The Guide to Getting Into and Out of Burning Man

I’m just another Burner like you, but I’ve done this a few times. After a couple years, you start to hash out a game plan for getting in and out of Black Rock City. Arriving and leaving always rank among the hardest things about the trip. That’s true for emotional reasons as well as practical ones.

As far as the feelings go, that’s all you. But here’s what you need to know about the down-to-earth part of going to and coming from Burning Man.

Getting In

There are 60,000 of us going down a two-lane road to a single entry point. We have to be patient, and we have to be careful, okay? It’s going to be like a thousand freight trains going through the same tumbleweed towns at the same time. Go slowly. Be respectful. If you park on the shoulder to pee or you blow through a stop sign, you’re causing a hazard that could screw this up for all of us.

This year, the Org is planting signs and flaggers along Highway 447. They’re there to help us. Listen to them. Smile. Say hi. You’ll probably be going slowly enough to give them a high five.

The Gate opens at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday. As you’re planning your voyage, that’s your baseline. If you get there at 5:06 to be clever, you’re going to be shunted off into a holding pen, and I hope you can reach your water, snacks and pee bottle if that happens to you.

As it is, it could take us five or more hours to get in on Sunday or Monday. We just have to know that.

As we’re rolling in, the Gate Advisory Radio Station will be keeping us posted on 95.1 FM. No tunes, just loops of info. It’ll be the only all-talk radio station on the playa. And we’ll be glad to have it.

When we hit the dust, our speed limit is 5–10 miles per hour, got it? Faster than that, we start kicking up dust and digging ruts in the road, and that will gum up the works for everybody.

A quarter mile before the Gate, there’s a bunch of booths called the Apex. The staff there will direct traffic. Just past there, you can turn into the Will Call lot if anybody needs to pick up their tickets.

Don’t get out of your car. You’ll get lost. If someone in your car has to go to Will Call, everybody else go with them. Don’t make them find their camp on foot on the first night.

When you get to the Gate, the crew will scan and tear your tickets and make sure you don’t have any stowaways, feathers, plants, guns or bombs, or unregistered vehicles. Make sure your checklist is all checked off before you go.

Getting Out

It’s hard to know when to leave. Firstly, you might not want to leave at all. But there are also more practical factors to consider. The best thing to do is to listen to the community.

If everyone around you wants to stay and watch the Temple burn on Sunday evening, expect a long line that night and Monday morning. If you hear about predicted bad weather around Exodus time, people will be trying to get out before it hits.

Basically, if you don’t want to wait in the Exodus line, don’t leave on Sunday or Monday. It sucks to leave before the Temple burns, but it might just be a good idea unless you feel like you have to be there. Otherwise, you’re better off hanging out until late Monday or Tuesday morning.

There’s a new deal for Exodus this year. As always, you should head straight out your radial (the nearest number street) to L, the last ring of the city, and head towards 6:00 and Gate Road. During Exodus, L will be divided into lanes for each quadrant, 2:00–4:00, 4:00–6:00, 6:00–8:00 and 8:00–10:00. That makes things simpler and less stressful.

Once you hit Gate Road, use whatever lanes are open until you hit bumper-to-bumper traffic. You can go around vehicles that are stopped if there’s space up ahead, but do not change lanes.

As you wait in the Exodus line, you’ll experience Pulsing, kinda like you have all week, except different. This kind of Pulsing makes traffic move in bursts and then stop for an hour. But then you get to hang out with your new neighbors until it’s time to pulse again.

You’re still at Burning Man until you get back to the default world. Leave no trace. Participate. Stay positive. Rely on yourselves and each other to make sure Exodus goes smoothly. I mean, really, who wants to rush? We can’t stay on the playa forever, but fortunately we take our sweet time getting out.

Want some more resources about Ingress and Exodus? Read these:

Photos by the superlative Scott London

About the author: Jon Mitchell

I'm the managing editor at Burning Man. I wrote this book and this record. I co-wrote a big story about spending 24 hours at the Temple of Juno in 2012, which lives at templestories.com. I've been a Burner since 2008.

19 thoughts on “The Guide to Getting Into and Out of Burning Man

  • I suppose this wouldn’t even be a question if t he greedy bastards weren’t trying to cram as many hispters onto the playa as humanly possible.

    With all the profit, maybe the Borg can invest in some kind of teleporting technology to bring in a million burners an hour next year. God knows the BLM is wet for it – fucking whores that they are.

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  • I absolutely love that every post that gets posted on this blog has some whiny child bitching in the comments about the event. Get over it, if you don’t want to come, THEN DON’T FUCKING COME!

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  • right on Tristen!
    those who are cutting on stuff without adding a creative solution are BORING , counterproductive and Spectators.
    go waste some time with Farmville, lol.
    Now, if theres something of Value to add , (even if its its neg), then say it-
    if you actually HAVE a solution that adds to building the community.
    if NOT… well, then….
    theres plenty of TV to watch, you spectators.
    :P

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  • Exodus has been a problem since 1999. Odd that Tabby is saying this is something new.

    As far as I can tell Tabby is suggesting a population cap low enough that Exodus is not a problem. Going back to only 15,000 people is impossible nowadays. It is lunacy to make or imply that suggestion just to ease Exodus pains.

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  • If you feel that away about the event, Tristen… then why are you on the Burning Man website at all and reading over the blog posts and then taking the time to comment. Why not use your time doing something worthwhile that you DO believe in?

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  • @Todd Gardiner

    “It is lunacy to make or imply that suggestion just to ease Exodus pains.”

    It’s worse than lunacy, Todd. It’s nothing less than heresy!

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  • I’ve left BM on Sunday for the past five years due to work, My out times have varied from five hours to 45 minutes. It’s part of the experience and nothing to get too excited about. My hats off to the great exodus team (which I will be a part of this year) for doing such a great job and helping us get out safely, I’ve seen so many vols standing in nothing but dust doing their hard work. Anybody who has a bitch to say about it needs to stay home, deal with it and enjoy this wonderful event that so many people work so hard to put on for everyone’s enjoyment.

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  • Oh, poor little Tabby. She’s such a hipster she’s NOT going to Burning Man. Good. Spend the next year figuring out why you’re so depressed and angry, then come out next year and have fun!

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  • “the crew will scan and tear your tickets and make sure you don’t have any stowaways, feathers, plants, guns or bombs,”………sounds like the adoption of Homeland Security tactics as reason to further compromise our privacy. When was the last time somebody brought a bomb into BM? Trying to be tongue and cheek about it? Not very funny.

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  • Has any one taken thier car out on Saturday , parked outside Gerlach on the side of the road and ridden thier bikes back into Black rock city for the the balance of Sat and Sunday . Then ridden back out to thier car on Sunday ?

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  • I have a secret method, but if I told you all not only would it not be a secret anymore, I’d deprive you the fun of figuring out your own secret method.

    As a general rule about the whole shebang though, getting tightly wrapped about most any aspect is really counterproductive.

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  • Just had my first Burn and left on Sunday before the temple burn. Not terrible but not great. Is there any way to allow more than one car to leave at a time by turning left on 447 simultaneously? I was picturing a ski lift line where there are 4 (or more lines) and then the first GROUP in each line comes out and gets on the chair. Instead of merging the lines down to a single line, keep 4 lines all reaching 447 at the same time. If there were 4 lanes of cars turning left and allowed to leave one 4 car group at a time, would that help?

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