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How To Prepare Your RV For Burning Man


Vehicles in line to get into burning man.
Even the line to get into Burning Man is dusty! Photo by Carol Carimi Acutt

You Might Be Ready To Take On Burning Man…But Is Your RV?

If you’ve never had the opportunity to trek into Black Rock City to experience Burning Man, words are difficult to truly describe it. This is a gifting society (you can’t purchase anything at Burning Man, except for ice) adorned with an extreme sense of community.

The community brings mind-boggling art, including music from famous DJs, live music, bars, and restaurants. You’ll also find games of all sorts, performances, yoga, massage, and numerous other unique things. Creativity seems to burst at the playa’s dust-coated seams, despite there being no walls and miles of open space.  

About that dust at Burning Man

Yes, there is dust (and lots of it) at Burning Man. But this is not your normal run-of-the-mill house dust; this is special dust, bright white and sparkly. On some days, the dust is just on the ground, on your shoes, and on your bike tires. On other days, it fills the air in intense white dust storms.   

So, how does one take an RV into this unpredictable environment? There is a way. Whether you are bringing your RV for the first time or renting yours to a Burner, there are ways to protect it. Before you decide to drive onto the cracked Burning Man landscape or lend your RV to someone else, you must accept one truth: there will be dust. Once you embrace this idea, everything will be fine. 

How do you protect your RV from the dust?

We’ve put together eight ways to help keep that Burning Man dust manageable and OUT of your RV. 

1. Cover your RV’s floor during Burning Man

Line the entire RV floor (every inch!) with either carpenter’s plastic (the super thick, heavy-duty kind) or very thick carpenter painter’s paper. Carefully and thoroughly paper tape this lining to the sides of the RV so dust cannot get underneath it.

2. Cover those cushions

Cover every cushion and piece of furniture with a bed sheet or another piece of material to protect it from any dust.

3. Use air conditioning filters creatively

Purchase several air filters in order to tape them to the outside of the RV over all open filtration systems. Anywhere there is an opening that will let air into the RV or its mechanical systems must be protected by an air filter. Use painter’s tape, white is best frankly because it just looks better or Frog Tape (do NOT use duct tape or masking tape because in the heat it leaves a sticky mess)  And don’t skimp on the tape, buy several rolls, you don’t want to run out!  

You may want to re-tape these filters during the week of Burning Man, so be prepared with an extra roll of tape and extra filters. These filters should be placed once you have arrived in the town of Gerlach or while waiting in line to enter Burning Man, which can take several hours. Just watch the weather; you want to make sure you tape the filters before a dust storm hits.

The one thing to watch here, however, is your heater vents. You won’t want to cover those with flammable air filters if you intend to use your furnace or water heater while at Burning Man.

4. Tape up those window frames

Tape up all window frames from the outside with white painter’s tape or Frog Tape and also on the inside of the RV. In order to keep dust out of the RV, you’ll want to try to keep dust out of those window tracks too. If you don’t, trying to open your windows the next time will be a challenge.

Window of classic teardrop trailer is taped to keep dust out.
Seal your window frame edges and other cracks before you get to Burning Man. Photo by Carol Carimi Acutt

5. Cover other external openings

Tape up any cracks or crevices on the outside of the RV that the filter cannot cover. If you are taping over vent fans in any way, be sure and put a note or tape on the controls on the inside too so you don’t accidentally put strain on that motor while trying to open a taped-down vent fan.

Classic travel trailer with vents covered to keep dust out during burning man.
Cover any vents you can safely cover with air filter material. Photo by Carol Carimi Acutt

6. Stock up on white vinegar before you head to Burning Man

Bring several bottles of white vinegar for cleaning feet before entering the RV. A mixture of water and vinegar in a bowl does the job quite well. Playa dust is extremely alkaline, so the acidity of the vinegar removes the dust easily from skin. You can also use a vinegar and water mix to wipe down countertops inside the RV.

7. Stock up on supplies before Burning Man

Be sure to load up on these general supplies for your RV: probiotic black tank solution, tools, extra tape, extra filters, a shade structure with holes in the material so the wind won’t take it down, and a solar panel to charge up your RV battery while off-grid. There are trucks driving around to clean the black & gray tanks; you just have to flag them down and pay between $50 and $60 cash. 

8. Cover your table 

Lastly, line your indoor RV table with a heavy-duty wipeable tablecloth like the LITOCLOTH (just fold it in half since they are designed for eight-foot outdoor tables). The LITOCLOTH, available at litocloth.com, will protect the seams of your table and the finish. And it’s also best to have one for your outdoor table as well. It comes with straps so it won’t blow away during wind storms, and it can handle a mixture of water and vinegar to make it dust-free before eating.

Most of all, enjoy the experience—enjoy the Burn and flow. That’s the best part of Burning Man: the magic that happens during the flow.

