Exodus: Let’s do it again! This time with feeling.

[Kristy Evans is Burning Man’s Gate, Perimeter & Exodus Manager … she knows whereof she speaks, so listen up.]

Exodus. Don’t let this happen to you!

The most common question I received after the 2012 event: what did you guys do to make Exodus so much better? The short answer is that YOU were a major part of the solution. You spread out your departures over enough days and times, and did it in a fairly balanced way. That is the most effective solution to reducing Exodus wait times. Let’s do that again, shall we?

Now, here’s the thing … we can’t get complacent! Because if everybody thinks, “Well 2012 was a breeze, clearly the problem is solved and I can leave anytime!”, we’ll find ourselves right back in long Exodus lines again. What we need to do is make a plan for Exodus. All of us.

Exodus Traffic, 2004. Photo by Jocko Magadini
Exodus Traffic, 2004. Photo by Jocko Magadini

There are 732 placed theme camps this year. What if every one of them made an Exodus plan, that purposefully staggered the departures of their camp residents, so that they left over as wide a time frame as possible? And there are many more non-placed camps…what if they did that too? Maybe some people don’t want to stay for the Man Burn, so they leave Friday or Saturday. Maybe some people would rather depart at 4am because they’re early risers and want to beat the heat. Maybe people who are part of a large placed camp or project are willing to stay until Tuesday to help with strike. That’s what happened in 2012, and that’s what made average wait times much less than they were in 2011.

The key point here: establish an Exodus plan as part of your Burning Man preparation. Traffic will, for the foreseeable future, be a part of the Burning Man experience. While there’s no magic solution, there are many things that every single one of us can do to help. Here’s some other tips:

  • Carpool. The fewer vehicles in Black Rock City, the shorter the lines will be. Visit our Rideshare Board or take the new Burner Express!
  • Plan for your departure. Knowledge is power and traffic is real. Know what to expect so that you can plan your Exodus accordingly.
  • Listen to the community. If everyone you talk to says they are staying to watch the Temple burn on Sunday night, then Monday will likely have very long wait times.
  • If you hear on BMIR (94.5 FM) that Exodus lines are long, use that time to MOOP your camp or favorite hang out space.
  • Part of a theme camp or art project? Schedule your tear down so that your crew leaves after peak travel times.
  • If you do get stuck in traffic, make the most of it! Last year participants played music, shared food and created “One Hour Neighborhoods” with their fellow Burners.
  • Tune in to the Gate Area Radio Station (95.1 FM) for specific instructions and updates about Exodus when you are waiting in line.
  • Follow instructions from our Flaggers on the highway and in Gerlach. They are there for your safety and also to control traffic flow.
  • Read the Gate & Exodus FAQ for important info about what to expect and how to plan.
A pause in the Exodus line. (Photo by Chris Dunphy)
A pause in the Exodus line. (Photo by Chris Dunphy)

We plan to implement Pulsing again during peak times on Sunday and Monday, if traffic volume warrants it. Pulsing is a system of moving vehicles at regular intervals toward the highway on Gate Road to avoid the long slow creep forward that challenges the sanity of even the most patient among us. With Pulsing, vehicles are allowed to stop and turn off their engines (from an hour to 15 minutes depending on how close you are to the front), then are “pulsed” forward all at once. Remember that Pulsing does not get you out more quickly.

Our Traffic and Exodus team have been working hard all year long, planning for arguably one of the most intense parts of the Burning Man experience: traffic! Our plan for success in part depends on you making an Exodus plan. Will you help us?

About the author: Kristy Evans

Kristy Evans is a senior manager in the Gate, Perimeter and Exodus Department, where she has helped manage the task of getting people in and out of BRC since 2007. The logistics of traffic, people movement, and staffing a huge department still fascinate her, and with an ever growing Black Rock City there is always more work to do. She first made the trek to the Black Rock Desert in 2003 and began volunteering in 2005 with Gate. She is a member of the Burning Man Leadership Forum and you can read the rest of her bio here.

19 Comments on “Exodus: Let’s do it again! This time with feeling.

  • Cooky says:

    Thanks for all you do Gate team!
    I’ll be helping by leaving Friday evening or before dawn Saturday. : )

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  • Ed Nichols says:

    Me and some of my campmates are first timers. We would like to stay till Tuesday and volunteer for Exodus. Any info that you could provided would be a big help. Thanks. Ed.

