Burning Man, the arts and culture festival in the Nevada desert that is supposed to last for the whole week, was forced to cancel its opening day on Monday after a rare event of heavy rain.
The festival, which will be held in an area in the desert about 110 miles from Reno, was temporarily closed as the rains caused standing water that turned the sand into mud.
Thousands of festival attendees were locked out of the event grounds, where they were looking to set up camp. Called "burners," the attendees instead decided to head to alternate campsites within the vicinity in Pyramid Lake until Burning Man can officially start.
"We're going to make good of a bad situation," said Shaft Uddin of London. "I hear Pyramid Lake is beautiful, and apparently there is going to be a big party."
The move of the attendees into Pyramid Lake goes against the statement issued by the Nevada Highway Patrol that urged the burners to spend the night in hotels and motels in nearby cities.
Wal-Mart stores were also offering the usage of their own parking lots where the attendees can park their RVs for the night.
About 60,000 people attend the Burning Man festival annually, which is held during the last week of August during the Labor Day weekend. The attendees exercise "radical self-expression" within a dry lake bed called the playa, located within the Black Rock Desert.
Nudity is one form of art and self-expression that is allowed at Burning Man, with several people that were among the first to arrive found already having taken their clothes off and entered the lake. A park ranger had to ask the attendees to wear their clothes again.
"Black Rock City is closed until midday Tuesday due to rain and standing water," said Jim Graham, an event organizer for Burning Man, on Twitter, as forecasts revealed that isolated rain showers can continue until the second day of the week. "At the request of organizers, law enforcement is turning back cars."
A large number of drivers found their vehicles stuck in the Black Rock Desert playa, with northbound traffic along State Highway 447 being forced to turn back to Reno.
"We are requesting that participants do not try and travel out to the Burning Man area until notified that the roads will be open," said Nevada Highway Patrol trooper Dan Lopez. He added that the opening of roads will depend on the weather for Tuesday.
Last year, 68,000 burners attended the festival, which was the highest number ever recorded. Ticket prices for the event are from $380 to $650.