Thousands of people took over the Black Rock Desert in Nevada for the annual Burning Man festival. However, heavy rainfall caused the streets to become impassable, trapping eventgoers in the desert.
Traffic jams and harsh weather conditions are typical at Burning Man; during last year’s edition of the festival, thousands were stuck on roads for over eight hours leading out of the desert and people were caught in abrasive dust storms. There is only one way into the desert — the two-lane road leading to the nearest major highway — making jams inevitable. Yet, this past weekend, attendees could not leave even if they wanted to.
The nine-day event officially kicked-off on August 27 and was set to run through September 4. Some eventgoers had a late start after several days of flooding. Those with a work access pass had to wait for the flooding to subside.
Storms took over the desert once again this past Friday, turning the playa into mud.
Organizers had to close access to and from the festival until cars could safely pass, and nearby highways and airports were closed due to the heavy rainfall — leaving burners strapped for up to three days, conserving water and gas to survive the desert.
“Conserve your food, water, and fuel,” organizers said on Sunday. “If you have extra, share with your neighbors. This is always common-sense in a wilderness environment.”
Some even made the trek by themselves on foot, walking miles through the mud. Even Diplo took to the road; the DJ posted on Instagram that he walked six miles alongside comedian Chris Rock before hitching a ride from a fan in a pickup truck.
“I legit walked the side of the road for hours with my thumb out cuz I have a show in dc tonight and didnt want to let yall down,” he said.
In addition to the trapped eventgoers, authorities investigated a death on the site. According to CNN, the Pershing County sheriff said that one person was found dead on the playa, but no further details were available.
On Monday morning, the Burning Man Traffic account on X noted that Gate Road was too wet and muddy for cars to leave Black Rock City. A driving ban was lifted, however, organizers urged eventgoers to delay their departure until Tuesday due to the traffic congestion. Those leaving in cars waited for up to seven hours.
You might be much happier hanging out in camp with your friends than sitting in a static line of cars for many hours. Wake up refreshed on Tuesday and hit the road then.
— Burning Man Traffic (@bmantraffic) September 5, 2023
As of Tuesday afternoon, there is still traffic as people try to exit the city. Traffic updates can be found here.
While Burning Man has been around for decades, attendance was capped at 80,000 in 2019 due to safety concerns. This year, tickets were readily available — a stark difference to previous editions where tickets are normally hard to snag — with prices dropping for as low as $130.
Last Updated on September 5, 2023