What happens if you show up at the Gate with no ticket?

Not the Burning Man Gate

Since Burning Man tickets have sold out for the first time in our 25-year history (ticket sales were stopped in order to manage our population count over the course of the event, as stipulated by our BLM permit), it’s more important than ever that our community knows and understands Burning Man’s longstanding Gate policy. Here’s what you need to know:

– There are no tickets for sale at the Gate. You will be turned away and not allowed entry if you show up without a ticket.

– If you are giving someone a ride to Burning Man, including ride shares and hitchhikers, please be sure they have a ticket or you may end up driving back to Reno to drop them off. Leaving them at the Gate or in Gerlach is not an option. Washoe County Sheriff will be watching out for people loitering in or around Gerlach.

– Harboring stowaways or assisting people sneaking in is as bad as sneaking in yourself. Any vehicle with stowaways or assisting people sneaking in will have the whole vehicle refused entry with no refund of tickets.

– Anyone caught trying to sneak in to the event or causing a disruption at the Gate or Box Office is subject to citation, fine, and arrest by the BLM.

Finally, we expect long lines coming into the event and going out during Exodus, so arriving or leaving at non-peak times — and exercising patience — is advised.

If you have further questions about the Gate and Exodus, see our Gate FAQ.

About the author: Will Chase

Will Chase

Will Chase is Burning Man's former Minister of Propaganda, working on global communications strategy. He was the editor-in-chief for the Jackrabbit Speaks newsletter and the Burning Man Journal, and content manager for Burning Man’s web properties. He also oversaw the ePlaya BBS and Burning Man’s social media presence. Will first attended Burning Man in 2001. He volunteered as the Operations Manager for the ARTery (Black Rock City’s art HQ) and was on the Burning Man Art Council from 2003-2008. He was Web Team Project Manager and Webmaster from 2004 until he transitioned to the Communications Department in 2009.

44 Comments on “What happens if you show up at the Gate with no ticket?

  • Ben Dover says:

    Ahhh.. management through fear, one of the tenants of Burning Man culture!

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  • NO15E says:


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  • Miss_GO says:

    I’m curious to see how much longer the lines are going to be due to higher suspicions of people being snuck in. I’ll bet there will be a lot more people sneaking in due to tickets being sold out, which would equal cars being searched way more thoroughly. We leave Portland at Midnight on Sunday and get there about 9 ish monday morning. Usually the lines aren’t too bad getting in. Guess we’ll see..

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  • Shaolin Monk says:

    Are you kidding me with this photo and the title “one of the more chipper members…”
    Is this some sort of implied threat that there will be thugs at the gate to make surew nobody steps out of line? Is that the message? The Rolling Stones tried that at Altamont…it didnt end well.

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  • Matt Taylor says:

    THIS SUCKS! I just saved enough dough tO go! I have been looking forward to my first year since I heard about it last year I never thought the playa would really fill up! Well I don’t wanna be negative have a great time without me!!!

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  • Dondi says:

    this doesn’t suck….if you have been looking forward to going since last year its called…..(hello McFly)….”planning”…..

    the BMorg has been saying for months to get your tickets now….

    as the good Dr said….”buy the ticket, take the ride” wait around till tickets are sold out….hang around the train station…..

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  • Ranger Siggo says:

    Will Chase, The message you deliver is fine, the way you deliver it here sucks.

    I agree that if you don’t have a ticket, it certainly isn’t the org’s fault. Plenty of notice was given beforehand. It’s public land, there are rules we have to live by, like it or not. I got that. I also get that you can’t just show up with ticketless folks and leave them stranded at the gate (“cya, sucks to be you”). Got it…got it.

    But really? The threatening tone emphasized by Wilde Child looking all surly and whatever that is supposed to imply. Is that really how we want to treat the citizens? At the very least, come compassion for lots of people that are not going because they don’t have a ticket.

    If you would have just presented the information as fact without the pic and caption, it would have been 100% better. It’s not really necessary to present the strong-arm police threat here.


