RVs at Burning Man are equally loved and abhorred by participants. Below you will find all sorts of helpful information and tips on the care and feeding of your RV.

What is nice about an RV?

  • Protects you during dust storms/rain
  • A bed
  • You can cook indoors without worrying about dust getting in the food
  • A shower and toilet
  • Refrigeration
  • They carry a lot of supplies

What is not-so-nice about an RV?

  • Expensive to rent (about $2000 for 10 days)
  • High gas cost (about $150.00 per trip to the gas station)
  • They sell out quickly — if you are going do it, do it now!
  • Noisy generators disturb others
  • Keep you isolated from others. Why bother coming to Burning Man if you are going to spend all your time in your RV?

Where to rent an RV?

If you do a web search on RV rentals, you will find many places to rent. Most places require their RVs to be returned by 11 a.m. They will show you a training video to learn how to operate it. Most places also charge for mileage on top of the rental fee.

What to remember when considering an RV

  • You CANNOT hook up or dump anything. What you bring in you must take out.
  • Make sure the gray and black water holding tanks are big enough for the amount of time you will spend on the playa.
  • Check with your car insurance company to see if you are covered to rent an RV. Most companies do offer extra insurance, but if you know you are covered, you could consider foregoing coverage. One thing to keep in mind is whether or not your insurance company will cover cleaning fees, which will be mighty high if there is a rainstorm and the inside of your RV is covered in mud.
  • You may NOT, repeat, YOU MAY NOT dump gray water on the playa. It’s bad karma if you do, and a potential health hazard.

The Generator

One of the nicest things about your RV is the generator. If you have a more modern RV, chances are the generator is behind the driver’s seat and is one of the quietest ones. An Onan generator is, by far, the top-of-the-line generator for low sound emissions.

  • Use your generator on a daily basis for at least 1 hr. If you don’t run it once a day, you will take the chance that your battery will run out and you won’t be able to start the RV when you have to go home.
  • Invest in/borrow a power inverter. During the time you run your generator, attach this power converter to the battery to turn DC to AC. When you turn it off, you can still use the inverter to power the stereo, lights, etc. (The size of the inverter determines how long it gives energy.) In this case, bigger is better.
  • Don’t leave your generator on for long periods of time. You don’t want to waste gas unnecessarily. Besides, most RV rental places actually charge you for generator time. Usually they allow up to 3 hours of free generator time, and charge a minimal fee after that.

The sink, toilet and shower

You have a finite supply of water. You need to be more aware of water usage than you may be at home. Your water mileage will vary with the number of people sharing the RV.

Don’t leave the water running while washing your dishes or yourself. Think frugal. Most RVs have a bigger fresh water tank than gray water tank, and if you let the water run, you will fill the gray water tank. Last year, a guest in our RV was being nice and washed the dishes. Unfortunately, she left the water running and we ran out of gray water space the day of the burn.

Do I need to discuss the toilet situation?

Even though we had a toilet, we would still alternate with the porta-potties. You should only use one-ply RV toilet paper with your RV toilet. Otherwise you may experience problems.

There is no dumping station on-site, and you will not be allowed to dump on the playa. The BLM does issue citations for the dumping of gray or black water. RV servicing will be available for a $50 fee for trailers up to 24′ in length and $60 for one gray and one black tank for RVs that are 25′-35′ in length. Each additional tank is $30.

There is no location for scheduling RV servicing appointments. We’ve tried to have a sign-up booth at Playa Info in the past, and it was horribly inefficient and wasted a lot of people’s time. Keeping that in mind, feel free to stop by Playa Info between the hours of 11am and 1pm for more information.

Just flag ’em down!

The trucks that service RVs make their rounds between 9am and 9pm, and they have an amber flashing light on the top and a big “RV ONLY” sign on the side. The trucks patrol their “zones” in the city all day, and you can flag them down for service as they roam their quadrants, or stop them while they’re in the broader neighborhood and request a local visit. In case of dire emergency/missed opportunity, you can also pedal out to Fire & Services, where you will find a Help Desk and make an appointment (out past the outer road and 6:30).

Make sure that there is someone at your camp to show the driver where to pump AND to pay for the servicing. Keep in mind that the sanitation vendor only accepts cash so plan accordingly. Also, if they can’t get to your rig, they’re not going to be able to service it. Leave a space for the service truck to get to your RV. Pump hoses cannot reach beyond 30 feet.

We also used an outdoor shower to freshen up. You should use the RV shower only every other day. Use unscented baby wipes to keep fresh between showers.

The RV as part of a campsite

When I first drove up to my camp, my RV was not the most welcome sight. We were placed in the corner behind all the tents, which in the end turned out to be great planning. During the windstorms, the RV protected the tents from blowing away. I would recommend that you place your RVs along the boundary of the campsite to protect the common areas from the windstorms. Believe me, your campmates in tents will appreciate you for it.

Decorate your RV

RVs are much more fun when they become art!

  • Have fun with the logo (as long as it is reversible)
  • Decorate it. One of the best RVs I saw was a RV covered in fur (a FUR-V), and one had huge legs (like when the house landed on the wicked witch of the east in the Wizard of Oz). I used bamboo, PVC piping and a parachute to give shade and add some flair