You can skydive into Burning Man without needing a ticket. Sure, you’ll have to find a light aircraft taking off outside of Black Rock Desert, someone to sherpa your stuff into the festival, and be certified to skydive, but that might seem easy given how hard securing tickets can be. The rest of us will choose from three other options: flying in, driving in, or taking the bus.
Whether you pick up a rental in Reno or drive the whole way, driving into the burn is the easiest way to get yourself and your supplies into the festival, unless you hire a sherpa (see glossary).
Make sure to fill your gas tanks (if you’re not driving an EV) because the last gas stations in Gerlach are expensive, often run out of fuel, and can have epic line-ups.
The line-ups into and out of the festival can be multiple hours long. Be prepared with water, snacks, hand sanitizer for the porto potties, a warm jacket, and a flash/headlight. If it rains, all traffic will be stopped until the ground is dry enough to drive on, and if there are reports of a missing child, the lineup out will be closed until they are found. Turn on your radio and listen to BMIR (94.5 FM) for periodic updates.
Exodus is what the exit line-up is called. It can be longer than the line-up in, so be equally prepared. To keep traffic from piling up and cars from idling, they often “pulse” the traffic, pausing for up to an hour between letting traffic go. Turn off your engine between pulses and try to not fall asleep if you’re the one driving.
You can fly directly into the festival, or fly into Reno, the closest airport, and rent a vehicle to drive into the burn:
Reno Tahoe is the closest airport, 3 hours drive from Black Rock Desert. Fly in early to give you time to buy supplies (it always takes longer than you’d think).
Many people also stay a couple days after the burn at one of the huge Reno Casinos, which become parties themselves as Burners wash off the dust in the huge pools and spas. Many casinos even offer heavily discounted rooms to get your burner bucks.
Burning Man Airport
Flying direct into Burning Man is by far the easiest and fastest way to get in during the festival. You will be only able to pack a small bag, so you will need your camp, food, and water set up for you.
Flights to Burning Man take off from Reno and San Francisco. Burning Man has a small airport (which is also the few places on Burning Man where you can access wifi). It’s at the end of Airport Road off 5:00.
The Burner Express is the direct bus shuttling burners from Reno or San Francisco to the Burn. It’s an inexpensive way into the festival, a great way to meet other burners, you avoid the epic lineups, and you can even get in a day early, without needing a work pass.
You’re allowed 2 luggage items (with size & weight restrictions), one carry-on, and 1 bike (for an additional fee).
That’s far more than you’re allowed flying into the festival, but not nearly enough if you’re tenting in open camping.
Both routes stop for 1 hour to pick up supplies in Reno (at the Save Mart, so don’t expect Whole Foods quality).
If you want to bring in psychedelics or anything illegal, know that these busses will be searched by sniffer dogs.