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Local News

Traffic Jams and Leftover Trash: Frustrations Mount Against the Burning Man Festival

Credit: iStock

Armand Jackson

The Burning Man festival is the annual weeklong event in Nevada that takes place in Black Rock Desert. According to festival organizers, the event brings in tens of thousands of people across the country to gather and create a temporary metropolis called Black Rock City. Burning Man throughout the past three decades has become so well known that attendent levels always reach the max of 80,000 and social media influencers, high profile celebrities, as well as Silicon Valley billionaires make appearances. This year’s Burning Man festival was the first since 2019 due to the pandemic and it ended with frustration for both festival attendees and local residents in surrounding communities.

Burning Man attendees this year had to deal with severe “white out” dust storms which provided zero visibility for those caught in the storm. These storms created conditions that forced ticket holders arriving at the festival to wait for hours in their vehicles just to get through the gates in a traffic procession that only moved by inches. Escaping the desert was even worse as the mass exodus from Burning Man resulted in festival goers stuck in a traffic jam that lasted over nine hours. Reporting from the Toronto Star indicated that one of the main problems was broken-down vehicles requiring assistance due to some goers not conserving their gas tanks and local fuel stops having run out of gas. 

However, other frustrations surrounding Burning Man are directed at the festival goers. For years now, federal officials and local community residents in not just Nevada, but Utah, and California have voiced frustrations about Burning Man’s environmental impact as there is always an abundance of trash generated by the attendees that residents have to dispose of. This year’s festival was no different.

Residents of surrounding cities have again complained about trash left behind by attendees and traffic surrounding Burning Man. Some locals have stated seeing large construction bags of trash, alcohol bottles, tons of food, tents and large aluminum poles from shade structures. A local Pershing County sheriff, according to The Guardian, has said: “Burning Man brings nothing to Pershing county except for heartache.”