This post is intended as a resource guide for new burners, camp leaders, and campmates alike - basically anybody who is planning to arrive after the Burning Man gates open and/or arriving in multiple vehicles. It doesn't matter whether you're a camp that completed a questionnaire who was not able to be placed, you missed a registration deadline, had a big camp shakeup and are starting over, or don't even have any kind of theme. You're coming to Burning Man and it's going to be awesome!
Everyone should be reading this. The BLM has given Burning Man permission to open the gates at 12:01AM on Sunday August 27th (that is, just after midnight on Saturday). This is fantastic news! This helps move even more of the heaviest traffic periods to off-peak hours, which. That makes the highway a little safer, and a less painful wait on the road to get in. This means you!
If your group is traveling in several different vehicles, you will want to have a plan, To start, if two people are coming in on tickets from the same will call order, make sure they're in the same vehicle. While the person picking up the order can leave the other ticket in the other person's name with the box office, that can be a pain and means more people going through the box office line. Agree on a target neighborhood, and agree on a specific intersection (for example, 4:05 and H) to meet back up at. Click here to check out the 2017 BRC city map, print a copy for each vehicle with your target area clearly marked. Even if you rock the convoy on the way from Reno to BRC, by the time you get through the gate and greeters, your vehicles will probably get separated. Having a plan means less stress. There is a Burning Man Traffic newsfeed on Twitter, if you've got a smartphone you should follow it and check it while you're still in an area that has service.
Do NOT plan to arrive before 12:01AM, unless you hear or see an announcement made through official channels (that Twitter account I mentioned above, or BMIR). What will happen is that the early arriving cars will wind up being parked in a staging area, and won't get into the city until the people who turned up at 12:01AM get in ahead of you. Ouch. Don't be that guy or girl, who goes through all that effort and puts in all that time, only to wind up in traffic limbo for several hours because you showed up too early. Figure that it takes around 2 hours from Reno to Gerlach with no traffic and will probably take around 3 hours once the gates have opened, so plan to leave Reno between 9-10PM (after making sure you've topped off the tanks and iced up all the coolers). Check the Burning Man Traffic feed on Twitter on the day (it might be nice in Reno but raging dust storms...or raining in BRC)! Veterans already know this, but for the benefit of the new folks, WATCH YOUR SPEED LIMIT! Basically, it goes like this: in between the little towns, the speed limit goes up and you can make great time, but when you approach one of those little towns the speed limit will quickly drop from 65+ down to 35 or even 25mph. And of course, there will be police officers on the lookout for people who don't slow down as they approach the tiny little town. Pay attention! It's not that they're jerks trying to get you, it's that they're sleepy little towns with tiny populations that include families with little kids, and the idea of thousands of fully loaded vehicles blasting down their main street at 75mph freaks them out.
Once you get past Gerlach and turn off the paved road and onto the gate road... you're almost there. Turn off the aircon or set it to recycled air so it doesn't suck up a bunch of playa dust. Stick to the posted speed limits! They're important for three very important reasons: first, the usual road safety stuff; second, because driving faster contributes to tearing up the road and digging deep nasty ruts (veterans, you know how much they can suck, especially during exodus); and third, because the dust you kick up will blow through the traffic ahead of you and also into the city.
With a 12:01AM gate, that means the first to arrive will be getting there in the dead of night... and deserts can get cold at night! Have something warm to wear - layers of clothing are idea. Make sure you've got headlamps and clear goggles handy. But as the day progresses and the sun starts to rise, the temperature will start to rise and you'll be roasting in no time. Holy crap, hydrate! It's worth noting that there are porta-potties on the gate road (several banks, over 100 in all),/i], but be sure that when *you* need to use one your vehicle won't be close. Make sure you have a backup driver who can take over and let the driver high-tail it to the porta-potties. It does not matter what lane you are in - as you approach the gate, let them know if someone in your vehicle has a will call ticket - the gate staff will get you where you need to go safely. These people are awesome, and working hard to make sure people can get in quickly and safely - feel free to tell them you appreciate their hard work.
At the next step, they'll check your tickets and inspect your vehicle - YES, they have to inspect your vehicle! Know that someone is going to have to check through it, so leave some space when packing that cargo van or truck - the easier you make it for the gate crew, the easier you make it for yourself... and everybody else in the line. The best pro-tip I can share about this part is make sure your vehicle is easy to inspect. If it takes 20 minutes to dig through a big load, that's everybody in that line waiting 20 more minutes... multiplied by every vehicle ahead of you that wasn't easy to inspect. If you pack like a champ and gate staff can get through it in 5 minutes, you just got everyone into Burning Man 15 minutes sooner The veterans already know this, but for the sake of the newbies, know that if a vehicle is found to be carrying a stowaway, tickets for everyone in that vehicle will be confiscated, the vehicle pass canceled (and denied any re-entry to BRC), and the entire vehicle will be turned around and sent back to Reno. Nobody wants that, make sure everyone getting into your vehicle has either a physical ticket or printouts of the info they'll need for will call.
