Thinking of Traveling to the Playa? Read This First

Our community isn’t building Black Rock City this year, but we know some of you may still be itching to breathe in that dusty playa air. 

In recognition of the impacts of the global health crisis we are all facing, and to help maintain positive relationships with local Nevada communities, Burning Man Project highly discourages people visiting the Black Rock Desert in the immediate future. Read on for more information.


For nearly three decades, the Burning Man community has been a partner with, and had an impact on, the communities between Reno and Gerlach. We are lucky to have positive collaborations and relationships in these communities. This is a moment where we must all think beyond ourselves and understand our impact on the collective.

The rural communities in Northern Nevada often have fewer local resources and a higher distance for access to advanced health care. As a community and culture, we must do our part to help flatten the curve and not spread the coronavirus to our neighbors and friends in Nevada.

Remember too that different communities, and different individuals in those communities, may have contrasting preferences and ideas about visitors. Some may want the increased tourism, and others may not want outsiders. 

For more information from these communities, be sure to consult these resources:


We have been advised by the Bureau of Land Management that they may close the playa during the weeks before and during the original Black Rock City 2020 dates. Be sure to check BLM’s website or the latest information. It’s critically important that we all comply with BLM restrictions and regulations. It is also possible the road into the area may have a roadblock allowing only locals with ID. Unauthorized camping on the playa can put you and our community at risk. 

Vehicle stuck on the playa, from Gerlach Outreach.

Eight vehicles were reported hopelessly stuck in mud over Memorial Day weekend. Don’t be one of them! Getting stuck on the wet playa drains local resources when you have to get rescued, and it damages the playa surface. Remember the desert is dangerous and vast, and wet spots are where you least expect them, no matter what time of year. You could also potentially be a day’s walk from help under hot, dry conditions. 


What are the current Covid restrictions in place in Nevada? Governor Sisolak has your answers here. The Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health is also an excellent resource (and has a great Burning Man page to boot).

You may have an impact on local businesses. The businesses in Wadsworth, Nixon, Empire, and Gerlach may not be open to visitors. We all want to support the local economy, but we also don’t want to jeopardize residents’ access to the resources closest to them, and these stores may have limited supplies. The Nixon and Wadsworth stores, on tribal lands, have controls in place and a notice on the front door. 

Roads may not be open. Check the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) map, website, and Twitter page for updated info on road closures and conditions. As of this writing, State Highways 445 and 446 have closures affecting non-residents and non-tribal members. Cattle-guard replacement along Highway 447 started on May 26.

How about Pyramid Lake? Pyramid Lake itself is officially closed to recreation and non-local traffic with no opening date yet set. 


Please remember your choices can have ripple effects far beyond you and your group. 

Check out this piece from The Sierra Nevada Ally, where Stacey Wittek, Chief Executive Officer for Friends of the Black Rock High Rock discourages rogue camping in the Black Rock Desert this season

Please also remember that Fly Ranch is private property and is currently closed to visitors. Guided nature walks and events are canceled for the foreseeable future. Do not go to Fly Ranch!  If you’re interested in visiting Fly Ranch in the future, sign up for the Fly Ranch newsletter.

We all want to be out there just as much as you do, and we hope to see you in the dust next year. Stay safe.

Top photo from Leori Gill

About the author: Burning Man Project

Burning Man Project

The official voice of the Burning Man organization, managed by Burning Man Project's Communications Team.

29 Comments on “Thinking of Traveling to the Playa? Read This First

  • Brigit Zent says:

    Thank you for this.

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  • Alchemy says:

    Today i discovered that 30 minutes before i googled BLM. Fed website that they ooened traffick and land to the world as did the governments in city and state for oursafr useage. The desert is a arid and zero humidity 400 feet elevation dry heat destination with alkali dust that rivals flesh eating viruses and batterie acid if exposed to mucusy or moust flesh which is precisely where this covid likes to go..into damp wet or flu friendly wetness. The desert supports no life and the heat and air are counter friendly to germs that like other living organisims cannot dwell in desert 110 degrees. Precisley why our bodys attempt to kill it with a spikey fever.

