Each year thousands of people attempt to go RV camping at the Burning Man festival held on the expansive Nevada Black Rock Desert playa. Learning how to camp at the annual Burning Man Festival seems like an easy task. After all, you have every comfort of home, what could go wrong – right?
Taking your RV to Burning Man is easy, right?
The answer is: lots can go wrong. Even if you’re experienced with RV camping, taking a recreational vehicle to Burning Man can be a test of your wits and survival instincts. Everything you bring onto the playa must last you long enough to survive the event and nothing can be left behind. Some things you’ll need to think about include:
- Which parts of the RV and which possessions need to be protected from dust?
- What will you use to keep the desert heat from cooking you like a baked potato?
- How will you protect your limited supply of water from friends who don’t know how to conserve water when boondocking?
Burning Man RV Camping in the Playa Dust Bowl
Burning Man playa dust is as fine as baby powder and will be your biggest enemy during and long after the festival. Playa dust will settle into every crevice of your RV, from tire wells to the roof and everything in between. Sensitive electronics are especially prone to damage if you’re not careful.
Veteran Burning Man RVer Topher Clark recommends covering RV carpets in plastic cling wrap that’s available at hardware stores. He adds “I also remove a bunch of stuff from the basement that I don’t want to have all dusty upon return.” Insist on a shoes-off policy for everyone who enters and do your best to keep dust down with daily mop-ups. For more dust control, Clark recommends the following:
Open only one bedroom window, put double filters in it and a fan pulling outside air through the filters into the bedroom. This way, the entire RV has a positive pressure of filtered air, reducing dust.
How to Keep Your RV Cool in the Black Rock Playa Heat
If you’re not careful, your RV can turn into a convection oven while you’re parked at Burning Man. Desert heat is unforgiving and weather is unpredictable, but you can keep the sun’s intensity down. For instance, cover your windows in reflective window shades available at RV stores. You can also hang black fabric across interior window shades to keep the temperature cooler.
Finally, remember that heat will always blast your rig from the south. For the best protection, park your rig so your RV awning faces a southerly direction.
Nobody will notice you’re smelly, everyone else is saving water too!
Preserve Your Water Supply and Holding Tank Space
Water use is another big issue when you’re RV camping at Burning Man. If you’re not experienced at dry camping you’re probably not aware of how much water you consume until you’re actually on the playa. It’s always surprising to discover how quickly you go through your supply of fresh water and waste water tank storage space.
Your supply will be more rapidly depleted when friends visit and they don’t understand how RV house systems work. Take extra steps to ensure guests understand that your water supply is very finite. Teach them how to use an RV toilet and use porta-johns whenever possible. Stash a package of baby wipes on board so you can keep showers to a minimum and try to only use fresh water for cooking and drinking.
RV camping at Burning Man is a comfortable way to experience the event, but it has lots of downsides too. Be smart about taking care of your RV on the playa to avoid headaches and hassles during the event and long after you’ve rejoined the real world.