How’s the playa? It’s fantastic!

One of the key questions leading up to Burning Man is always  … HOW’S THE PLAYA THIS YEAR??

Well, I’m happy to report that it is amaaaaazing. I’ve never seen it so flat and firm in eight years of coming here. You veterans know what a difference that makes, and for you  first-timers, I think you’re in for a treat.

There was a LOT of rain on the playa over the winter. In fact, it showed up in October, when the Playa Restoration crew had to do their work in ankle-deep water. And the water stayed around in places until last month!

And that’s exactly what the playa needed. It was like a hard reboot for the desert, because when it gets good and inundated, it tamps everything down the way it’s supposed to be.

There’s still going to be dust, and plenty of it, so definitely bring your goggles and face masks. All the cars and trucks and RVs are going to pulverize the hard crust on the desert floor now, and the wind is going to send it all flying through everything.

But it should be a lot easier getting around, especially in the far reaches of the playa. There aren’t many of those nasty, thigh-grinding piles that make you get off the bike and walk. We think it’ll be a lot easier getting around, for sure.

The funkiest area is in the open playa between around 1 and 3; there is a pretty good number of mounds out there.

But overall, things are really really good!

There are cracks on the desert floor about an inch and half deep. Under that it's dark and firm.


And here's what it looks like if you pick up one of those clumps.


Most of the floor is smooth and hard, perfect for biking around.


There are some mounds in the further reaches, out between 1 and 3.


About the author: John Curley

John Curley

John Curley (that's me) has been Burning since the relatively late date of 2004, and in 2008 I spent the better part of a month on the playa, documenting the building and burning of Black Rock City in words and pictures. I loved it, and I've been doing it ever since. I was a newspaper person in a previous life, and I spent many years at the San Francisco Chronicle. At the time I left, in 2007, I was the deputy managing editor in charge of Page One and the news sections of the paper. Since then, I've turned a passion for photography into a second career. I shoot for editorial, commercial and private clients, and I'm especially fond of shooting weddings. I'm also the editor at large of the Tasting Panel magazine, which is devoted to the beverage industry. I've also taught a bit, including two years at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and a year at San Francisco State University. I live on a (house)boat in Alameda, California.

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