    Drink wayer sanitize surfaces that are shared french kissing locals visiting locals..wear masks and safe distance in clusters with semi shade and alcohol swab your tonsils frequently..on tbe 800000 acres of plays desert .. Do you tbink it will be crouded?? Lol

    So any body in the bayarea whom would like to build a burn here rather than traverse hostile lands like Retro Burningman did…back when..well my group would lime to formally invite you to particioate in CurbBurningman Multiverse at You Diverse City site in West Oakland . i have 29 acres of land and some planning will be nessesary but it is an oasis of oppertunity.
    As for the Playa..RETRO BURNINGMAN EXPERIMENT is a great idea..lets do a throw back..recreate simpler favorites and restore this one chance to freeburn up the old school burningman that anyone from 2005 and before can reminise on..bring back the old art or a version of it. ZARA!! the esplinade porn drive inn at 5 ..lets see if we can recover and recreate this burn without the formality but a deeper endevor to build it safely from scratch out of pocket and out of deep love.

    Think more like a lemonaide stand more like a golf cart
    More like a first try less like megalopolis lemonaid..
    Pack it in .pack it out..
    Maybe set a limit of 2020 participants at retro burn. Statiin 1 and then other side of trash fence 2020 participants for retro stage 2 and plan it in parts in a city map or stagger many retro burns ..all under the fed permit limit contingent on trace..
    Whats most important is respect and love.
    Back when I attempted my second burn in 2000..the road thru reno and to Burningman included co ordinates of longitude and latitude and a 5 page deep new web site and a dioxine bullitin board and tribe.

    Craigslist was like the next new tech..
    Dont even think about pulling off 447 and its a deadly drive on very poorly maintained blacktop out for jackrabbits and cows but do not swerve for rabbits..hence the red spkatters..
    Do not speed not stop in Gerlach..empire wasnt stocked for Burners did have ice and some beer..
    Dont try to get water in Gerlach dont stop and bug the people.. Slow down..
    Getting pulled over meant your vehicle was dumped out and everything searched with barking dogs..
    If you go to. Burningman this year..
    Respect Nevada and love it and Burningman by being TOTALLY SELF RELIANT. TOTALLY LEAVE NO TRACE.
    TOTALLY DECOMODIFY this is a very unique oppertunity to return to the pure burningtimes.. Do cover all forms of branding and commercial advertisement from your cars to your tents and trailers to your cans of red bull or bags of chips..change the brands with tape or cover them .
    That is what was done diligently until recent decade you wont beleive the mind set you get from that or from aclimating in a dusty stuffy tent full of costumes and smellin of incence .
    Bring back the old art onstallations or put together something from materials you find..
    Maybe people will try something they didnt have the ability to or the courage to because of the seriousness that has become our corporate influence ..this is a gentle but dangerous burn.
    No dlot
    Will call probably..perimeter i hope so dpw..volunteer and i hooe they drink and use heavy equipment tbey rent themselves line

    Remember the desert can kill you fact it tbinks we are delicious.. Drink water..carry a cup on your belt at all times and water if your out and remember the distance rule and the lights when peaking rule and if you fuck on the playa so away from clusters of kids..
    May the art be shocking be silly and devoutly made ..

    Playa names only
    Spanked at greeters
    Long live naked Bruce
    And Larry Harvey..
    Brunos on return is a ???
    Trash fence requires donations and volunteers.
    All of tbis requires Otto Von Danger and old schoolies and a drive by shooting gallerie and gifts..

