RV Rental for a Nevada Summer Festival | Ultimate Guide to the Fest in an RV

RV Rental for a Nevada Summer Festival | Ultimate Guide to the Fest in an RV

A festival like nothing on Earth

The first tickets have been snapped up and the buzz surrounding Nevada's biggest, most famous and most eclectic festival has already ignited. For many RV travellers this desert event is considered the zenith, the peak, the ultimate conception of love, life and all that is positive in the world. The most ecologically-friendly event on the planet, this alternative milestone festival sees the Black Rock Desert transformed into a thriving city - and for seven days you can park up your RV rental here and enjoy this life-changing experience of art, community, self-reliance and celebration! But first , brush up on your festival knowledge with our guide to all you'll need to know when booking an RV for the fest. We have the inside track on where to rent and all of the key motorhome suppliers. So, strap yourself in… it’s gonna be one hell of a ride!

The hottest campervan ticket in town

This event in the Nevada desert typically runs over the course of a week in August/September, but you'll need to book your RV rental long before that point in order to beat the rush. This is one of the most highly anticipated festivals on Earth, which means that motorhome supply is at a premium over this period. Booking six months or more in advance is highly recommended. Even if there are vehicles left when you go to book later, it's unlikely that you'd be able to find a model you want from a location you're happy with - so get booking ASAP

Once you're aware of the need to book early, there are a few other key questions you should be asking when planning to head into the Black Rock Desert in an RV.


The right RV for you

This particular festival has an ethos of stripping away the unnecessary, so the simplicity of a small sleepervan is perfect for many festival goers. These modified vans tend to sleep two people and are equipped with a few essential facilities like a cooking station and sometimes a fridge. If you want something a little more spacious however, no one is going to look sideways at you. A self-contained RV is likely to have its own shower and toilet (providing very welcome relief from the heat and dust) as well as cooking facilities.

Be aware that the city which grows up around the festival each year lacks pretty much any facilities whatsoever, so don’t go into the experience expecting to have things like bathrooms, electrical hookups or dump stations. There is sometimes the option to pay for a roaming RV servicing truck to cart away your black and grey water.

Make sure you’re well prepared before driving your RV rental out to the Black Rock Desert.

Helpful tips for RV renters:

  • No dumping. If your waste tanks reach capacity, you will need to pay for the RV servicing truck to take your waste away.
  • Be careful not to run your RV battery down. Use a generator for supplementary power if you need to.
  • Get a good idea of the capacity of your black and grey water tanks before you set out.
  • Book early. Many of your fellow burners will be renting RVs too, so get in early before supply runs dry.
  • Strong winds can rise quickly in the desert - always secure any camping gear you have outside your RV.
  • The parking arrangements can seem confusing at first but don’t worry, you’ll be given a map.

Burning Man is the ultimate exercise in creative freedom.

Where shall I pick up my RV? Los Angeles/Las Vegas/Salt Lake

Now seeing as all the excitement happens in the middle of a desert, you obviously need to fly in or make your own way to a suitable pick-up point for an RV rental. The most popular spot is Reno, a 3.5-hour drive (110 miles) to Black Rock. However, demand for RV rentals here always exceeds supply in the lead up to this event. The same situation applies in San Francisco, which served as the festival's spiritual home at Baker Beach back in 1986. You can try, but you’ll be lucky to land a San Francisco RV. But do remember that RVs outside of San Francisco and Reno are generally cheaper and you can also enjoy a longer, scenic drive to the festival.

A more direct route, although taking upwards of 10 to 11 hours, is Los Angeles. Just head north, bypassing San Fran and Reno to the west. Las Vegas is a similar drive and there are obvious attractions in Sin City which can make for a great way to start any trip.

Salt Lake City is a little gem to the east, around the same travelling distance as LA and Vegas. Flying somewhat under the radar for RV rentals, if the other spots are sold out, this could work for you. And, of course, you can enjoy Great Salt Lake and beautiful mountainous landscapes on the way.

Or perhaps consider Portland for your RV pick up. It may seem like a distant starting point northwest of the Black Rock Desert, but can be travelled in around 10 to 11 hours. It’s also a picturesque journey through Willamette and Seschutes National Forests.

   Those planning an RV trip to Burning Man will need to book early to avoid disappointment.

RV suppliers… compare the top brands

It’s one of the biggest weeks in the motorhome rental calendar, where demand far exceeds supply. Don’t be surprised if RV rates are somewhat higher than at other times of the year – everyone is at it, so it's best to adapt a reflective, forgiving attitude, because there’s nothing you can do about it. Another important point to keep in mind is that your RV rental will be filthy by the end of the fest - in the dusty desert environment, this is inevitable. Most RV rental companies will charge a hefty cleaning fee for vehicles returned dirty - this can usually be avoided by returning the rental in a clean and tidy state. But it’s not all bad… remember, if a few of you are travelling in your motorhome you can split the cost, so it could be around $70 bucks per night accommodation depending on numbers. But here’s what you need to know about how the major RV rental companies work with regards to this event:

  • Cruise America has been in business for more than 40 years and is a major player in RV rental for Burning Man 2018. They ‘flex’ their rates for this summer festival, which basically means that as the RVs get booked, prices rise. Just be aware that the security deposit increases to $1000 over this particular period. Returning the vehicle in good shape is absolutely essential, or you will lose your deposit. 

  • Escape Campervans have a good reputation for the quality of their vehicles, with their 2- to 4-berth options perfect for Burning Man 2018. There is a $750 grooming fee for those attending the festival. Make sure to let Escape know that you are going, because if you don't you will be charged $1500 in grooming fees when returning the vehicle.

  • Lost Campers have additional fees and booking costs between $1200-$1400 for those attending the festival, but while their smaller vehicles are not self-contained, these are cheaper and can help keep your costs down.  

  • With El Monte, international visitors heading to the fest will need to pay a $1000 surcharge when picking up from San Francisco. Please note that you must bring back the vehicle in the same condition that you received it in, or you may be charged cleaning fees at $50 an hour. Their Reno branch moves to Grand Sierra (just outside of Black Rock City) specially for the festival. 

  • Apollo vehicles are a maximum of three years old and they are an international brand with a good reputation. Generally sleeping up to five adults, you will have to pay an event surcharge but there are no other hidden costs – just make sure you tell Apollo where you are going.

  • Star RV have motorhomes that are less than one-year-old and their comfort levels are a big plus-point. From two to six people can be catered for. Be aware, there are surcharges for festival attendees.

  • Jucy green vehicles aren’t difficult to spot and their ‘Trailblazer’ sleeps up to four. Their fuel-efficiency is a major plus-point and the smaller vehicle can be easier to get around with than a larger vehicle. Although, like most suppliers, Jucy has a cleaning fee, you can get up to half of the fee back if you bring the vehicle back in the same state it was picked up in, saving you up to $350!

  • Road Bear RV have brand new vehicles that they want to sell at the height of summer, but they strictly limit RVs at this particular event and your chances of getting hold of one are slim. However, they can be cheaper than their competitors. They also have additional compulsory fees depending on your pick up point.

Now you have the basics for your RV summer festival adventure in the Nevada desert. But we want to know your tips and advice for other motorhome and RV adventurers. Have you been to this event before and possess inside knowledge? What have we missed? Do you have any questions you want answered? Please drop us a line in the comments section below.

Written By: Kristof Haines

It’s funny how motorhome memories stick with you. I can still recall a motorhome vacation my family took when I was five years old and how awesome I thought I was, tucked away in a loft bed above the cab. From revealing unique destinations to providing tips and tricks, it’s my mission to help others build great motorhome memories too.