Since the first Burning Man festival in 1986, the event has continued to attract the largest of gatherings in North America. It is the ultimate festival of the year that takes place in Black Rock City in the desert of Nevada. The festival has now grown into a cultural phenomenon that, for years, has inspired similar festivals around the world.
Attracting over 70,000 revelers every year, Burning Man is all about escaping the confines of vices like capitalism and allowing yourself to be free of everyday things that tend to limit imagination and creativity. Those who attend it set up art cars, sculptures, DJ booths, ritual tents and anything else that those in attendance can interact with and experience. Since 1986, the festival’s ideas of participation, inclusion and a sense of community have created a cult-like following for those who attend it every year.
If you are planning on attending the Burning Man festival here are a few things that you should be aware of:
Prepare For the Dust
Whether you have experienced desert conditions before, nothing will prepare you for the amount of dust that you are going to encounter at the Burning Man. The playa’s dust is different in that it is usually a thin film that will cover everything you have from your RV to your clothes and will get in your mouth and nose which is why you need to bring protective gear to protect from these elements long enough to enjoy the entire festival.
You should cover all vent openings before you get to Black Rock City, taping over seams, upholstery and covering the RV floor with wax if you are bringing your RV. If you are renting one, you don’t have to worry about the whole cleanup process although it can be expensive at the end. However, it is worth it since if you brought your RV it will never be the same again.
Fuel, Power and Lights
In the Nevada desert, solar power will come in handy. If your RV doesn’t have a solar option, consider renting one. You can, however, bring your generator but the noise and the fact that it requires fuel is the reason most people choose to rent an RV. Ensure that your RV has lights as well so that it can be easy to find when you are at the festival.
Before you get there though, there is something else that is just as important – fuel! Ensure that you fill your tank before you get there because fuel lines tend to get longer the closer you get to Black Rock City and the last thing you want is to spend a better part of your trip stuck in a fuel line.
Focus on the Lifetime Experience
While the RV is an important part of your experience at the Burning Man, don’t get caught up in the logistics of the entire thing that you forget why you are there. While this doesn’t mean caring less about the RV especially if it’s a rental, at the end of the day, it’s all about enjoying the experience of a lifetime that the event brings.
Finding a Burning Man Camp
Every year, there are over 1,400 camps at Burning Man. However, you may not be aware of your options until the event is about to begin. While the organizers don’t release a list of the theme camps until it’s near the start date, your options are endless.
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Choosing the Right Camp
Joining a theme camp will depend on you finding a goal that excites you. Join a camp that you are sure is in line with what you are passionate about, otherwise, you may end up having a very dull experience. There are, however, practical things that you need to consider before you join any camp-like amenities as well as supplies that vary from one camp to another.
Do you want a camp that provides necessities like bottled water and shower? What expectations are there for members? Be sure to ask camp managers some of these questions so that you can find the right fit.
The best way to find a theme camp that you can fit right into is to look at the previous year’s lineup. This will give you an idea of what you can expect in the coming year. Once you find a camp that is in line with your interests, you can then find ways of reaching out to the camp leaders on how to join. You want to make your camping experience the best one that you will ever have.
Burning Man Camping Guide
The Burning Man has a camping element for anyone who goes there which is why it’s an experience that you should prepare for. This means knowing what to bring with you and most importantly how to make the most of your time while there.
You can’t talk about Burning Man without talking about RVs. A majority of Burners will bring their RVs or rent one specifically for the festival. While RVs aren’t the most ideal welcoming site, they will come in handy at the camp, for instance, in preventing your tent from being blown away during windstorms. Ensure that you place your RV along the internal campsite boundaries to protect from windstorms.
The rule of the thumb, however, is to avoid parking along the camp’s frontage which acts as your front porch since no one wants to walk along an RV lined street for the entire duration of the festival. As stated above, when placing RVs be mindful of where generators will be located and how that will affect your neighbors.
