When considering transportation for Burning Man, you need to think through getting both you and your gear to the desert and back in a way that makes sense for you in terms of travel time and cost.
Transport for You
Are you thinking about driving? Well, it’s approximately 4,000 miles from Houston to Black Rock City and back. Most people take at least one co-pilot and three days to make the trip each way. So, that’s 6 days of driving, gas for 4,000 miles, and hotels and meals as needed along the way. It’s a lovely drive, full of great sightseeing opportunities like the Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, and Meow Wolf, but once you add up all the costs and time involved, most people choose to fly from Houston to Reno instead.
Once in Reno, people typically stay a night there to gather final supplies and to get one last meal, shower, and night in a proper bed. The Peppermill and Grand Sierra Resort are both very popular choices with burners.
Once you’re ready to head into Burning Man, you’ll then need to rent a car (and a have a vehicle pass) or take either a Burner Express Bus or Burner Express Flight. Both of the Burner Express offerings leave from Reno International Airport. The bus will set you back around $80 each way, and the flights are around $400 each way.
Burning Man has been working for several years to encourage people to use the Burner Express Bus, and it has some significant advantages over other ways to get to Burning Man. The most important of which is that the buses use their own dedicated gates and lanes to get into the event, skipping what is typically as many as 8 hours of waiting in line at gate to get into the event.
Once arriving at the Burner Express Bus depot at Burning Man, you can take a local shuttle bus over to your camp (or at least close to it). Some buses make shopping stops for food and drink on their way from Reno to Black Rock City, as well as offer gallons of water for purchase.
While expensive, Burner Express Flights are not a bad option for folks with not much time to spend at the event. If you’re just coming to Burning Man for a long weekend, it can be nice to skip all the driving from Reno to Black Rock City and land directly at the event’s airport. Mutant Vehicles run shuttle routes to get folks from the airport to their camps.
When you’re ready to come home, just reverse the process. Enjoy the bus skipping the hours-long lines to get out of Black Rock City, again using their own bus gates. Also, don’t forget to stay a night in Reno to get a blissful night of sleep in a real bed. Very few things feel as nice as the first real shower after getting off the playa.
Transport for Your Gear
Getting you to and from Black Rock City is just part of the equation. You also need to get everything you need for a week in the desert there and back. We suggest you utilize three key methods described below.
Utilize a community truck for transporting most of your gear. Our sponsor, Houston Art Collective, operates a Houston Burning Man Community Truck that travels from Houston to Houpla’s location at Burning Man and back. This truck carries all of Houpla’s camp gear and offers space at low cost to individuals wanting to transport their gear as well. This gear can be picked up and returned to the truck at the Houpla theme camp’s location on playa. This method of transport is great for bikes, footlockers, and camp chairs.
Next, research the maximum size of luggage your airline will carry and buy a cooler just at or under this size. You’re going to want to check this cooler as baggage and then fill it up with perishables in Reno. Check another large bag and bring both an additional carry-on bag and personal item with you on your flight. Southwest Airlines is a great option for flights because checking two bags is included in the cost of a ticket.
Choose a Burner Express Bus with a shopping stop and fill your cooler with ice and perishable food along the way. Don’t forget to pick up some water too. Once you get to Burning Man, swing by Houpla and pick up your gear. Reverse the process at the end of the burn. Don’t forget to take trash home with you on the Burner Bus! They’ll take up to 2 bags in the containers they give you on the way to Burning Man.
Our Recommendation for New Burners
Make life easy on yourself. Ship your gear on the Houston Burning Man Community Truck. Fly into Reno and enjoy a night at the Peppermill. Bring as much baggage as you can, including an empty large cooler. Take a Burner Express Bus with a shopping stop included and fill up your cooler. Don’t forget to get some water and trash bags on the bus as well.
Now that you have some ideas on transportation, what exactly should you bring? Our next article in this guide discusses a detailed Packing List.
(Background photo by Christina Jolie Breza and Gui Agustini)