Black Rock City is a huge place and under constant change due to its temporary nature and sometimes extreme weather. Getting around and finding your way can pose some unique challenges.
The city is laid out like a clock with the man effigy at the center. Radial streets are numbered like a clock from 2:00 to 10:00 The circular streets start with the main drag - The Esplanade. Moving outward, they are named depending on the theme, but are always in alphabetical order starting with A. The small circle at the top center is the temple.
Note that depending on where you are and where you are going, it is not uncommon for the shortest route to be inward towards the center, rather than following the circular streets.
On arrival you are given a copy of the current map along with a guide to placed art.
First Things First
The shaded areas on the map are reserved for placed theme camps. The un shaded areas are open camping and if you are not part of a theme camp that is where you will be setting up. Note that the shaded areas may change from year to year. The area marked walk in camping is a quiet zone - no vehicles, generators, etc... if you desire that sort of thing.
There really is no bad real estate in BRC, so pick a spot, talk to the neighbors to make sure they are not assholes, and set up. There is no set amount of space assigned - take as much room as you need for your camp.
Although you never know what you will find, certain generalities apply to certain "neighborhoods".
- Noise Camps - The rules generally restrict these to the 10:00 and 2:00 radials and there are some along the Esplanade as well. The closer you are - the louder it will be, so if you don't want loud don't camp near them. Don't underestimate how loud it can be - some of these camps you can feel through the soles of your feet a quarter mile (or more) away and they tend to go all night.
- The Org has been trying to push G street as sort of a mini Esplanade since 2012 and so far it has been getting more interesting each year.
- The radial streets have Porto Potties at around C to D and H to I streets. The closer you are to the center, the more crowded these tend to be.
- The 9:00 side of the city tends to be a bit wilder and have more activity late night, while the 3:00 side tends to be a bit more sedate. I call them the dark side and light side. Both are interesting, but in different ways.
Before You Leave Camp
Look around and try to find something to use as a landmark. Make sure it is something stationary since vehicles make poor landmarks. Often there will be a nearby tower or other tall structure to guide you home. This becomes more vital as the week progresses since people tend to steal the street signs.
Up until the man burns, you can see it from most parts of the city - especially on the radial streets. Since the man is the center you can easily figure out if you need to move clockwise or counter clockwise to get to your cross street.
The first time you start exploring head down the nearest radial street towards the man. Go a couple hundred yards past the esplanade and turn around. Look for a large landmark near your radial street. Do this at night also. It will help you plot a direct path home from almost anywhere on the open playa.
Things Are Not Always As They Seem
In 2013 a friend of mine spent hours wandering the open playa trying to get back to camp one night. He was using the man effigy and it's position / stance to establish his relative position. It was hours before he realized that the effigy was rotating that year...