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  • Shaolin Monk says:

    Absolutely agree with Ranger Siggo Will…for the love on the Man, take that picture down. You know, if one of my employees would in anyway present any message or imagery directly or implied of a threatening manner to any of my clients, he would get the boot on the spot. So what you are doing is completely unacceptable. But you have the ability to instantly rectify that by immediately removing the threatening image. Please do so. Thank you.

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  • Cheerful Outlook says:

    I took it as a joke? Maybe this just isn’t a great time for jokes. =)

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  • allyssa tosh says:

    sounds and looks like thug life to me. I’d never go to something like this solely because I can’t stand bikers and biker wanna be’s.

    that photo just serve’s to reinforce my suspicion that this is just a cloak and dagger meet for organized crime. get a real job and decent life and join up…

    help society not hurt it.


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  • Wait, people aren’t going because they want to try to keep 50,000 people entering a gate all at the same time in some sort of order? They want to make sure the idiot with the truck full of costumes has enough water so they don’t have a dead sparkle pony in the desert, they need to make sure some paranoid redneck isn’t armed.

    I don’t see how this is negative. It’s lame people try to sneak in while the rest of us spend 6 months getting our shit together. I’m not independently wealthy, but I bought my ticket the MINUTE they were available. I hunted deals and planned to gear up. I plan to make it as easy as possible by being organized and not giving them shit. The faster they see I’m legit, the faster I get through.

    But I should think it’s totally cool for some burnout hipster to sneak in for free “because it’s Burning Man, dude?” Um. No.

    It’s sort of sad many of the previous commenters never left their houses or traveled anywhere, they’ve never been to a concert or heard a high-profile political figure speak. If you’ve ever been though an airport in someplace civilized or maybe a train station or public square, you’ll notice measures for some sort of civil control. Only a selfish paranoid idiot would think they are in danger by maintaining the few rules they have at the gate. It’s not a “freedom” or oppression thing. No one is forcing you to go, the rules aren’t hurting you, costing you money.

    I really doubt the gate people will be shaking people down, marching in formation, blasting people with water cannons, tapping your cellphones or using search dogs and NYPD tactics.

    For the people bailing out because they have to go through a gate and wait on a line, please sell your tickets for a responsible price or give them away. For the others who would never go anywhere, it’s one more whining moron in the line and we all thank you.

    I imagine the gate people have a brutal job and a big responsibility to make sure the .01% don’t fuck it up for the rest of us. They have an important and thankless job. Instead of whining, maybe thank them. Or better, thank them AND make it easy.

    I took the photo as a bit of a joke, but I’m also not intimidated easily and have a kooky sense of humor. Besides, everything else I read about the gate crew suggests they’re actually pretty nice given how little time they have to socialize.

    Dondi, see you there!

    Everyone else, don’t worry about not going. I hear it won’t be any good this year. Besides, Dr. Dre is insisting Starbucks finally display their sign in Center Camp after not for so many years.

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  • xxxxxx says:

    I think it’s funny that people are offended by the picture. The guy has tattoos and sun in his eye and you are getting your panties in a bunch? Please don’t go if you are offended. Sell your ticket for a reasonable price to someone with a sense of humor!

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  • Quix says:

    Good heavens, people! Lighten up! The photo is CLEARLY meant as a joke while making reference to the fact that Burning Man, does, in fact, have a crew of (wonderful) gatekeepers who scout out those trying to enter without a ticket. The fact that the picture is of a tough-looking gent is just theatrics for the sake of the article. And honestly, who would you rather pick you up if you were sneaking in to the Burn (which you shouldn’t do!), the guy pictured here or a Fed in full S.W.A.T. team regalia?

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  • danny boyer says:

    I hope all of you who are offended by this picture do not come to the playa this year. If you happen to already have a ticket, I have a friend who needs one.

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  • MOD says:

    Ok…Wilde Childe doesn’t look scary. And this was assuredly a joke.

    The Gate crew DOES have a thankless job.

    If you can’t be accepting of all people, this isn’t your event.