    Please be dedicated and respect the past the present and future..yahois stay home..
    I expect to see shirtcocker mobile volunteer massage and sunscreen stationing ..and topless nakid bitches and cameras not cell phones.
    No pictures or posts till after tbe event is too much to ask but what if we burned a man everynite during that period? And temple be made by all people thete???
    Illuminaughty?? I hope so Satans day spa?? Yes please.. Pranks?? Please lord yes..
    Contessa?? Clone?? Pray…marching band duck dice bar..magick glasses..crucible???porn and eggs..readings of the lorax . ping..DRAKO!! Hearth..playa wedding Coalitta..human carcass wash..spoon return..
    Trampolines..battle zone cart..white whale..DRMegavolt show..MUTATOR.. Brcpo… The soupeiror version before manners and when being rediculous and abuse was a gift.
    I feel that this is a break for ofgicial Burning elite to get to burn in personally artful endevors and work less to art more.
    So im not attempting to invite folks to the Playa. Burningman will be unsponcered by anyone responcible . it will be frought with hard luck for less prepared there will be no middle class its cut and paste or gated plug and play who have no one to heloport people to Sparks . this will be raw if at all and a bad idea. Not for beginers of even new fledge level post 2010. Yall cant handle this shit. Go play virtual burn and post your shit on fb . its full of death and will suck its not commercial enough to support your needs and doughy hands. Sparkle donkeys are advised to ..well fuck your burn.

    Long live Larry Harvey!!

    Those interested in curBurningman i planning on 29 acres in Oaklands port Alchemy. Random Citizen
    You Diverse City Project
    A theme campus habitat for Youmanity
    Arts culture architecture lab for housing solutions
    The science of affordable housing lies in civic reimaging
    Rethink the Urban Landscape
    Build. Survive thrive.

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  • Gerry Mander says:

    Suddenly Fly Ranch is “private property” again? It was all “give back to the community” a few months ago when you wanted free LADI designs and labor. No fundraisers going on?

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  • Vincent says:

    I read a very reliable report that there is a fire breathing dragon blocking the road in Empire. There will also be a 8.4 EQ over the entire Labor Day weekend! And it’s scheduled to rain for 2 weeks with 100mph winds an 150 degree temps. Plus, you’ll kill everyone who lives out there. Think of the children! Don’t go don’t go don’t go.

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  • Geomom says:

    Say hi to Otto from the locals. Wish we could abduct him out here.

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  • Goddess Momma says:

    Thank you for everything you are doing not only for the future of Burning Man but the community we work with. Here’s to a wonderful dusty 2022
    Stay safe & be kind
    Luv’n’hugs Goddess Momma x

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    • May says:

      Are we skipping 2021 as well now?

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      • Shenanigans says:

        The way things are?
        There’s no way a vaccine is finished testing by then. (and the anti vax crowd wont take it anyway) and now they are telling us antibodies are only good for a couple months, so no herd immunity.
        I hope 2021 can happen, but I expect not.
        The only silver lining is local communities miss our dollars (if not our antics) and pressure the BLM to calm their shit down.

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  • Benegirl says:

    Baker Beach

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    • Ginny says:

      You’ll be killing someone’s grandma. Stay at home. Don’t go anywhere.

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      • You're Ain't the Boss of Me says:

        Hey Ginny,

        Why not give your myopic, holier-than-thou orthodoxy a fucking break?

        For what it’s worth one of the Gerlach local canvased the town with a question about whether or not to welcome out of town visitors both to (and through) Gerlach. The following is the response posted regarding the issue:

        “I have polled some of the townspeople in Gerlach, over the last few days. I recieved 53 responses. My goal was 50. Question. Are you comfortable with out of towners patronizing our businesses? I had 44 yeses & 9 nos. The no responses thought it was too early to welcome visitors.”

        So please, if you don’t mind would you consider stuffing a sock into that insufferable, preachy pie hole of yours?

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  • R says:

    San Francisco’s Baker Beach
    The First Burning Man: 1986
    The first Burning Man gathering took place in 1986 when Larry Harvey called his friend Jerry James on the summer solstice and said that he wanted to burn a man. They built an 8-foot man out of scrap lumber, soaked it in gasoline and burned it on San Francisco’s Baker Beach.

