Nature: Activities/Adventure Travel Tips USA

6 Tips for RVing at Burning Man 2018

Written by Rachel Simpson

Burning Man Festival takes place each year in Black Rock City in the deserts of Nevada. The festival is based around strong community ideals, like radical inclusion, self-reliance, participation, and ‘leave no trace’ attitude. Many of the attendees are veteran festival-goers, taking part in the pop-up community experience every year, and are well-prepared for the unique challenges of taking an RV to the Black Rock desert playa. If you’re attending Burning Man for the first time this year, make sure to read our tips for attending in an RV, so you can make your experience as easy and enjoyable as possible.

1. Expect dust. A lot of dust.

Anyone who’s ever been to Burning Man knows that there is a lot of dust blowing around, and it gets EVERYWHERE. The soil in Black Rock is called ‘Playa Dust’. This is dried, packed and ground up alkali lake bed dust, and the particles are so minuscule (about 3 times finer than talcum powder) that it gets on and into everything. You, your RV, and all your belongings will be covered in dust from the moment you arrive until well after you leave. The best ways to mitigate its spread is to wear something like a bandana to mask your nose and mouth, and wash off as much as possible before entering your RV each time. If you’re renting your RV, the owner will be grateful for your attempts to keep it out!

Don’t worry though! The playa dust can’t hurt you, and it’s okay if you can’t cover your nose and mouth – it’s just annoying.

2. Practice makes perfect!

There’s no hookups for RVs at Burning Man, so you have to be ready for a boondocking trip! Not only will you be without power, but you’ll be a long drive away from any resources, including food and water, so you’ll need to plan carefully to make the most out of everything you bring so you can stay comfortable. Avoid running your generator as much as possible, to make sure you have the option to use it when you really need it, and look for other ways to combat problems. Solar powered lights are a great option inside your RV and out, portable power banks can help keep electronics going, and battery powered fans will give some respite from the heat. Unplug all electronics, including RV appliances, and try to prolong the use of blackwater tanks.

If you’ve never stayed in an RV without power or resources before, make sure you have a practice run before the festival, so you can learn how to be more efficient with your resources, especially power, food, and water.

3. Keep that dust out!

Keep your RV closed as much as possible! Use only one door, and try to keep your trips inside and out to a minimum, especially when the wind picks up. Try to create a dust quarantine zone in the entranceway: lay down some plastic on the floor, and consider hanging plastic sheets up too. Leave some wet wipes in easy reach of the entrance so you can wipe off as much dust as possible before entering, and make sure shoes are taken off and left by the door.

The best shoes for Burning Man are comfortable sandals. There’s less shoe to collect dust, and your feet will be able to breath in the hot weather.

4. Prepare the RV!

Even if you’re careful to keep the dust out of your RV, it’ll still get in. Consider plastic sheeting and wrap, tarps, and furniture covers to protect the interior furniture and carpets. Protect spare sheets, clothes and shoes from the dust by keeping them in closed plastic bags until you need them. Do the same with food. Keep your vents closed from well before you arrive, and tape over seams and switches if possible.

Everything will need a good clean after Burning Man, especially the RV. This will likely mean paying extra for a rental RV’s cleaning. For cleaning surfaces, a water/vinegar mix works best.

5. Be aware of what the wind is doing

Since Burning Man is held in the desert in Nevada, you know it’s going to be HOT.  Awnings and canopies will provide shade, but due to frequent wind and dust storms, they can’t be left up permanently. If you choose to enter the RV to cool down, be careful when opening windows and vents – keep an eye on what the wind is doing and be ready to close them as soon as it picks up to minimize the dust travelling inside. Leave windows and vents closed, and awnings and canopies packed away when you don’t need them, so you don’t have to worry.

Remember to embrace the wind! Getting outside in a dust storm is one of the most memorable experiences to be had at Burning Man, so bring some goggles and get out there!

6. Bring all your water, and don’t waste it!

The only water available during Burning Man is whatever water you bring with you. Make sure you bring enough drinking water for everyone for the entire time you’ll be out, and extra for cooking and cleaning. Showering will use the most water out of anything you do, so cutting out showers is the best way to conserve water. Keep clean using wet wipes and dry shampoo, and try not to stress if you don’t feel so fresh – everyone else is in the same boat! To save space in your gray water tank, considering evaporating any cleaning, dish, and otherwise dirty water, and reuse what you can.

While rain isn’t common during Burning Man, be prepared to collect and boil rainwater to use in emergencies.


Don’t be overwhelmed by all the advice! It may sound like a lot of work, but some simple planning and preparation will help you have the best experience possible at Burning Man! If you’re still on the lookout for an RV to rent for Burning Man, check out listings from local owners on Mighway!

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