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  • FacePlant says:

    Ahh, relax, ya’ll. This is the event horizon where the Playa meets the Default. What would happen to our permit next year if we had 1,000 people pitching tents outside the gate or at Gerlach? Yes, the gate crew needs to be vigilant because every person sneaking in is, in a way, taking a little away from the rest of us. I wish we didn’t need fences, or cops, or permits but the Default is out there and this is how we have to deal with it. They are being stern for the good of all of us, not threatening.

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  • Will Chase says:

    Yes, the original picture was an attempt to be tongue-in-cheek. Sorry if it turned you off. But the Gate has a long, storied history of curmudgeonly (sometimes more than some might consider healthy) performance art as they do their (incredibly hard) job, and it was a) a reference to that, and b) quite serious, actually.

    Now that tickets have sold out and there’s such high demand to get into the event, we don’t want people to think they can just come out and try to sneak in, because they’ll be caught and turned away in the middle of a harsh, forbidding desert, and then we’ve got a big fustercluck and a potentially serious situation on our hands. It’s a safety issue first, and it’s important that people take it seriously.

    All that said, I’ve changed the picture out for you.

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  • Kevin aka. sticks says:

    I have to laugh at people saying that guy looks threatening. The security at the shows out where i live have maybe 1 guy who looks like that and 15 guys who would make you think steriods and send you running with a stern look. Its clearly meant as a joke, though at this time joking tends to seem maybe slightly forced due to the humorlessness of running out of space for burners this year. Everyone is on edge this year due to re adjusting rides and attempting to pull last minute tickets going for 1k each on stub hub.

    The fact of the matter is i dont think anyone could have predicted this would happen this year. As is the normal case with first time sold out events it is hard to predict when a perdiciment such as this will happen. Good news is it does look like they are renegotiating the permit for the next 5 years with BLM, and who knows that may add enough space this again will not be a problem, but it comes down to last minute buying no longer being an option with bm.

    This has 2 things that will effect immediatly. 1 i believe the number of sparkle ponies will drop immediatly and dramatically, as they tend to be last minute additions not long time buyers who wait up for midnight ticket sales. This is the positive culling effect of the end of gate and last minute online ticket sales. the negative effect and number 2 on my list is that it was not seen as a real possiblity, so many long time burners are missing out because of the fact many didnt see this as a possibility. I was lucky not to be in this catagory as i bought my ticket from an acquantance who had 2 friends drop out 2 weeks after buying 260 teir tickets. Otherwise i would have waited till right about now to get it.

    Either way, best to qoute here “the times, they are a changing.”

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  • Mike O'Shea says:

    1st off – you have people calling those without tickets ‘burnout hipsters’ & defending van searches.

    2nd – in response to the recent comment that there will be less useless people – also wrong. Look on threads for music festivals – all of the same people that go to bonaroo & coachella are going to burning man – they, in fact, are the types that buy tickets early – for they are used to music festivals/concerts selling out.

    I always thought your gathering was for yuppies to blow off steam by the time I heard about it (I heard late) and now it has the addition of drug taking tourists there with nothing but camera phones and norm, boring tourist attitudes.

    You’re searching vans? Seriously? Guys, women, you’ve lost your way. Start over or give in to what you are and start booking deadmau5 & tiesto & co-sponsor with EDC.

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  • Mary Martinez says:

    We spent 12 hours on the computer to get out tickets on Jan. 19th.
    Our credit card was charged a penny and one dollar. I was told that was the card “test”. Yet we got no tickets and no one will answer my inquiry at BM.
    Now the sales are closed??
    I was told the BM organization was run by professionals.
    You would ask Apple if that is how they operate??
    Very disgusted

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  • Moze says:

    @Willpants “All that said, I’ve changed the picture out for you. ” I’m personally offended by this new rustic looking “gate picture”. Can you please replace it with one of yourself wearing fairy wings with unicorns on rainbows coming out of your butt? Thank you.

