Ask permission when cutting through camps in dense areas. Make some eye-contact and acknowledgment that you are trespassing, if just lightly.

Don't get caught buying drugs.  There will be law enforcement from 3 local counties, and the Federal Bureau of Land Management, and our own Black Rock Rangers to mediate between you and the 'real cops'.

rangeSense when somebody's drug of choice has rendered them violent.  Stay away.  People are exhausted and overstimulated.  Dehydration and lack of sleep make you bitchy.  Severe dehydration makes you cry unexplainably.

You will encounter: Ravers, Trustafarians, Dot-Commers, Pierced Faces, Europeans, Brazilians, Israelis, Iranians, Chinese who dress Japanese, Artists, Builders, Designers, Writers, Nerds, Lawyers, Nudist, Survivalists, Church Groups, Libertarians, Sober Alcoholics, Circus Freaks, local Native Americans, Hare Krishnas, and little old ladies who knit. And they all coexist, and they all fit within our definition of 'cool'. Hippies on E will hug you.

The population tends to double during Thursday and Friday. Get your camp in order, and be prepared for a shift in the vibe. Keep yourself attuned to the ways of the early people and you shouldn't have any trouble with dickwads.

Gimme Shelter

E-Z-Up style tends to get bent in the wind.  Even when you tie them down very well at all four corners with guy lines.  Geodesic domes are wind-resistant, but drape them only lightly with shade cloth.


NEVER build this pentagonal shape  It's too top-heavy and will brain someone when it goes down.

Go for this dome shape or larger.

The best shade structure I've seen is a temporary car port. It seems to be just the right shape and weight when you use sufficient guy lines and rebar on every column. Ball bungees are also great because of flexibility and lack of dangerous hooks.

Stake your tent with one of these

  • stakesRebar: bend it into an L-shape with a piece of pipe, and hammer it all the way into the ground
  • 10mm steel military stakes
  • cork-screw dog-ties.

Small dome tents, 4-ft or lower are best.  House-shaped tents are too high of a wind profile.  Mine ripped up from its own floor.

Set up a second tent for supplies if you need more room to sleep.

Best trick: bring an alarm clock and get extra sleep from 8:30 PM until Midnight.  The most sleep I get is 3 hours in the evening, then 3 hours in the morning from Sunrise until 10:00 AM when it gets too hot in the tent. You should make Thursday your "Night of Zen" when sleep is more important than anything going on outside, and you allow yourself to stay in bed until daybreak. Your Friday Self will thank you.

Your tent is well-ventilated.  That means that it will catch all the dust in the air and drop it on your bed.  I keep a sheet over my bed whenever I leave and then dump it out before entering.

Slash a tennis ball or a plush toy to cover exposed rebar (don't let the stuffing out). Or just throw an empty bottle over it.


I like Rubbermaid Roughneck containers. There's my endorsement. If the lid has a weight on it, they will protect everything from wind, rain, and dust. But note: you may never get that frosty color off of them, so they will be permanently dedicated as Burning Man luggage. The plastic doesn't crack under impact, and I've had mine for more than 10 years without breaking.

When packing liquids for the drive, squeeze some air out of plastic bottles before sealing the lid tight. Then wrap it in a ziplock just in case it tips and leaks. You will want to keep it zipped-up most of the stay to keep dust out.

Keep jewelry and just about everything else sealed-up in bags when not in use. I wrap a clear kitchen bag around my camera kit when I'm not wearing the pack.

Hey, don't sit on that cooler. I need to get in there.


playa footI walk barefoot in the day on the alkaline surface in the heat of the day.  Astounding!  How does it work!?  Well, I treat my feet liberally with Bag Balm at night and wear fresh socks inside my shoes.  Your socks may get gummed-up with balm, but your feet will survive all week.  I also spray vinegar water on my feet or isopropyl alcohol.

Keep the bag balm in a ziplock because it will get runny in the heat of the day. In fact, pack every liquid product inside a ziplock.

Watch your step at night, and take note of this pattern: Whenever you see a gathering of people surrounding a source of light in the darkness, there will be a perimeter of piss spots just outside the light. Especially on the dark side of vehicles. At sunrise you will plainly detect a line of mud patties exactly 50-feet away from the Esplanade.

Be careful walking around tents. There are always stakes and they are usually rebar. This is the most reported injury at Burning Man.