Step 1 – Prepare the RV before you arrive
As mentioned earlier, the Nevada desert has so much dust that you will need to prepare your RV before you arrive. While there is no guaranteed way to keeping the dust out, it is advisable to close all the vents, tape over switches as well as seams and consider using AC filters to double vent the external vents. Also, ensure that you get it waxed to provide a protective layer on both the exterior and interior, especially when it’s extremely windy.
Step 2 – Open the RV door only when it’s necessary
In as much as you will have prepared the RV beforehand, it doesn’t mean being careless when on the camp. To avoid too much dust in the RV, only open the door when it’s necessary. When there, only use one entrance and exit to the RV and limit the number of trips you make to it, especially when it’s extremely windy. You can also create a dust-free zone by laying plastic on the floor to ensure that dust isn’t dragged back into the RV adding to your cleaning costs.
Step 3 – Protect the interiors of the RV
You can only do so much to keep away dust from the RV. To make the most of your Burning Man experience and prevent a situation where all you are worried about is keeping the RV dust-free, invest in plastic wrap, furniture covers and tarps. After the festival, the deep cleaning of the RV is a must. To save time and energy, consider taking it to the dealership to have it cleaned rather than doing it yourself.
Step 4 – Cleaning the RV
After the festival, you must clean your RV as soon as possible as the dust may end up damaging the paint, rubber seals and metal if it is left seating for too long. You can either make use of the self-service wash bays where you can pay around $40 or hire a professional to do the cleanup which is thorough and saves you time where you pay between $200 to $400. How you decide to clean up will depend on your budget and personal preferences but the most important thing is to ensure that you don’t leave the RV too dirty for long.
Besides the RV, the other important thing that you should always bring with you is a bike. This isn’t a luxury, but a necessity. The reason you need a bike is that there is a large distance to cover at the Burning Man and walking everywhere will not just cut it. While at it, ensure that your bike has some lights and that you wear reflective gear when it’s dark.
Since there is so much dust, the last thing you want is to bring your favorite bike there. In such a case, consider renting one that comes with a basic repair kit, bike lock and lighting kit for about $220 so that you don’t have to deal with the whole clean-up process afterward.
The camping experience at Burning Man is like no other and as such you need to ensure that you pack the right camping gear. You want to have a tent that you can set up at the center of the camp and surround it with your cars to act as windbreakers. Lay down an old carpet to keep dust to the minimum and use ice water to spray the dust every once in a while.
Have extra sheets to cover your sleeping area and your clothes to protect them from the dust, a battery-powered lantern, a marine battery if the camp area needs electricity, solar shower, a flag pole to ensure that you find your way back to the camp when its dark and other camping gear that you may need like air mattresses, sleeping bags, beach chairs, bungee cords and zip ties.
Burning Man Packing Essentials
The rule of Burning Man is that you avoid packing things that you wouldn’t want to be ruined by the dust. As such, pack an old camping tent rather than a new one, an old bike rather than the regular ones since dust will get in everything and the last thing you want is to incur losses replacing such investments. With that in mind, there are certain items that you should have with you before you even make the trip. Have your ticket ready since no one will let you into the festival without a ticket.
Remember to pack a lot of water, at least a gallon per person per day and add another gallon for cleaning and showering, have a water bottle that you can take with you when you aren’t in the RV, food that will last you the entire week, dust goggles, dust masks, sunscreen since the temperatures are extremely high especially during the day and a first aid kit just in case.
You can also have earplugs since parties have been known to go on all night and it would be difficult to catch some sleep with all that noise. You can also have a portable GPS unit that you can keep in your camera bag and suitcase to keep track of your things while there.
At the end of the day, the best way to make the most of your Burning Man experience and enjoy every day is to ensure that you have all you need. You would rather pack more than find that you are missing something. The RV is the most important of the camping gear that you may need at the festival.
Photos from: ingus.kruklitis.gmail.com / depositphotos.com, mac_sim / depositphotos.com and belchonock / depositphotos.com.