RV at Burning Man

Stuff to know BEFORE you take your RV to Burning Man!

Burning Man is an amazing event, but it’s even better when you have an RV! Or at least we feel that way! Having excellent shelter out in the hot dusty desert with running water and a refrigerator is priceless. However, it can be an overwhelming cleanup process if you don’t properly prepare your RV.Nikki and Jason at Burning Man
Here are a few tips to help you have a successful burn in an RV.  This is not a complete guide, so make sure to read our post onA virgins guide to Burning Man and the first timers guide on the Burning Man website and subscribe to the newsletter!  Keep in mind you’ll be living in the desert (aka in the middle of nowhere and it’s freakin hot) for an entire week, so be prepared and you will have a great first burn!


Keeping Cool
It’s hot out in the desert but there are a lot of ways to beat the heat without running a generator.  We have collected all of our best tips and tips from fellow burners here:  Keeping Cool In Extreme Heat – Ideas From Burning Man

Surround your RV with lights, at night it’s difficult to see (especially during a dust storm), lights on the roof, ground, everywhere.  Solar powered garden and Christmas lights work best.

Solar power is the best way to get ‘juice’ and we have a lot of information on solar here:
Generators are used in BRC, but be courteous to your neighbors, and don’t be wasteful.
If you don’t have solar panels make sure you run your generator and/or engine for a short bit daily to keep your batteries from draining.  You don’t want to pay for the tow out of BRC!

Fill your tank on your way out of Reno, the lines for Gas near BRC are insane.
Make sure you have enough fuel to exit BRC and run your generator during the week (only when necessary).
We went through 35 gallons from running the generator and the drive to / from Reno.  Keep in mind we averaged 11MPG and ran the generator 15hrs total (mostly for the AC during exodus).

Tape up ALL seams on your RV storage compartments.  This will help keep dust out!  We used 3″ Painter’s tape and it worked great.  Bring at least 2 rolls.

It’s most important to clean your RV ASAP after Burning Man.  The dust will damage your paint, metal, rubber seals, etc if left on too long.  If you want to save money you can use a self service wash bay, there are 3 locations near Reno that have bays large enough for RV’s.  It took us 2 hours at the wash.  Expect to spend $40 for self service wash and vacuum, or if you want to pay a professional to do it expect to pay between $200-$400.Even with the bays and windows taped up you should plan on spending half a day cleaning the interior and storage bays.

Did we miss anything?  If you have any great tips, share them in the comment box below!

Famous for my "how-not-to" videos, and typically the man behind the camera, sometimes I’m forced to be here in the “spotlight”. When you see my face you’re probably reading something more technical than adventurous, but either way I do my best to tell it like it is and infuse my opinions into the commentary…after all this is a blog and not MSN.

Comments (37)

  • Tiago Jeremias

    Please! I speak of Brazil. We are in 3 couples . We’d like to meet Burning Man. What better company to rent a motorhome?. Hug. Sorry with my english.

    • Curious Minion

      Os Wynns não alugaram um trailer, portanto não podem recomendar uma empresa. Eu acho que é difícil alugar um trailer para queimar um homem por causa da sujeira e danos. Desculpa!
      Curious Minion

      • Tiago Jeremias

        Ok, vou continuar minhas buscas! Obrigado!

  • Michelle Le

    Fill up your fuel in Sparks, Nevada, BEFORE the Burn. Especially if your generator pulls from the gas tank. You can be in line for hours (both ways) turning on and off your vehicle. You could run your generator infinitely more than you anticipate. There are mile(s)-Long lines at the pumps outside Black Rock city. Drive in before the Burn with the fullest tank possible. You may even need extra gallons of gas on the side. Observe veteran Burners…. Fill up BEFORE the Burn. This is Burning Man 101.

  • South Texas Fail

    Hey just wanted to say that I really love your videos, they always bring a smile to my face. If you are going to the burn this year, maybe we could meet up, and hand out for a little bit. You know just talk shop, discus defenestrations on our bucket list, possibly take over a small island, you know wholesome family friendly things.
    Any ways keep making awesome videos, and safe travels!

    Oh and if you ever find your self’s in San Antonio, give me a shout. I can show you the best places for really good Tex-Mex!

  • Sunrise Sandy

    I am going this year and for the first time am renting an RV that is contracted with a NO Burn Policy… Besides washing the RV really well, taping the floors with painters covers, covering the furniture, taping the nooks and crannies for easy clean up, using coconut oil and vinegar to clean the dust off, and spraying the engine with air to clear out the dust… What are the major issues that the dust can cause that I should be warned and take precautions when cleaning and before returning the RV? I obviously don’t want to get fined a ton of money for going against my contract, but at this point, we are too late… All suggestions welcome!!!