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    • Ginny says:

      Don’t go to Baker Beach for Burning Man 2020. The locals there are isolated and protected from the white man’s Corona Virus. You’ll be putting them at risk.

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      • #Tired_of_Reading_Stupid_Posts says:

        That really was a somewhat stereotypical and marginally racist comment. CORONA-19 is no more a ‘white mans’ disease than any other viral contaminant throughout history has ever been. Your logic is flawed and your suppositions are inadequate enough for you to retract your statement – regardless of who you are or where you’re from. Take a pill. Are you a hippie?

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      • Dr. Really? says:

        You tell ‘em Ginny. The Really? Room is at Kand’s End within walking distance downhill to Baker Beach and I had cooties in grade school and don’t want to catch them again.

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  • Some Seeing Eye says:

    Thank you for the update. Burners can multitask this with all of our other important issues. In our quest for radical self expression to travel and camp, it is easy to forget that Gerlach and its surrounds are a small human ecosystem upon which we depend. Gerlach is on the upswing, and a small number of burners have relocated there full time.

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  • That’s the biggest problem each one of us had been facing since last 3 months. Hope the world heals soon.

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  • Count Vlad says:

    I have heard that a dozen or so burners had gone to the playa this past weekend to practise radical self reliance, celebrate the solstice and charge there souls. Rumour has it others had gone as well. A half dozen families and couples. I was told that they camped miles from each other.

    Unable to contain the ability to not welcome others home, everyone would respectably welcome one another from a respectable distance, at some point over the weekend.

    New friendships were made, in discussion they all made sure they had gas, as to not have to stop, between Fernley and the playa.

    The crickets were out in full swing last weekend. there was also constant stream of vehicles racing across the playa to a high powered rocketry gathering. Leaving behind huge clouds of dust without regard to those who were camped.

    While at the playa, the dusty dozen collected a surprising amount of moop, especially near center camp. One lucky burner recovered a burner ring. Mostly rebar, screws, bolts and nuts for the rest of them. We avoided mooping by the temple site for obvious reasons.

    These are our public lands, we graciously celebrated our liberty and freedom with the greatest respect to the environment and the locals.

    I imagine that all the burners who came out last weekend, in spite of being discouraged, feel the same. Hope the rocketeers has as much fun, doubt it though…..

    Viva La Playa!

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  • Jerry 2 says:

    I will be out there for the 4th but we will be bringing everything we need. If I stop in to a gas station along the way, will be wearing a mask, simple.

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  • Respectful Raccoon says:

    Don’t tell people what to do!
    Have faith that people can be respectful along the way.

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  • Count Vlad says:

    I felt the same. It was like privatizing to protect there I.P. and perceived entitlement. The message should have been welcoming, not foreboding…..

    Viva the playa!

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  • Wade says:

    Well, I certainly don’t want to be the guy who is selfish enough to venture out to the Playa and put anybody at risk. That is totally good info, and much appreciated.
    BUT, if you might really think about how what you are saying is gonna be taken (as in literally) before you enter it. This article says that vehicles getting stuck “damage the Playa surface”. Lol. Right. How can leaving ruts in damp clay damage anything? Really? I’d have to be standing there, with you pointing to the ruts…and still ask “So fucking what?” The next rains and moving sheets of ice will level the playa, just like it has for zillions of years. And, I don’t wanna hear any spew about the tracks might last “years” and shit, because any place there is mud in the winter, in the summer time, the dust dunes a foot tall roll across the playa filling each low spot and smoothing each high spot, and it’s all flat again. Explain to me how a set of ruts(such as was in the picture of the stuck Dodge truck) could hurt or damage shit? Did it break the mud somehow? Oh my God! The Mud has a hole in it!!! The Gods are angry! We’re DOOMED! DOOMED I TELL YOU!!! (said “Lotus Flower”, before he dropped more acid…)
    It’s a short lived, self erasing hole in the mud, in a giant 30 miles across mud flat. Nothing more. Get over it.

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