Media teams register before the event and check-in with the Media Mecca upon arrival.  All video cameras, both professional and personal, should be registered and tagged.  Professional still cameras should be registered and tagged.

amishAlways ask when photographing, especially naked people, especially women.  Be mature in the case of rejection.  Though people are very uninhibited at the event, they might also have a 'straight' job that requires discretion.   We know that all photos are destined for the Interweb.  Performers on a stage are often considered fair game, but try to get consent after the show.  Carry contact info to trade pictures after the event.  I print myself a "non-business" card especially for Black Rock City.

Some people go to great lengths to seal-up every crack in their cameras. But my Canon has no problems as long as I don't change lenses in a white-out (my friends with Nikon aren't so lucky). I clean it carefully with a Q-tip when I get home so it doesn't look like a piece of crap. I also clean the sensor cell myself.


costumeYou won't need to supply any entertainment for yourself like iPod or books.  You will be constantly distracted by spectacle and unable to sleep.  Do bring a festive costume so people know you "get it."  One of the dogmas is that unexperienced Burners are known to ostracize if they think you are "normal."  Bring an activity that forces you to be social with new people.  Show-off a talent.  Play a quiz game.  Perform services.  Volunteer with an organization.  Paint people.

Favorite Food for Playa

  • Pre-cooked rice
  • Indian food in foil pouches (can be eaten without warming)  Tasty-Bite brand, or Trader Joe's Indian Fare brand. If you live in SF, buy it before August because San Francisco has a run on it. Bring the pouch and leave the box at home.
  • Hard vegetables like carrots and cabbage
  • Soy milk in a box
  • Canned fish can be surprisingly refreshing after days of eating dust.  Sardines, tuna, herring.  Also canned chicken.  Put the empty tin into the ziplock bag after washing it with dust.
  • Despite the warning below, find a way to cook smoky bacon.  You will LOVE all forms of fat.
  • If you have electricity, use a Japanese rice cooker, and a Japanese water boiler for instant soup.
  • Juice in an single-serving box
  • Energy bars can make your poo really dense, but they can be a life-saver during low-blood sugar in times of poor planning.
  • Did I mention the sea salt?

The worst foods are:

  • Fresh meat, unless you have a RV with a fridge.
  • American cheese in the cooler, getting soggy and stinking up the ice
  • Watermelon, or anything with skin or seeds.  The compost will stink all the way home.
  • Pistachios, or any nuts in shells.
  • Granola and things that are dry without oil and salt.
  • Pasta: the water never boils on a camp stove and everyone starts fighting under the influence of low blood sugar.  Bring it pre-cooked if you can.
  • Candy and sticky treats are over-rated.  Savory, salty, and fat are what you crave in the desert.

If you plan to distribute food or beverage to the general public (other than friends), you will need a permit from the Nevada State Health Division. Just what is defined as "your friends"? That's hard to establish. You should probably force people to interact with you as a qualification for grub or grog. Perhaps make them do the Time Warp or recite the theme to the Brady Bunch.


Don't say I told you this: Burn your burnables on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.  Paper, including cups and soy-milk boxes.  This will save space on the trip home.

There is a recycle camp for aluminum cans only.  It closes early on Saturday.

Be prepared to haul home all glass, tins, plastic bottles, and other junk, smelly or not.  

Pack wisely at home. Un-package bulky things and compress into ziplocks. Don't bring glass if you can avoid it. It's a hazard. You should know that.

Mark sorting bins for your camp waste:

  • Burnable paper
  • Burnable compost (pre-dried)
  • Aluminum cans for recycle camp
  • Everything else (plastic, glass, metal, trash). This get packed into the car to go home.

Crush everything for the ride home.  Bind it with string to keep it small.  Don't depend on the roof of the vehicle for extra cargo space.  Attempt to dry compost in a net bag.

Here's what you didn't anticipate: you are supposed to take your ashes home. Read more about it on the site. Don't burn anything on the playa surface. Burn platforms are elevated so the clay doesn't become kiln-fired.

Vehicle Safety

VW BusAvoid trailers by any means necessary!  I hear of a trailer-related death every year.  Nobody knows how to pilot a trailer safely.