    • Heehaw

      Disabling gps… fyi you’re going to be paying up

  • Dona

    I’m renting a compact RV, what shade structure do you recommend?

  • Victoria


    My husband and I are wanting to go to BM this year and we were wondering if you two brought you toad? And if you need to vehicle passes if you do?

    Thank you!

    • Don’t bring the toad! You wont need it and won’t be able to use it. The only cars allowed are art cars and really the best way to get around is on foot or on a bike. Make sure to read over the burning man website really well as it will answer most any question you can think of.

  • Joe Cali

    As far as washing the RV ANYWHERE……Truck stops have truck washes that for about $40-50 on average will wash your rig top to bottom with a crew of men including the roof. There is no part they miss and it’s worth the $$$. Truck stops are also a great source for other supplies while fueling up too and if you have Flying J or Good Sam gas discount cards it’s even better!

  • mark

    I too first went in 2012 and every year since. Finally, this year I discovered a 18 wheeler truck wash & RV wash in fernley NV at the pilot truck stop. I usually got off 80 and headed north, seeing only, and stopping only at Loves Travel / truck stop, and missed the Pilot on the eastbound side of 80, which has the RV wash. Its about $40 and WELL worth it, they will not let you hold the spray gun, as too dangerous, but tip them extra and have them do a good job, I requested a little extra under the truck, and also under the hood, but specifically requested to hold the sprayer at least 3-4 ft over the engine, so as not to damage anything by too much pressure too close to electronics under the hood. they were the most professional and probably best paid car washing crew I have ever seen, and speaking english, wow, what a plus to be able to really communicate your specific needs with them. they love burning man washes and probably do hundreds of them. I felt like a dummy for not knowing about it for 3 prior burns. I regret not taping the storage compartments and swore this year I would next year. My windows did not leak at all, but its built in BC and meant for winter camping, so no air leaks, and more insulated truck camper than most (bigfoot brand), I used silver bubble wrap type auto shade custom cut on inside of windows to block sun & kept all doors and windows shut, and parked facing north, and only opened roof vents when I was in the rv and wind not blowing. you must SHUT the roof vents when not in the RV if you want to keep dust out. I like the idea of furnace type filters from your other poster. you must also have a good door mat to wipe feet on too. at the end, I moved it on to my steps, punched a few holes and secured with zip ties.
    evapotron grey water disposal is the best, only seen them, not used one. I too thought of using a household storage container for grey water, but I guess it wont evaporate with a layer of dust on the water, VERY good tip from other poster. saw 1 kiddie pool with a water pump and mesh wire about 3 ft tall for water to run down. Fridges run on propane, not electric. i used a 15 amp battery charger from amazon $50 to recharge (using little honda camp genny for power). One day I will get that onboard genny and fill the prewired compartment.
    Solar oven cooking tip you had on gear video would be a GREAT idea, as you dont want to heat up the interior using the oven, or small outdoor gas bbq attached to the rv (maybe next year). and I also dont think people should be worried about air conditioning. no one wants to be indoors like a hermit anyway when your at BM. I open vents and things up at night to let in the cool air and stay comfortable until 10-11am sleeping. it was so cold this last year I had to turn on the furnace at night, high 40s I believe. You may also wish to cover your engine compartment grill with something like plastic and tape to prevent dust from getting in. Also bring a spare air filter if you can replace it easily and put it on before exodus journey out. I have determined that next year I will probably bring a small contractor air compressor and blow out a lot of dust from different places. prevention of dust is better though.

    • Laurel

      Hey Mark, great feedback Waht did you use the 15amp battery charger for?

  • Great tips. It does look like quite a battle out there with the dust. I think taping everything up prior will save a lot of cleanup time when you go to leave burning man. Notes taken! thanks for sharing.

  • DaddiBrown

    re: Evaporation pit, on the Playa in 2012, I was shocked at how LITTLE evaporation took place in my homemade evaporation pit that was black 6 mil visqueen (plastic) and 4’x8′.. The dust puts a very effective evaporation barrier over waste water, and it takes a REALLY LONG TIME to evaporate even a few gallons. I guess some more experienced camps have a waste water pump that flows the water over rolls of carpet or other evaporation medium. My test run on my dry pit was a few gallons, and I had sludge for about 3 days! By the way, I have made my living for 30 years drying out water damaged buildings, I thought the Playa would snap up the water, but it doesnt!