9. Cover your RV

Although it’s a big ask, if you have any way to cover all or part of your RV to put an extra layer between the sun and the RVs surface, it might make the difference between staying cool, and barely tolerable.


Forums such as iRV2.com and blog sites like RV LIFE, Do It Yourself RV, and Camper Report provide all the information you need to enjoy your RV. You’ll also find brand-specific information on additional forums like Air Forums, Forest River Forums, and Jayco Owners Forum.

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Author Carol Carimi Acutt Avatar

Carol Carimi Acutt

When Carol isn’t producing television shows, or running Luxury in the Outdoors, she’s exploring the U.S. with her family in their Shasta Airflyte Trailer. She loves hiking in nature and cooking with friends around the campfire.

5 thoughts on “How To Prepare Your RV For Burning Man

  1. Been going to the burn since 2009, and run a theme camp, so I am out there for many extra days. I also have a side business fixing RV’s and small engines like their generators.

    I’ve never taped my windows and don’t recommend it. If you have an old 70’s RV with louvered windows, then by all means tape them. If you have an RV from the last 30 years with sliding windows, they seal very well, and you’re just causing a bunch of work & potential paint/vinyl damage when you remove it. If you have gasket leaks on your compartments, just fix them, not tape them. Besides nothing screams I am on my way to Burning Man like blue painters tape all over windows. I don’t like getting pulled over…

    Make sure there is an easy pathway for the pump/water trucks to fill and pump you out. Their hoses are about 30′ The closer the better, and have CASH to pay them. Have a sign ready to put out saying Need Pump/Need Water if you will need those services…I don’t. I just tell everyone the bathroom is broken, and only use it for #1 with minimal water. Lasts all week! Extra Chemical in both Black and Grey tanks throughout the week is your friend to keep it fresh smelling inside. The high temperatures encourage fermentation/growth inside your holding tanks. Only use CHLORINATED CITY WATER in your fresh water tank, or you can get algae in your tanks. I’ve fixed this for people back in civilization.

    Double check your air filter on the generator before you leave pavement, as soon as you’ve parked it permanently, and a few times throughout the week. Some models of Onan/Cummins generators have a habit of filters coming loose. This is the worst place for this to happen!

    Limit within reason how many people can come in your RV. It’s your home, keep the party outside. That will have the biggest factor in how hard it is to clean. Trust me, I learned this one the hard way my second year.

    Wipe everything Horizontal down on the inside before you go to bed, or just after you’re up with an dampvold (ie thrift store) towel that you’re only going to use once on the trip. Start on counters, and end on floors.

    You’re going to want to be able to use the bathroom vent and fan, so don’t tape it up! and have a filtered inlet somewhere (Bathroom window is obvious) for the replacement air to come in. You don’t need to get crazy beyond that. If you suck air out of the RV, it’s replacement and the dust with it will come in somewhere else.

    If you’re hauling a trailer (which most of us are), that has a bunch of level real estate on the tongue frame, put 5,or 10 gallons of fuel strapped down there. It’s 80 miles between Fernley and Black Rock city. RV gets 8mpg…it’s not that hard people. You’ll likely already have 1/4 of your gas tank left to get back anyway because most RV’s don’t let the generator touch the last 1/4 tank anyway, so you don’t have to worry, or stop in Gerlach or Empire, wait forever, and pay ridiculous prices.

    Install a 12V computer fan or two on your refrigerator stack to keep it running efficiently in the temperatures it’s going to deal with. If it’s a fridge in a slideout, put alot of fan on it, as they don’t have a top roof vent, and get less cooling with a top side vent. If it’s a multi source fridge, force it to gas, as the electric mode wastes a ton of power…600W continuously!

    Make absolutely certain your slide outs are adjusted correctly so they seal properly both inside and outside, also when you bring your slide out in to go home, wipe down the outsides before you run it in to limit the crap that gets in your seals and ultimately past them and into the interior of the coach.

  2. Nice to see this article after the burn. Everything said is correct and well worth it. Will try taping the seems next year, especially after this year’s dusty burn. We also put air filters inside the roof vents to prevent dust coming in. Have also put green air filter material on the screen door so we can leave the main door open and just the screen door closed when the dust storms aren’t so bad. And to account for inflation, the price for single hose pump out is now $90 and double hose pump out is $130. You can also buy water for your RV out there and this year it was $2 a gallon. Pricy, but worth it for that midweek shower!

  3. You missed the most obvious and effective method to protect your RV from Burning Man dust……DON’T GO!!!! DUH!!! You’re welcome…..

  4. To each his own, but Burning Man sounds like a nightmare all around. The crowds, the dust, the ridiculous wear, tear and risk to your vehicle. The crowds. Ugh.

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