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  • HK says:

    Got my ticket and am SO jazzed…
    But it was a rough year for BM.
    they screwed-up the ticket launch…under info’d folks on ticket sell out potential…currently mishandling the results (the photo of this dude…the SORRY NO VACANCY flip attitude)…
    My fear is the Rangers will be more holier than thou then EVER at Rites…

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  • HK says:

    OH yeah….the non-answers to lingering questions is especially annoying…

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  • Ziggy says:

    Every year at “the gate” there seems to be a feeling eminating more and more from the ‘privileged’ volunteers who now act aloof and ‘over-worked’ as if they are tired from their volunteer job of ‘dealing’ with idiots coming in the gate. And if I don’t come on the first day, I come early. I wonder how they are treating people later in the week. When I first started coming, every single person had a smile and all the time in the world to enjoy the smile with you. It just seems like there is this ‘I’m a real burner and you are not’ mentality that keeps growing. Being a burner doesn’t really have anything to do with a costume, or the music you listen to, or how you dance, or where you do it; being a burner has to do with making a connection to the people around you and for a short time being able to let down the barriers and ego of the ‘real’ world, so you can learn to do that in the ‘real’ world. If you don’t have patience and a smile for all, don’t volunteer and act like you belong and someone else does not.

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  • Epiphany Starlight says:

    I believe the point of the theme this year is, for those of us that care about this event to step up and help make sure it continues. Participate…more.
    It’s hardly fair to compare Burning Man to Apple. Much of what happens to produce this event is done by volunteers or folks that make a barely reasonable compensation for endless hours of devotion. Do I detect entitlement?… Hardly part of the Ten Principles.
    I liked the picture of Wilde Childe and would trust him with my security. Bob Dylan said ” To live outside the law you must be honest” If you have your integrity and are following the program Wilde Childe and all his comrades are your friend. Swag never hurts either. ;)
    The gate picture is another reference to walking thru our own inner boundary and into cosmic consciousness… right?… of passage.
    We will always burn the man. Something about purification.

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  • barry says:

    Wow, it is amazing how much energy is going into 1) a picture and 2) a festival selling out…. God help you people if you have any real issues in life.

    My two cents… If you didn’t plan and get your ticket early….guess what your staying home.

    Those of you haters that have nothing but negative things to say about the Burn, especially those that have never attended one…. go “F” yourselves. Its people like you that we definately do not want at the Burn, you would not get it and life is to short to try and explain it to you.

    Love you Will

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  • tommy says:

    …don’t worry or complain, Clear Channel will be handling everything next year so all the hipsters can get in…bought and sold!…welcome to the Machine.

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  • Adrena says:

    GROW SOME BALLS! Ya bunch of weenies!! Go next year, stop crying!

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  • scottimus prime says:

    What is with all the negative energy? I hope we remember what this is about…
    I can’t wait to c u all at home.
    love you all with and without a ticket.

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  • jon schy says:

    it is what it is…

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  • Mullen says:

    Will Chase has an important but thankless job, and so do the gate crew.

    Tickets had been on sale for 5 1/2 months and if you did not get a ticket, it’s your fault. Don’t cry, don’t blame Will, don’t blame the gate crew, blame yourself. If the order process screwed up on you and you did not get charged or receive tickets, you could have ordered more, selling the set you did not need. Probably would have done a friend a favor by selling your ticket to them.

    Also, thank god they will arresting/harassing/shoo’ing away people hanging out at the gate or Gerlach hoping to get a ticket. Better yet, taking any car load of people who are helping any person sneak in and taking their tickets away.

    Burningman is not “selling” out, they are just doing the right thing for the situation the org is in.

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  • Ranger Siggo says:

    Much respect for changing the picture. You didn’t have to, it was your right to use whatever pic got your point across but you listened, considered, and decided.

    It’s our community not us vs them and you showed a willingness to be open minded. I wouldn’t have thought less of you if you would have stuck with the threatening Wilde Child. I certainly think more of you now.

    So much so that I am volunteering for gate this year in addition to Rangering so I am part of the solution instead of the problem.

