The Enchanted Desert Forest

There were many highlights to my 2012 Burning Man experience. But instead of trying to squeeze all of them in before you cut to commercial I’ll just describe one experience. I knew nothing about it going in. Only that I heard a mother and daughter ask about ‘The Enchanted Forest’ and saw someone else point in a direction.

My friend Kelly and I headed off in the direction the slightly drunk but funny man sent the mother and daughter. All I could really see was a white square 1 story tall and about the size of half a football field. When we got to the building it had an opening like the beginning of a maze. But after one turn you realized it wasn’t a maze. The interior was solidly filled with a field of white ribbons hanging from the top of the structure which had no ceiling. On all sides there was a small wooden deck inviting you to take your shoes off and step into the ribbons. When you walked in, the floor was a faux polar bear fur carpet. We heard someone say it was free range polar bear but I can’t speak to his authority on the matter. When you laid down on the sumptuous carpet the ribbons hung just above your face almost or never exactly touching your nose. (Depending on your nose.) It was completely amazing to be in.

Every worry and outside thought emptied from my mind and I was just in awe at the moment. One of the many places my mind wandered while laying there was that the most wonderful things I’d seen at Burning Man were amazing not just because of what was built but because someone thought about how what they built would interact with the environment to create a full experience.

The sky was pure blue against the white ribbons. When the desert wind was soft or still the ribbons just floated while you laid on that damn amazing carpet. You could see the other people around you but only small peaks. When the wind picked up, the landscape of the carpet opened up and you saw all the people there with you reaching out to the ribbons, hugging and laying on their friends or making out on the furry cloud. And smiling!

The smiles are what I’ll never forget. People caught in the same wonder I was in, all to themselves and revealed for a fleeting moment when the wind blew smiling with their whole face. I can’t remember the last time I’d seen smiles like that on people.


We finally got up and softly walked through the people. As I moved the ribbons in front of me it revealed colorful burners in wild outfits and dust with dazzed eyes and mouthes open in awe.

I had noticed electrical wires hinting at lights so we decided to come back at night. We lost a friend we hoped to meet up with but we went to the Forest anyway. Sure enough it was lit up like Fantasia and just as magical. When we went in and parted the ribbons I ran straight into the friend we lost! In a city of 50,000 people, in a place it would be unlikely to find her if she was 5 feet away, there she was in a Rainbow Bright outfit glowing in the blue light. Needless to say that is a smile I will remember. We all hugged, ‘NO WAY!‘ed, and laid down on each other in the fuzzy cloud and soft light, excited and happy in the Enchanted Desert Forest.


You can find out more about the project at it’s home page under it’s actual name, The Desert Forest.


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