How Much Will "That Thing In The Desert" Cost Me?

Burn Wall Street, Duncan Rawlinson

In 2012 Burning Man included "Burn Wall Street" (Photo: Duncan Rawlinson)

Not as much as you might think! There are quite a few stories of Burners arriving on the Playa completely naked and doing fine. But still... Though there is no commerce in Black Rock City (except for ice and coffee) Burning Man is not necessarily a cheap event. Especially if you decide to go last minute. If you plan and prepare though, you can do it on a shoestring. Or you can spend a small fortune. Just remember: once you get to the Playa, all of your costs should be done.

Tickets Burning Man tickets come in essentially four tiers: Free (gifted), Low-Income, Regular and Rich Person. Most Burners buy the regular-priced tickets at cost. For more on tickets, head here.

Travel Travel costs (and times!) can vary wildly depending on where you live but they generally break down into two parts: getting to Reno or the Bay Area and then getting to the playa. The sooner you buy plane tickets, the lighter the load on your wallet. For more info on getting to the playa and how much it costs, head here.

Camp Dues Camp dues come in two tiers: regular and low-income. In 2020 the Melon dues are $228 and $108. For more on Melon Camp dues, head here.

Gear You are going to need basic camping gear and probably a bicycle. Depending on what you have this can be more or less affordable. The Melons have a solid packing list you can grok here and there is more bicycle details here.

Food You'll need to buy less food than you think. The Melons have camp dinner every night, and the dry heat of the desert doesn't make you hungry. But you will need to bring some food. Don't Panic (Butter)!)

Adult Entertainment Burning Man is home to hundreds of bars and all sorts of distractions. But as a "pack it in, pack it out" event, if you want something in particular you need to buy it and bring it in yourself.

The total? Plan on spending $1000 minimum if you don't already own any gear. Not too bad for a weeklong vacation in which you can't discover upon checking out you bought three rounds of shots for an entire hotel bar. And if that cost seems dauntingly high, that's understandable, too – ask your friendly XVC members for some guidance, they probably have some good tips and tricks for burning cheaper!