RV Rental Burning Man | Ultimate Guide to the Festival in an RV

RV Rental Burning Man | Ultimate Guide to the Festival in an RV

Burning Man 2018, a festival like nothing on earth

The first tickets have been snapped up and the buzz surrounding Burning Man Festival 2018 has already ignited. For many RV travellers it’s 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, Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada is transformed into a circular-shaped city, with the Burning Man at its centre – and for seven days you can park up your RV rental at Burning Man and enjoy this life-changing experience of art, community, self-reliance and celebration! But first you must connect with the Motorhome Republic Ultimate Guide to Burning Man in an RV. 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

Burning Man 2018 runs from August 26 to September 3. Beware that most suppliers are closed on Sunday August 26th so you will have to pick up the day before on the Saturday or earlier. The first Monday of September is Labor Day, so the branches will be closed then too. Just pick up a bit earlier and drop off a day or two later so you aren't rushed. This is one of the most highly anticipated events on earth, so it's crucial to book tickets to Burning Man as soon possible. Similarly, securing your RV rental for Burning Man is best done many months ahead of time, as driving an RV to this event is a time honoured tradition for many. Even if taking an RV to Burning Man is an entirely new experience for you, this is still arguably the most comfortable way to stay at Black Rock City, the temporary city that springs up each year in the desert of Nevada. So, what are the key questions you need to ask yourself when renting an RV for the Burning Man Festival 2018?

The right RV for you

One of the defining characteristics of Burning Man is the goal 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 Black Rock City, the community that grows up around Burning Man 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 City playa.

Helpful tips for RV renters:

1. No dumping. If your waste tanks reach capacity, you will need to pay for the RV servicing truck to take your waste away.

2. Be careful not to run your RV battery down. Use a generator for supplementary power if you need to.

3. Get a good idea of the capacity of your black and grey water tanks before you set out.

4. Book early. Many of your fellow burners will be renting RVs too, so get in early before supply runs dry.

5. Strong winds can rise quickly in the desert - always secure any camping gear you have outside your RV.

6. The parking arrangements at Burning Man 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 everything happens at Black Rock City which is 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 Rental Burning Man here always exceeds supply. The same situation applies in San Francisco, which was Burning Man’s original 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 Franciso 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 to 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. Somewhat under the radar for Burning Man RV rental, 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 Burning Man RV. It may seem like a distant starting point north-west 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 for Burning Man… 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 adapt a reflective, forgiving, Burning Man-style 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 Burning Man - 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 Burning Man:

  • 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 Burning Man, which basically means that as the RVs get booked, prices rise. Just be aware that the security deposit increases to $1000 over the Burning Man 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 Burning Man. 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 Burning Man 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 a Burning Man 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 Burning Man 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 Burning Man 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 Burning Man Festival 2018 RV adventure. But we want to know your tips and advice for other motorhome and RV adventurers. Have you been to Burning Man Festival before and possess inside knowledge? What have we missed? Do you have any questions you want answered? Please drop us an email in the comments section below.