For nine days, the Black Rock Desert in Reno, Nevada becomes home to tens of thousands of Burners participating in the Burning Man. The dessert transforms into a small community made up of hundreds of theme camps as well as thousands of tents, yurts, smaller camps, and even RVs.
The temporary city is arranged in a semi-arc, with the famous Burning Man effigy at its center. It has annular and radial streets, making it easy for the participants to locate their camps as well as navigate around the temporary city.
But while it's easy to go around the city, many newbies to the Burning Man still find the place a bit confusing and intimidating, especially when it comes to securing a camp.
So, where exactly can you camp in the Burning Man?
Where can you find a camp in the Burning Man?
Most people who attend the Burning Man already belong to registered camps. In a nutshell, these are established groups that have registered their camps and have been approved by the organization. Registered camps typically reserve their campsites ahead of time. Some of them even arrive before the gate opens to set up camp. If you’re a newbie, it would be a very good idea to join one. Registered camps have a very strong support system where you can not only learn but really immerse yourself in the experience.
If you don’t belong to any of the registered camps or don’t want to join one, you can still secure a campsite at the Burning Man via their open or walk-in camping sites. These campsites are located all over the temporary city. All you have to do is to get there and find a spot. However, you have to be quick since these spaces fill up fast and there are no reservations accepted. Remember, you will be competing with thousands of people securing their spots in the temporary city’s open camping sites.
There is another way though that you can have a spot reserved for yourself, and this is by starting your own camp and having it registered and approved by the organization. However, this route may not be the best option for newbies. It takes planning and Burning Man experience to successfully create your own camp and have it registered. You also have to go through their placement process.
If these options are not for you, then you can bring an RV. Of note, the organization doesn’t provide RVs to the participants. Lucky you if you already have one. If not, then you have to rent an RV well ahead of time. There are strict rules, too, when it comes to bringing RVs, and you need to know these rules by heart to avoid problems when you get there.
Now, let’s get to the details of each option.
How do you join a registered camp at the Burning Man?
The first step is to get to know the different camps, and you can find such a list on the Burning Man’s official website. These camps are listed by country, US state, city, and even hometown. You can even search for camps based on your interests and skills. You’ll find camps for yoga, pottery, painting, handicrafts, fashion, food, and many more.
Once you’ve found a camp you think you belong to, simply email them and request to join. Of course, the camp won’t immediately approve your request, so you need to show some proof and state your reasons why you want to join them. Let them know how you can contribute to their community and why you’ll be an asset. Your chances of getting into the camp also increase if you know someone who can refer you to them.
Of note, some camps have fees, so be sure to ask about this as well.
How do you look for a spot in the open or walk-in camping sites of the Burning Man?
These open camping sites are mostly located around H as well as L Streets. Simply claim one spot and set up your tent, yurt, etc. Walk-in camping sites, on the other hand, are mostly located along the outside areas of the L Street.
However, because these areas also contain reserved spots for registered camps, you have to watch out for blue survey flags. Blue survey flags mean that that area has already been reserved for someone else.
Of note, some reserved areas may seem so large that it would be easy to claim one little spot. But for peace’s sake, don’t do this. You’d only be asked to relocate to another place when their group arrives. Not only have you wasted time setting up your tent, but you’d also be risking losing a decent unclaimed site.
To be sure you won’t be encroaching on another camp’s reserved spot, you can always ask for assistance from the organization’s rangers or their placement team. You should also check out the map of the temporary city prior to locating the open and walk-in areas, with the effigy serving as a guiding point. This way, you’ll also know where the facilities are.
How do you create and register your own camp?
Creating and registering your own camp may sound like a dream, but if you’re a new Burner, the process won’t be that easy. For one, you have to have some experience in organizing camps and managing its members. Registered camps include theme camps, mutant vehicle camps, and art installation camps.
Two, it’s also a big plus if you’ve already been to at least a couple of Burning Man events. This way, you’ll know what to expect and what to prepare for. This is especially important since the organization is very strict in its Leave No Trace policy. You have to follow their guidelines religiously or risk being kicked out from the event or, worse, banned permanently.
Three, there’s also the placement process to go through. So check out the Burning Man’s official site and download their application form for a theme camp, mutant vehicle, or art installation. These forms will be available starting from February 19 to April 15, 2020 for mutant vehicle, March 26 to April 30, 2020 for theme camps and camp placement, and February 19 to May 27, 2020 for art installation.
Once you’ve filled in the questionnaire, be sure to submit them well before the deadline, then wait for an email if your request has been approved or declined. If approved, you will receive information on your reserved camping area.
How do you bring an RV to the Burning Man?
There are many factors to consider before bringing an RV to the Burning Man. One, you have to reserve one ahead of time or risk running out of RV rentals. RVs are pretty popular. There are tons of rental requests each year, and they sell out pretty fast.
Two, similar to registered camps, you have to follow the event’s regulations when it comes to RVs, especially their Leave No Trace rule. The noise coming from the generator can also easily disturb your neighbors. There's also the matter of its smells. So be sure to check out their guidelines on generator use.
Three, RVs are pretty expensive. It can easily cost you anywhere between $8,000 and $12,000, maybe even more depending on the quality of the RV and its amenities. You will also need to purchase a vehicle pass, which costs $100.
Four, although it gives you some of the comforts of home, it also isolates you in a way. Burning Man is best experienced surrounded by people and the many amazing sights to see.
Five, if you’re going to the Burn in an RV, be sure not to park it along the city’s main streets.You can also place it strategically in the campsite so it can also serve other purposes. Your RV can help protect the neighboring tents from strong winds, and it can also provide them additional shade.
Can you survive the Burn without a camp?
Yes, actually. There are ways to survive the Burn even without a camp, tent, or RV. All you need are a pillow, warm blanket, sleeping bag, and your supplies, of course.
You can sleep just about anywhere in the city. The Center Camp is open to people is a perfect place where you can crash after a long day. But it’s bound to be bright and lively 24/7, so if you want to get some shuteye, you need to bring with you your earplugs.
You can also sleep on the floor of the Black Rock City Library. Lots of people sleep there, and nobody will bother you.
Burners are friendly, sharing, and accommodating people. If you do happen to sleep in a random place, you won’t be kicked out. However, just because people are very generous with their resources doesn’t mean you have to take advantage of their generosity. Give us as much as you take. So if people offer you hospitality and kindness, do something good for them in return like helping around their campsite, sharing your resources, or simply participating in their activities.
Securing your own spot at the Burning Man may seem confusing and difficult at first, especially if you’re new to the Burn. But it doesn’t have to be this intimidating though. If you know what to expect and do, looking for your own little haven in the thriving temporary city of the Burning Man becomes part of the fun.