The Impact of Burning Man on Nevada

For Burners and Burning Man, the State of Nevada is both home, pathway and supplier.  We work diligently to leave no trace but the importance and impact of the event on the home state of Nevada is interesting to understand.

In earlier posts, we mentioned where Burners come from, and it is from this information we see that California residents dominate the event. When looking at attendance in absolute terms, California Burners make up the largest group of participants, 28,416 people or 42% of Black Rock City, with Nevada in a distant second place at 3,676 or 5% of Black Rock City.

NevadaMapChartPopulationHowever, when we put those numbers in context of the origin state population, Nevada is the state with the highest percentage of their population attending: 13 out of 10,000 Nevada residents attend Burning Man (0.132%) (also known as “Burner Density”). This is actually a 75% greater “Burner Density” than California or Oregon which are closer to 7 out of 10,000 at 0.074% and 0.072% respectively. The darker states on the map below show the other states where the proportion of participants/residents is the highest.


With this knowledge, consider how many people travel to Burning Man from inside and outside of Nevada, and the limited routes they can choose. Many burners (28.4%) visit attractions in the surrounding areas, as shown in the pie chart below:


Whether by plane, train or automobile, hailing from the West Coast or driving cross-country, chances are you’ve patronized one of the following while in Nevada on the way to or from Black Rock City:

  • Airports
  • Bus Stations
  • Campgrounds
  • Car Rentals
  • Casinos
  • Gas Stations
  • Grocery Stores
  • Hotels
  • Recreation Areas
  • Refuse Services
  • Restaurants

Consider your own spending on these goods and services as you review the results of the following survey question:


More than 1/3 of burners spent $250 or less in Nevada; however, there was considerable  spending above that amount. 27.6% of the population reported spending between $250-$500, while almost 20% spent between $500-$1,000 before and after Burning Man. It may not seem like much but the volume over all participants is a lot.

Now if you add in the impact of nearly 19% spending thousands of dollars, the numbers get pretty big. Consider that the higher levels of spending may have included art installations, mutant vehicles, costume supplies, bicycles, shipping services, and other “splurges” that would show an increase in spending in local communities compared to the rest of the year.

When you aggregate all of this spending, the projected economic impact of 69,000 people flowing into and out of northern Nevada is approximately $55 million give or take a few million dollars, leaving no trace in the Black Rock Desert, but leaving a huge impact on the culture and economy of the surrounding communities.



Written by:

Tabitha Palmer aka Tabicat

Edited by:

David Nelson-Gal aka Scribble


3 responses

    • Hi Dan,
      We took some time to go back to our data before writing this reply in order to give you our best feedback.
      First, it should be mentioned that a gray state does not imply no burners but simply a smaller proportion than what could be estimated via the Census.
      More precisely, the map was based on the US residents for which we had a valid zip code and valid answers to the questions used to weight the Census (see here for more info on the weights ). There was 5% of non-valid zip codes, which were probably mainly due to typing errors. We verified again, but there was no valid zip code from NJ in the “valid” subsample. I would thus guess that on your form, either the zip code was mistyped or at least one of the answers to the 8 sociodemographic questions used for weighting the Census was missing. However, even if the zip code was mistyped, the form was not eliminated and the answers to the other questions contributed to the Census results.
      – Dominic Beaulieu-Prévost aka Hunter & Scribble

  1. Pingback: Burning Man Directors Announces Plan to Divert Traffic into Nevada County | Nevada County Scooper

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