  • Hey y’all, just saw y’all at the Glen Allen gas station the other day. Maybe we’ll see Ya at burnin man this year! Find us at
    Just wanted to sat HAYY!!

    • Well hello right back at ya! I don’t think we will make it to burning man this year as we will still be here in Alaska. Are you going?

      • What up Nikki,

        Well, guess we won’t see ya down there. How long are you guys hanging in Alaska? We should all do some dinner one evening!

  • patty

    where can I look up RV campsites I can join?

    • The BM facebook page is a good place to ask those questions. The AEZ (alternative energy zone) is our favorite but you cant run a generator in that camp. If you are a first timer the lamplighters is also a great camp to join.

  • Artemus Gordon

    Love your videos! Planning on attending next year 2015. One thing I read about was using “solar showers” or outside showers on RVs. Both seem to violate gray water spillage rules? I have a large Fifthwheel and carry 150 gallons of water. My gray water capacity is far less. Outside showers would solve that problem, but again it violates a directive? Can you comment!


      • Artemus Gordon

        I had a feeling it was going to be box or kids pool. They gray water is always the weak link in dry camping. We have a fithwheel and 3 ton pickup. We can carry lots of water and fuel for generator etc.

        Generator is my next concern. If I manage to get an outside location for my rig, does anyone care how much I run it? Mine is in a climate controlled box that is equipped with filters generating about 40 Decibels. I will have enough fuel to last all week running 7-8 hours per day. Is this allowed?

        Would you consider putting a group location together for newbies and followers? Lol. I can’t think of better folks then you to camp during the event in 2015! Don’t want to build a city, just camp with like minded folks!

        • Laurel

          Hi there, going to BM this year. Wonder if a portable generator with fans/swamp cooler works instead of the whole RV Generator? how did things go for you?

  • JVNomads

    Where were you cats during Burning Man? Wondering if you were able to keep the RV cool enough for them or if you boarded them?

    p.s. Love your site!

    • No, we don’t encourage anyone to bring pets (it’s not the place for them) and its against burning man rules. They can kick you out if they find you with a pet. We boarded them in Reno and picked them up after.

  • mary

    Great informative videos!!

    I’m bringing a friend’s RV to BM this year. I’m a virgin and need some RV camping tips, especially so I can return the RV in the same condition I received it in (and not lose a friend due to any dust damage!).

    Doesn’t the blue painter’s tape leave a residue on the vehicle after baking in the sun for a week?

    Your first comment ~ do you mean, have the nose of the RV pointing north west?

    How did you deal with the heat of the days without running your gennie and AC more?

    Did you just tape the edges of the windows, or did you have the windows fully covered to keep the sunlight/heat out?

    Thanks so much….and any other advice you can think of will be greatly appreciated!!

    Oh, and do you do any pre-playa prep to keep the dust from sticking? I’ve heard some ppl Armor -all the whole interior of RV, then other ppl say don’t use armor-all…

  • If you need your rv detailed call us for 2013 burningman season 888-334-4378

  • Angie

    question from a BM virgin – where do you/can you park your RV if you are not part of a camp? is it a free for all or do you have to get a specific spot before? I looked on the BM site but didn’t see any info on where to park

    • Hey Angie, when you get to the gate tell them you are a virgin and they will help you out. It is a free for all outside of the designated camps. If you want to be a part of a camp, get on the facebook page and reach out to the lamplighters. It’s a community group that lights the city and is a great group for newbie’s and will help you feel a part of everything…but just one of many you could join. We parked at 6:45 between I and H. It was very quite so we had no trouble sleeping and we loved our neighbors.

  • We took our “home” to BM last year and hubby covered all the screens and a/c vents with furnace type filters. This allowed us to keep the windows open and the dust out!

  • What size are your videos when you finish them?
    I’m having trouble finding a “happy” size that works well on the net.
    Ya’ll RV a lot different than my wife and I. If there’s not a 50 amp, water and sewer she’s not staying. I keep telling her she’s missing out.
    Will your solar panels run your Fridge or just what will it run?
    thank you for your time,

  • I am glad that you had a good time at the burn.Here is another perspective from a fellow triker. We are a tight group. I watched your flight with Rebel too. Any time you pass through the southwest give us a shout. Someone will take you up for a flight.

  • Super tips! I’ll keep this post bookmarked!


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