Categories: CampingGuides & hacks

Keep Your Chill in the Heat: 6 Tips for a Successful Trip to the Desert

So — you’ve decided to plan a trip to the desert. After reading about the amazing camping localesand drooling over photos of the jaw-dropping scenery, we don’t blame you! It’s guaranteed that you’ll fall in love with the desert’s magical beauty and endless recreational possibilities, so follow these suggestions to ensure that every excursion is a great one.

  1. Bring Water. Lots of Water. Okay, okay – this tip might seem a bit obvious. Who wouldn’t bring water to the desert? But the question here isn’t if you should fill your bottles, but rather, how much to carry with you. It’s easy to underestimate the amount of fluid you’ll need. According to the National Park Service, a gallon per person, per day is a good estimate. That being said, you’ll want to have twice that amount on hand. Potable water availability is often unreliable and scarce, so stock up ahead of time!
    Near Joshua Tree

  2. GPS is your BFF. Any time you venture into the wilderness, it’s essential to bring navigational equipment – usually a map and a compass suffice. In the desert, keeping track of where you are is even more crucial. Roads and trails can be especially tough to find and follow, and it’s easy to get turned around in such a homogenous landscape. Bring multiple tools to help you keep your bearings, and practice ahead of time so you’ll be super confident when using it for real.Ryan Campground, Joshua Tree National Park

  3. Customize Your Safety Know-How. Even the most seasoned outdoor explorers can (and definitely should) add desert-specific first aid and emergency skills to their repertoire before a trip begins. The desert has its own unique wildlife, like snakes, scorpions, and spiders, and requires specific knowledge. Learn how to handle stings and bites, how best to store your food, and what kind of wildlife to expect in your area. Brush up on the warning signs of sunstroke and dehydration. In all likelihood, you’ll have a fun and safe excursion, but it’s always best to be prepared. Pro tip: shake out your boots in the morning to check for any stowaway critters!
    Desert Mountain Majesty, near Joshua Tree

  4. Give your Vehicle Some TLC. With services typically few and far between, and cell service unreliable, the desert isn’t exactly a hospitable place to have car problems. To avoid the huge bummer of a roadside breakdown, take your vehicle to the shop a few days prior to your adventure for routine maintenance and any repairs you’ve been putting off. Double check your tire pressure before hitting the road, and fill up on gas as often as you can. You might want to hold off on a car wash until afterwards – any good desert trip is bound to kick up an epic amount of dust!
    Dream in a Vintage Caravan, Sky Valley
  5. Shield Yourself from the Sun. As summer turns to fall, it might be tempting to try and extend that golden tan for as long as possible, but think twice about catching your rays in the desert. There is typically little natural protection from the sun’s heat, which can feel harsher in such an arid and exposed ecosystem. Wide-brim hats, sunglasses, and lots of high SPF sunscreen are vital. If possible, bring a tarp to shade your tent during the day. Wear light-colored clothing with long pants and sleeves if you have particularly sensitive skin. Sunburns are never a good look.
    Boot Mesa, Monument Valley Campground
  6. Respect Your Environment! Upon first glance, the desert may look like a resilient badass of an ecosystem – and it is. But in many ways, it’s also fragile, and can easily be disturbed by human missteps. Follow the same rules you would in any wild space. Respect the flora, fauna, rock formations, and other amazing features of the desert wonderland. Practice the tenets of Leave No Trace. And take a few quiet moments during your outing to observe and appreciate the desert’s awe-inspiring beauty – it’s what you’re there for, after all!

 

Jennifer Kotlewski is a Los Angeles based writer, humanitarian, and wildflower junkie. You can see what kind of trouble she’s currently getting into via instagram @jenkotlewski.

Julie's first camping memory was driving across the country with her family on a 3-week road trip in their cerulean blue Chevy van at age 4. She lived #vanlife for 7 years, & strives to make the outdoors accessible, and inclusive to all. Her top three unessential camping items are: a speaker, LED poi, and LED twinkle lights for ambiance.

Recent Posts

Try These Cozy Campfire Alternatives for Fun Without the Fire

Campers often envision spending the evening around a fire pit, chatting and roasting marshmallows for s'mores. And we agree—some of…

2 weeks ago

The Ultimate RV Road Trip Through Utah’s National Parks

Hipcamp and RV LIFE Pro have put together the perfect guide to take the leg work out of planning your…

2 weeks ago

100+ Best Campfire Songs, According to Spotify Users

Birdsong, flowing rivers and rustling winds.  While nature’s soundtrack is one of true harmony, listening to music while exploring the…

3 weeks ago

The 2022 State of Summer Report: US Edition

Camping has always been a favorite American pastime, but its popularity has boomed since the start of the pandemic, and…

2 months ago

The 2022 State of Summer Report: Canadian Edition

Camping has always been a favorite Canadian pastime, but its popularity has boomed since the start of the pandemic, and…

2 months ago

Can’t-Miss Outdoor Experiences in the Thompson Okanagan

We've gathered the very best things to do in the Okanagan during your next outdoor adventure. East of Vancouver and…

2 months ago