This year the Gate opens at 12:01 am Sunday, August 28 to encourage Burners to enter during off-peak travel times. The event officially starts at 6 pm Sunday, August 28, and ends at 6 pm Monday, September 5. Use the earlier arrival time as an opportunity to avoid traffic and set up your camp infrastructure.
Approximately 50,000 participants enter the event on Sunday and Monday. Traffic on Highway 447 is heaviest from 11 am through midnight. The best time to drive Highway 447 is between 2 am and 10 am on Sunday and Monday. If Highway 447 is backed up, consider waiting in Reno or Sparks.
Traffic Updates — Three Times per Hour
Beginning Friday, August 26, we will begin broadcasting Highway 447 traffic reports and wait times on BMIR 94.5 three times per hour. BMIR will be streaming via iHeartRadio again this year. We’ll also be providing real-time traffic updates via Twitter at @BManTraffic. BMIR will report Exodus wait times and highway traffic reports from Saturday, August 27, through Tuesday, September 6.
Prepare your vehicle for this trip! In the Nevada desert in August, temperatures can reach greater than 100°F during the day. Vehicles are loaded with extra weight. NHP reports that bald tires are a significant factor in accidents and breakdowns — check your vehicle’s tires and air pressure after loading your vehicle. Have your local mechanic inspect your radiator, tires (including your spare), belts, brakes, hoses, lights, and fluids.
Renting a Vehicle? Get to Know It Before Heading Out
If you’re renting a vehicle, take the time to familiarize yourself with the lighting, power, and wastewater systems. RVs and cargo vans (and anything pulling a trailer) typically have multiple switches for headlights, running lights, marker lights and pigtails for trailers. Check them regularly during your travels. Knowing how to operate them can save you from being pulled over by law enforcement. Make sure your license plates are not obstructed from view. It is illegal to leak greywater, blackwater, or vehicle fluids onto the playa surface.
Load Your Vehicle Safely!
Loading all vehicles properly will make your trip safer and less stressful. Apply these simple precautions to ensure safety:
- Never exceed the load capacity or the towing capacity of a vehicle or trailer.
- Heavy items should be located low, centered, and over or between the axles. For trailers, load the heaviest items toward the front.
- Secure your load with straps or rope, and batten it down with a tarp or net whenever possible to secure small items.
- Make sure the brakes and lights work on your vehicle and any trailer you’re towing.
- Always use safety chains, installed between your trailer and the tow vehicle. Ensure they do not drag on the road, which can spark fires.
- Do not overload the roof or roof rack on your vehicle. Items may fall off. A large number of trash bags are found along the roadside due to poorly secured loads, and must be cleaned up after the event by BRC’s Highway Restoration volunteers.
Travel Tips & Reminders
Many motorists travel on Interstate 80 until they reach the Wadsworth exit. I-80 is designed to accommodate several thousand vehicles per hour, but highway 447 is a two-lane road with narrow dirt shoulders that drop off steeply in places, no rest areas and very few pull outs. Highway 447 has many blind curves, grades, and soft sand roadway shoulders. Pay attention and obey all traffic laws. Please respect the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe while driving through their land. Remember you are an ambassador of Burning Man, and your actions reflect on the entire community.
- Highway 447 is an open range area: Be prepared to share the road with livestock and wildlife. Cattle roam freely, and if you hit one, you can be held responsible for damages and loss of the animal (cows can cost more than $2,000!).
- Avoid pulling over near curves and grades, which is extremely dangerous for you and other motorists when attempting to re-enter the roadway.
- If you need to pull over, look for a wide open area that doesn’t have steep shoulders bordering the highway. This will reduce the potential for getting stuck in the soft sand shoulder (this happens a lot!).
- Most vehicle accidents with injuries occur on Highway 447 and County Road 34 on the final approach to BRC. Stay alert in this section.
- Passing a line of cars is incredibly dangerous — do not do it.
- Do not park alongside County Road 34. Law enforcement will ticket any vehicles that are parked by the roadside.
- Yield to emergency vehicles and respect Tribal and all emergency vehicles and personnel.
- Do not draft emergency vehicles. It is unsafe and potentially illegal.
- Do not throw cigarette butts — or anything — out the window!
- Gate Road is your only access to Black Rock City. There are no other routes.
- The edges of the playa are saturated with water. If you attempt to drive there, you risk getting stuck. Mired vehicles have remained stranded for days or weeks.
- For your and everyone else’s safety do not drive when you’re tired! Pull over and rest!
Gassing up in Neighboring Towns
Gas up fully before arriving in BRC. Stop to fill your gas tank early in your drive to avoid traffic congestion. (You can get gas in Nixon, Gerlach and Empire, but lines are often long.) If possible, get final gas in Reno, Lovelock, Fernley, Nixon or Wadsworth, or Cedarville. This goes for fuel for RV generators as well. Figure out what kind of fuel your generator uses beforehand. Many generators do not run on gasoline.
Drive the Speed Limit or You Will Get Stopped!
Highway 447 leading to Gerlach and all other roads in the area are patrolled by the Nevada Highway Patrol, Washoe County Sheriff and, on tribal land, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Police. Observe posted speed limits.
So don’t speed. Like even 3 mph over. You’ll get nailed, we swear. It’s just not worth it! Speeding vehicles also pose a major risk to the safety of the people, children and pets living in the small towns along the way.
Go Before You Go
Please respect Washoe and Pershing Counties and the Paiute Tribe by not peeing or pooping on Highway 447. There are restrooms in Sparks, on I-80 and at businesses you frequent before you get on the road for the final drive to BRC. Please use them. Make your mom proud.
Some Helpful Advice From the Nevada Highway Patrol
Every year the Nevada Highway Patrol helps hundreds of Burners who get stranded or otherwise experience problems on the road to and from the event. They shared some super helpful tips to avoid the most common problems that Burners experience while on the road:
Too tired to drive…
Nevada Highway Patrol reports that fatigue is the number one reported cause of accidents that relate to Burning Man traffic. Be sure to be well rested and sober (duh), with a copilot to keep you company while you drive. Behind the wheel is no place for a playa hangover. Here’s a little cautionary tale about what can happen when you drive to or from Black Rock City when you’re overtired: “A Little More Sleep to Avoid the Big Sleep”
Camping in Gerlach is prohibited. Please respect the local residents. Camping at Pyramid Lake requires a permit.
Going for broke…
If your vehicle breaks down, carefully pull off the road to allow traffic to continue past you. Nevada Highway Patrol may push your vehicle off the road if needed, but if you can safely coast or push your vehicle onto a gravel shoulder, please do so.
International Drivers in the U.S.
Learn the rules of the road. Know what all signs mean and obey them, as well as local speed limits. Do not speed.
Bring your International Driving Permit (IDP) and your primary driver’s license if you are coming in from outside the U.S. and intend to drive a vehicle. An IDP translates information contained on your driver’s license into 10 languages so officials in foreign countries can interpret your license. An IDP supplements a valid government-issued license — it does not serve as a replacement for a license. If you are stopped by law enforcement, you will most likely be asked to produce both your IDP and your primary driver’s license.
The United States does not issue International Driving Permits to foreign visitors, so you will need to obtain this document before traveling to the U.S. If you are going to reside in the U.S., you can get a U.S. driver’s license once you are in the U.S., but it may take several months to obtain it.