Wild Lands of the West | The BLM, National Geographic Magazine: Surreal Mirage

Nude woman painted silver rides unicycle playing tuba in desert with blue sky.

Wearing a smile and a sousaphone, Erin “Red” Thompson makes music in a balancing act during the annual Burning Man art festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Playa (dry lake). The silver-painted Thompson was like a fleeting mirage, spinning by on her unicycle before disappearing into the crowd.

Costumes and performance art, sculptures and unique vehicles abound during a week full of whimsy and humor.

“There are no spectators,” says Red, “only participants.” The counter-culture celebration held annually in the Nevada desert attracts 50,000 people.