Long waits to leave festivals or other events isn't anything new, but for Burning Man fans leaving the multi-day gathering in the Black Rock Desert, the experience was a jaw-dropping brand of stress.
Festival attendees are known as "burners," and they call their departure from the yearly event "the exodus." This year the exit was something out of the post-apocalyptic thriller movie Mad Max, with nearly 10 hours waiting in traffic along desolate stretches of vehicle paths and roadways, with many experiencing stressful fuel shortages at stations along the way.
The traffic stress was worsened by a lingering heatwave in western states.
Those waiting to be released from the gridlock could use a Twitter account called "Burning Man Traffic" for updates on the situation. The account not only gives updates on how long wait times will be, but this year warned passengers to check their vehicle's tire pressure amid temperatures in Nevada that can reach over 103F.
SFGate reported that by noon local time on Monday, the Burning Man Traffic account reported wait times of nearly 6 hours just to leave the grounds for the festival. Just an hour and a half later, that wait time had risen to eight hours. The high desert temperatures had become a potentially dangerous situation.
Just hours later, the account reported that the nearest gas station to the event grounds had run out of fuel. The account reported that more fuel was available but that supplies were not expected to last long.
A user on Reddit reported waiting over 13 hours to get to the main road from the festival.
It was when Twitter user @cjyu posted this aerial image of the 15 lanes of seemingly endless desert traffic that the real scale of the maddening bumper-to-bumper backup to leave became even more real.
Tho people love to compare the #Burningman aesthetic to Mad Max…the Exodus from camp is the most Mad Max I’ve felt all week…5 hours in, two more till I reach the exit gate. 🤦🏻♂️🤷🏻♂️ @bmantraffic @burningman pic.twitter.com/ihOczA91Z0— CJ (@cjyu) September 5, 2022
Twitter user @JohnnyDiggz posted an image showing the stretch of vehicles curving as the 15 lanes of gridlock continued.