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  • Horsecutty says:

    And to the people switching lanes every 100 feet cause they think they will get out quicker… STOP IT.

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  • chris says:

    2011 was our first time, we expected an epic wait and got one. In 2012, after warning our virgins it would take a while, we flew out in super quick time after temple burn.

    I have to say the tone and music on the BMIR was better in 2011, chilled out and calm rather than drunken mess like 2012 :)

    We wont be joining you this time (coming from the UK costs $£$). A big burning man hug to everyone going in 2013, we will be thinking about you back in London :)

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  • Zebuns says:

    Ed Nichols: You can still sign up for GP&E! Google for “gate, perimeter, exodus” and you’ll find the website. Poke around there and you’ll find all the information you need.

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  • Harinama says:

    last year my exit was the fastest ever @ 1.5hrs. Good work GP&E!!!

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  • Patman says:

    I got the BEST hug from the gate team welcoming me home ( a burgin lol). Looking forward to it again!

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  • portaplaya says:

    Are you SURE you got a hug from the Gate team? Normally it is the Greeters down the road that do the hugging and rolling around in the dust.

    Gate tends to wear all black and be all business. Although they do smile when you give them a beer…

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  • Kelsey says:

    Why can’t we have more than one exit or is this just counter productive bec we are all heading the same direction?????

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  • dutch says:

    People who turn right once they reach the pavement shouldnt have to wait in line with the 99.999999% who turn left.

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  • Pink says:

    Because there’s only one lane up to the blacktop?

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  • Kristy Evans says:


    You ask a question we get a lot. So often in fact that we created an FAQ to answer just such questions:

    Scroll down for the Exodus part. Even if we could create multiple exits, it would not solve the fact that everyone still has to merge onto the same two lane highway out of town. Multiple exits would just create multiple merges, but not a quicker exit overall.

    Currently the BLM permit stipulations require that 8 mile be the entry and exit point for the event period. I know that frustrates the few who turn right, but unfortunately that is the only option right now.

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  • Scotto says:

    Dutch- 50% of the people would hop in that lane and do a uturn 1 mile down. I would be the first to say I would.

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  • bryony says:

    Hi there, This is going to be me and my friends first ever trip to burning man,coming from Scotland we cant wait,after being to Rainbow Serpent festival in Oz and hearing nothing but good things about Burning Man I had to give it a go.

    We have hired an Rv and have been looking into everything, i dont think we can actually prepare though for the experience were going to have.

    I was wondering about the ques though, obviously when waiting its gonna be best to turn your engine off, what is this about turning right??im guessing we have to stay to the left on arrival? Also Ive asked around but havent seemed to get a response, we have friends in a camp at BM but we were to late to join it we know they have been placed, is it a case that when we arrive if theres space we can park up alongside them, or do you get directed to a space when you arrive?

    Thanks Any information is hugely appreciated.

    Cant wait to pop my Burning man Cherry!


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  • Johnnybitchin says:

    Leaving in the early morning..like 4 am is always good..remember to be kind and be courteous to others during Exodus…The Burningman spirit shouldn’t end when leaving the Playa….

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  • Kristy Evans says:


    Welcome! You don’t need to worry about whether to turn left or right. There will be signs and all will be much more obvious than it seems at the moment. When you arrive, there is one main entrance and that leads to the entry road on playa we call Gate Road. There are multiple entry lanes on this road, all leading to the same place.

    There is reserved camping space for placed theme camps. The rest of the space is open camping and you can choose where you want to be. You are not directed to a particular spot. If there is open space near your friend’s camp, then yes you can camp there. Just double check (probably with the people already there) that those spaces are not reserved for placed theme camps.

    Since you will be in an RV, please be considerate of your neighbors. If you plan to run the RV generator, best not to park right next to tent campers. ;)

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  • Rabid says:

    Good post. Which got me thinking…

    Actually there maybe IS a magic solution. Why not have an online place where people can post their planned Exodus times? Then ppl could look up when the best times are to leave and plan accordingly… couldn’t be THAT hard.

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  • Razor says:

    Brilliant idea Rabbid, thanks for volunteering to make this happen! We have a few weeks.

    I once got a hug from Portaplaya!

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  • Rabid says:

    Hehe yeah Razor it might be a little late for this year. I’m seriously going to work on this idea though, I think it has merit.

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