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  • Nemesis says:

    Very entertaining back and forth. Well done guys. @Super Evil Brian – really? The F*** word? You made my asshole cringe with delight.

    The rangers have always been decent people. The gate people not soo much.

    2009 they were complete dicks creating conflict wherever they could. They seemed to shape up last year so congrats.

    My hope is that they will enjoy their job as much as possible this year and contributing to everyone’s arrival, while still performing their duties as expected.

    And Yes, I will be sneaking in this year (Anger ensues)…Just kidding…Or am i? Yeah i really am…seriously? Hmmm…

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  • stay home says:

    whats up with everyone saying things like, ” if you like or dont like this picture then please dont come to the burn.” remember when the burn was not about keeping people out but rather including everyone? even those who sneak in? i would rather have someone sneak in and participate than pay 500 dollars on the internet for a ticket to come watch.

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  • Nemesis says:

    I am proud of you “Stay Home” … I agree wholeheartedly. Lets sneak in together. Email me at SneakinBurningMan@gmail.com

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  • tommy says:

    …seen tickets going for over $2,500.00 so far…thinking about selling mine and enjoying some of this capitalism. The American way! I sense this has all come to be a big “Sell Out” anyway.You fruitcakes could’nt keep a secret could you?

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  • John Glueck says:

    I think we have all missed the most important part of all…. Which is how will we please our new Supreme Gate Overlords!! I for one, plan to bring ice cold beer, (Keystone right?) some rum, gin and whiskey. For all those that get checked out by the Supreme Gate Overlords that already check me – YOU’RE WELCOME!

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  • flav says:

    still it s sold out so if everyone plan for next year and buy their tickets the day they start to sell them it will be sold out a week later . i know there is a blm permit , i know you all are doing the best you can and i m really thanks full to all of you for that, but i know that the Playa is not full this year physicly as it was not full last year . so please try to let the population grow with the flow . please open the gate or sale more tickets .do not make our burning man, a new Disney land .

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  • Smoking Man says:

    WHAT FREEDOM? In the Spirit of Woodstock and other great events, I say crash the gates and burn the fence! Open Federal Lands (BLM) and deserts, to all!

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  • tommy says:

    …note to all gate crashers… 9 mile stretch of what appears to be plastic fencing plastic can be cut fast and real easy with right tools but also can be sharp after cutting…be careful don’t cut/hurt yourself, think safety first! also if breaking pickets that hold the fencing together…do not twist your ankle in the process,this will be a sure sign to the lawmakers that you might of had something to do with the wrongdoing,a sure sign of guilt!…anyway, always think “Safety First”!

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  • Discobug says:

    @Matt Taylor – in the off chance that I might have an extra ticket – we should exchange info if you might still be able to get yourself there…reply if so to hello at advancingideas dot net with ticket in subject line

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  • Observer says:

    This mess with ticket scalping is BMO’s own doing.

    Here’s a simple solution for next year, people:
    1. Make tickets fully refundable (minus, say, $2 “processing fee”) and non-transferable.
    2. Refunded tickets go back into the pool for sale to a waiting list.
    3. *REQUIRE* photo IDs to enter BM. No ID, no entry. Period.

    Presto, no more scalping.

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  • Jim says:

    I snuck in last year just to see if I could. Wasn’t even a challenge.

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  • hey these tickets are printed on graham crackers says:

    Im sorry, but some of us have been elsewhere (travelling) for the last little while and staying in the loop wasn’t really easy, nor THOUGHT necessary.

    You all say “well I planned”, well I am T R Y I N G to plan. its FEBRUARY. the burn isnt until AUGUST/SEPTEMBER (OVER HALF A YEAR AWAY!!). $400 is a lot of money for some of us, and finally, I wanted to be 100% sure I was going to be on the continent to go!

    I DON’T feel I’m in the wrong here. I think this is a disgrace. How was this disaster overlooked?! I don’t even get to sign up for priority access to STEP. blerg! FAIL Burningman, FAIL!!

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