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First Timer’s Guide

This guide is for anyone preparing for their first time on the playa. Venturing into the desert can be a tremendous undertaking with many unknowns. We’ve done our best to gather our collected wisdom here into a single space.

Survival Guide


Burning Man’s official Survival Guide is the first and foremost place to start. Read the entire Survival Guide. It’s updated every year and is the most important collection of information to be aware of.



Jack Rabbit Speaks


Burning Man’s official, year-round newsletter provides the best information about the growing community and culture of Burning Man, as well as important up-to-date information about preparing for the event.





Reddit’s Burning Man subreddit is an excellent, all-around resource for Burning Man news, culture, and a great place to ask questions or find new perspectives. Reddit is a great social platform with many contributors.



If you’re in North Dakota, consider subscribing to our regional mailing list. It’s the best way for us to stay connected with area burners, share events, and prove you exist.

What’s the best way to get there?

We’ve driven and flown many times out of Fargo for many years. The Best Way depends on your budget, baggage, and priorities.


  • Flying is best if you can claim minimal baggage and time is a factor.
  • The closest major airport is in Reno, Nevada, about 80 minutes south of the playa.
  • We suggest using both Google Flight Search and Matrix Flight Search for finding the best airfare prices.
  • Consider various departure cities (e.g. Minneapolis, Jamestown, Grand Forks, and Fargo) for potential deals.
  • The Burner Express Bus Program is an excellent transportation option directly from the Reno airport.
  • Burning Man also has an official Rideshare Board for additional options.

  • Driving is great is you have moderate baggage, a reliable vehicle, and vehicle pass.
  • The most direct routes take approximately 24 hours of solid driving.
  • Fargonaut says to accommodate for two days of solid driving both ways. Slightly less if you’re not alone.
  • Cougar Bait takes a longer route over eight to ten days and varies it widely to see family and explore.
  • Campgrounds serve easy and cheap accommodations, assuming you already have a tent with.

What’s the coolest thing to see on the way there if you’re driving?


It’s fairly out of the way (an extra 14 hours one-way), but the House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe, New Mexico is the most Burning Man-like installation experience and all-around worthy expedition on the West Coast. The level of detail, craftsmanship, and weirdness is an excellent primer or decompressor for the playa spirit. 

What’s the best way to find other cool things while traveling?

Cougar Bait has developed a particular method over his travels for finding the most interesting things in each place.

  • Trip Advisor is best for finding the largest and most commercial attractions. The ‘Fun and Games’ category usually leads to the most interesting activities or places.
  • Atlas Obscura is the best directory for everything unique or off the beaten path and in every category. It can be just as helpful in other countries as well.
  • City Subreddits are the best for finding local, current happenings in the most general sense. This can be hit-or-miss and works best for larger cities.
  • Couch Surfing is an incredible way to meet and connect with locals. Having direct access to locals and their perspectives can radically alter your entire trip.

What’s the best tent for the playa?

  • The most reliable brands for the playa conditions are Springbar and Kodiak tents.
  • Shiftpods are a new form of easy-to-setup, excellent, but very expensive tents made by burners.
  • If you end up shopping around online, look for tents without vents or discrete options to seal them off.
  • Hexayurts are an option, but require significant preparation, space to transport, and cost.
  • Most tents require additional shade to ensure sanity. Car ports and Monkey Huts are common solutions.
  • The wind can be extreme. Rebar is the most common method for securing tents and structures.
  • Lag screws are a newer, safer alternative and highly recommended if you have a drill and power source.
  • Cougar Bait spent way too long looking for lag screws online last year. He ended up buying this package.

What’s some general advice?

Participate. The surest way to a positive playa experience is to involve and immerse yourself as much as possible in the event and it’s culture. Bring art, volunteer, engage, say yes, or invent something new. The city is a canvas.

Preparation is the second most important, while simultaneously avoiding preconceptions. The less you have to consider and worry about while you’re traveling and at the event, the more mental energy you have to contribute and invest yourself in the experience.

Cougar Bait highly recommends keeping a journal. It helps to process and fully recall all the unique and unpredictable things which inevitably happen. It also helps for remembering names and connections. If you end up going out more than once, the years start to blur together.

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