Next will come Greeter's, which is another group of awesome people. If you've got a new person in your group (and I hope that you do), make sure they get the full court treatment (whatever that may entail). Holy crap, now you've gotten through greeters let's get to camp as fast as we can! Well, not quite. 5mph, folks! It's MUCH more important here, you are right on top of the city at this point. Leaving greeters is simple, left to go to the 9 side, right to go to the 3 side. If you're aiming for 6, pick either one and then turn back in as you get to the city streets.
You are now in Black Rock City!
Once you've picked a side, stay on the outermost street and keep it at or under 5mph until you get to the time on the dial you're looking for. Remember, keeping it at/under 5 keeps the dust and the ruts down. Do not dive into the inner streets hoping to save a few precious minutes. Rolling a bunch of fully loaded trucks on the inner streets will help tear up the playa and make for more ruts as we get through the week - nobody wants to pedal through ruts or big dust dunes, so avoid that if you can.
Get to that intersection you and your campmates agreed to meet at. If you've appointed someone as your "Glorious Leader And Decider Of Things" have the vehicle that person is in scout the neighborhood and find an open spot. Once they find a suitable spot for the camp, pull in! If there are immediate neighbors, take the time to go say hi and check to make sure your camp boundaries are fine. This is important! Being neighborly here sets yourself up for having awesome neighbors all week, instead of some kind of playafied Hatfields/McCoys thing where people are grumbling about being in each other's space.
Once that spot's sorted, HOLY CRAP YOU'RE HERE! Send someone back to that intersection other vehicles will be going to and have them let your campmates know exactly where to find you. Pro tip - in addition to whatever camp signage you were thinking of having out in front of your camp, make a smaller sign with a space for you to write the location specifics in - and then put that sign up at the agreed-upon intersection.
Get 'er Done!
If you have campmates traveling with you who are not heavy lifters, send them to Playa Info (near Center Camp) to enter your camp's info into their computer. That way, anyone who might be looking for your awesome camp will know exactly where you landed. Depending on how the timing works out, and how quickly you get through the line, you may find yourselves at your camp site either in the dead of night or right as the day is starting to get hot. Be really careful here - unless you have work lights it's really easy to drop and lose things forever (especially if the wind kicks up), and during peak daytime hours it can be easy to get overheated, dehydrated, and find yourselves with heatstroke. If it's super dark, walk around and stretch your legs, jump around excitedly, or just take a nap in your vehicle until the sky starts to lighten. If the sun's already up, take it easy during peak hours. If you've got a few people in your group who aren't heavy lifters, assign at least one of them to make sure your team is hydrated and taking in electralytes (whether that's through gatorade, pedialyte, emerg-n-c, or electralyte tablets doesn't matter). Everyone in your camp is a rock star.
If you planned things right, you've got a map showing the layout of your camp's key structures. Everybody work together to get the first structure put together and secured, and from there you have a base of operations on the playa. Depending on how the size of your crew and what your plans are, you can either all move to the next thing, or split into smaller groups working on various parts of unpacking and unloading.
Weather and energy permitting, those pre-dawn hours as well as late afternoon and into the evening is a great time to set up your camp. If your budget allows for it and your camp has a generator, consider getting something like this:
Remember, if it's windy/dusty, don't attempt building at night - dropped bolts/screws/bits/whatever will be lost, and you'll fight a losing battle. If the weather's agreeable and you have plenty of light, evening and night setups are pretty great - the temps are much less oppressive. If you've got to hold off on setup (because of weather, night, etc), use the time wisely. Rest, hydrate, eat, explore the immediate area and meet the neighbors.
Bikes, trikes, personal mobility and getting to/from the event - this is the place to discuss general transportation issues.
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- Site Admin
- Posts: 16583
- Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2004 10:54 pm
- Burning Since: 2004
- Camp Name: Eridu Society
- Location: San Francisco
A couple other Box Office tidbits to share...
- The longest wait time at the Burning Man box office in 2016 was 20 minutes. It can vary from year to year, and has had some epically bad years in the past, but it looks like things have greatly improved and 2017 is shaping up to be even better. Thank you to box office staffers and volunteers, and thanks to all the people who had their paperwork in order so the line moved quickly!
- The Burning Man box office will have operations set up at the San Francisco and Reno stops for the Burner Express bus, so that all things ticketing can be sorted out before departure and entry to Burning Man will go even more smoothly.
- The Burning Man box office will have operations set up at the BRC airport for participants who are flying in.