Desert Camping Information and Tips
It is indeed tough to match the elegance of the desert, but it's a hostile, rather unappealing environment not to be taken for granted. If you aren't careful, you may end up ill, injured, or even worse. With that said, as long as precautions are taken to plan for living in this unpleasant environment, the desert can be a thrilling experience.
The desert can be an intriguing destination for tourists. But camping in the desert requires more organization and planning. If you are planning camping in the desert, ideally you will have some experience to set up tents and light fires. If not, the following guidelines should navigate you towards a memorable excursion in a positive way.
Although this word of information may sound obvious, I can't emphasize enough that having lots of water is crucial to your desert survival. Load a handful of bottles of water in your backpack. Since the daytime temperatures are likely to be extremely high and there are not many options to obtain water, trekking or camping will end up leaving you severely dehydrated without having brought a large quantity of water into the desert.
Storing one gallon of drinking water per person per day is a good benchmark. Consider packing extra for basic hygiene necessities and cookware cleaning. If it appears you've brought too much, you're certainly on the right path. Also, a trusty water purifier can be a valuable decision.
Watch out for wildlife
Deserts are habitat to some wonderful creatures such as foxes, lizards, and many snake species. The majority of them are innocuous, but if frightened, some can be dangerous, including scorpions and rattlesnakes.
The good thing is that none of them are interested in endangering you, provided you leave them alone. Rattlers and other snakes sometimes enjoy the sun on dirt tracks and paved road sides, so mind your step. Don't go digging in the rock holes, and shake your boots before you put them on. And, don't forget to keep mosquito repellant to keep away any insects that could bite you and/or cause disease.
Bring warm clothes
The desert can get colder in the winter, depending on where you are and the time of year. Don't make the error of just packing briefs and tank tops. Carry a few thermal layers, a weather-friendly sleeping bag, and some spare blankets. The temperature can even plunge below freezing in some cases. Warm clothes and some spare blankets can go a long way towards making you feel relaxed after sunset.
I've found temperatures hit a low point in several areas early in the morning, just before sunrise. If I intend to wake up before dawn, I would generally throw on a sweatshirt and take it off until it starts getting warmer.
Wear a full set of clothes
It is indeed smart to wear a long sleeve shirt and trousers on such warmer occasions. Why should you do that? They trap moisture your body gives off by hindering dehydration to help avoid sunstroke. Additionally, when you experience your sweet time in the desert, they will defend you against ocotillo, catclaw, succulents, shin dagger, etc.
You need air conditioning to camp and, depending on your location in the desert, you might not get electricity to power them. Unless you're a fan of having a sunburn or bites from different desert creatures then I would highly encourage you to wear long-sleeved clothes because it's great protection from both.
Wind and heat are the two major issues in deploying a tent in the desert. If you plan to leave your tent up during the day, the sun can be a concern. It transforms into an oven. The strength of the rays will melt some plastic and adhesives, so be cautious about what you are leaving inside.
Place your tent in the shade, maybe under an overhang or close to a cliff wall, if possible. The desert can also get quite windy, making it very difficult to raise your tent. Face your tent 's opening, against the wind direction if possible. Open the intakes at the front and back, and let the gusty winds pass through. Placing your tent perpendicular to the breeze will probably cause it to flutter brutally and vigorously.
Bring a map and compass
You may generally use the GPS on your mobile to navigate, but understand that you may not get cell coverage in the desert. So always bring a plan b, such as a physical paper map and compass, that can help you navigate your location. Getting lost in the desert is one of the worst things you could do. In the desert, there is not always cell service, so relying on your phone is not an ideal solution.
You may not be able to easily find humans for miles so if you want to return to civilization, it is incredibly necessary to bring a map and a compass. Even if you're on a major road it's a disaster to get lost in the desert. In the desert, phones and GPS devices don't work that well.
The desert can be extremely unfair at times, just like the mountains are. Always consider taking plenty of water (minimum 1 gallon per person per day) for your group. Keep your campground away from any wash or creek beds. Keep to the higher elevation when there is rain anywhere around the area, or avoid trekking through low areas if the predicted climate is rainy due to the high threat of severe flooding and washing out roads.
Let someone know where you are going but when you're planning to come back. With a few minutes of preparation and planning, you can end up making your desert trek an excursion you'll like to revisit again and again.