How to Bring an RV to Burning Man Without Getting Burned

Posted by   Annette on    September 11, 2015

burning-man-RV.jpgBlack Rock City is located approximately a thousand billion miles away from your comfort zone.

That's by design, and that's a beautiful thing. However: there's immense solace in knowing that you can step away from the madness into a cozy little room to change your clothes, scrub off some dust, grab a drink from an actual-factual refrigerator and/or thaw out after a long, frigid night in the Deep Playa. Make no mistake, however: bringing an RV to Burning Man is not a plug-and-play affair. You can lose a lot of money (and sanity) in this endeavor. Here are a few tips, tricks and hacks to drive into the dust and emerge unscarred on the other side.

1. Read the guide. Really. Read the RV section of the Burning Man official prep packet at least twice, before you commit to a rental.

2. Rent from mom-and-pops. At this point, there are precious few RV rental companies who aren't hip to Burning Man. The Playa is wickedly hard on an RV -- especially when the renter doesn't take care of the delicate details -- and a savvy rental outfit is going to make you pay dearly for the privilege. To avoid thousands of dollars in tacked-on fees, start your search early. Find a small, hometown company that hasn't been burned by the Burn. (Believe it or not, they still exist!) Vitally: make sure you take exquisite care of the vehicle, lest you slam the door on next year's opportunity.

3. Tape it up. Bring two rolls of painter's tape to seal over every seam on your rig. This means covering the rubber sills of every window and the cracks around every door you can get away without using for the week. Another note: Spring for the nice stuff.* For extra credit, cover your windows with insulating silver bubble wrap, cut to fit. 

4. Know your rig. Even with a solar setup, you may need a generator to run the A/C and the 110 outlets if that's important to you. Check before you roll out.

5. Park smart. I know -- by the time you finally get that hug from the greeters, you're willing to give up anything to get out from the prison of the driver's seat. Take a few more agonizing minutes, however, to get yourself set up right. Park so you can pull out onto the road immediately when you want to depart without getting blocked in. Once your "neighborhood" fills in, you'll likely be surrounded by cars, other RVs and tents full of sleeping (or absent) campers, so you'll need to plan ahead if you want to depart on your own schedule. While you're at it, use's prediction to orient the narrow end of your RV as well as you can to the prevailing wind. This will prevent significant noise and rocking in a windstorm. Do it when you land, as you're very unlikely to be able to move again once you're landed. 

6. Add ghetto filters. Once you're landed, tape bandanas over the inside vents. Use your posh masking tape to do it. Some dust will still get through, but it'll be greatly lessened.

7. Remember: you're not on a normal RV trip. Don't plan on cooking, even though you have a handy little kitchen. You will be very, very busy and very, very tired. Also don't plan on hanging out in there. The sun turns RVs into ovens for hours every day, so chill out in one of the city's many pillow-laden chill spaces instead.

8. Get ready to scrub. It's widely estimated that it takes 4-6 hours to clean an RV post-Burning-Man, and that's no exaggeration. Bring several microfiber cloths to wipe down every single surface of the RV interior with diluted castile soap, and get ready to spend around $40 in quarters at a car wash.


* I didn't, and I paid for it. I had one roll of high-quality painter's tape and one roll of cheap masking tape. For the couple of dollars I saved, I spent an extra hour of my afterburn Goo-Goneing the sticky leavings of the cheap stuff from my RV windows.