Rent a moving-truck or a passenger van.  Plan to pack everything inside.  Crap always blows off the roof.  If you drive a sedan, station wagon or SUV, plan to keep the back window visible. Less is more. "It's just a fucking camping trip."

Leave room for trash, or an extra rider home.  The trip from San Francisco is about 8 hours.  Many people stop in Reno or Sparks overnight, both ways.

The last 2 hours of the trip to Burning Man consists of a 2-lane desert road with stupid cows, suicidal jack-rabbits, art cars on trailers, and over-packed RV's moving at a snail's pace.  You will be tempted to pass.  Do so only when the line is dotted on your side, and you can see far into the future.  Last year, 2 staff members were saved by the air bags when they hit a cow.  One year a guy rolled his VW bus and died in order to swerve for a bunny.  Don't!

sand trapWhen you see the beautiful blue Pyramid lake, the one after the reservation town of Nixon (and the background of this page), you will be tempted to pull over and take a picture. Don't! It's a sand trap; there is no shoulder.

Hey, vacuum your car before you go to BRC so you don't track leaves onto the Playa.

If you absolutely must stop in local desert towns, be sober, respectful, undemanding, and fully-dressed. The event brings a whole new economy to the region, but they don't have to put up with your shit particularly. We also bring unheard-of demands for distribution and delivery of gasoline, chips, sodas and restaurant supplies to their tiny highways.

Wadsworth and Nixon (when you exit I-80 for the last time) are speed traps. When they say 25mph, they mean it--twenty-four hours. When the speed signs change from 75 to 65, I just let off the gas entirely in my compact car and it is magically at the right speed, all the way down to the 25-zone. And be prepared to post fines immediately because the reservations need the cash for schools. Don't steal water from their rationed supply.

Your ticket entitles you to admission from Monday to Monday. That means the gate opens at Midnight on Sunday. Don't arrive any earlier unless you have a permit.


Trailers are the worst risk on the way home when the road is over-capacity and cars are overloaded with sloppy packing and unanticipated trash.  I never leave until Tuesday after the event.

Nixon NevadaIf you leave between Friday and Final Monday, you will be stuck in "Exodus".  Your car will be parked in a queue until the rural road can handle your bandwidth. That can mean 5 hours or more waiting to get out the gate. Make shade and take this time to catch up on sleep. The 3-hour drive to I-80 will be much longer as well.

Staying Late

We were all Fluffy Bunnies when you arrived, but If you stay past Closing Monday, you will see 2 new populations come to the surface: The Crew and "The Playa Eaters". The Crew might become more abrasive after the event. Unless personally invited to a party, just keep working on cleaning your camp until you can get out.

The Playa Eaters, however, are all the people who have no place else to go, or have gone completely over the rainbow. You might meet migrant scavengers who may inquire indiscreetly about any tools you have. Politely distract them, keep your mouth shut and keep the camp tight. You don't want them over for dinner.

The other Playa Eaters have lost their marbles and are found actually trying to eat the dry mud. If you should encounter this gem, introduce them to the nice Rangers who will give them a cookie and tuck them in.

Naked People are Not Ferns

Don't spray people without asking.  They may be wearing body paint, sun screen, or even intentional dust.  Or it could just be a freaky cold shock to the system.

Don't Step Out of Camp Without:

  • burn nightState I.D., if you look young and intend to drink, even your own hooch.
  • Nalgene bottle or some water bottle with a handle.
  • An idea of how to get back.
  • A lock for your bike.
  • A plan for your next meal.
  • Locking the car.
  • Preparing camp for foul weather, which can change in the blink of an eye.
  • Meeting your immediate neighbors, for god sake! This isn't the Burbs.
  • Warm clothes after 10:00 PM.
  • A light after dark, or a glowing costume.
  • A babysitter, if you're drunk or high.
  • A MOOP bag.
  • A schwag bag.

Don't arrive at the gate without:

  • A ticket.
  • Water for a week.
  • Clothing for every kind of weather.
  • A ride home.
  • Necessary medications and health needs.
  • Foot care.

Fill-up gas in Gerlach, ON THE WAY IN. It will be terrible getting it on the way out. I have enough gas left over if I full-up my compact car in Wadsworth.

RaelDon't Bring Expectations.

"Burning Man is so much better THIS year." You can have the same first year I had in 1998--it's all still here.

Bring an Open Mind.

I could go on an on.

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