Desert Camping101: A Complete Guide

desert camping
Image by Ute Quaing from Pixabay
This is a collaborative post

So, you’ve decided to take that long-awaited desert trip. Good for you!

In fact, we don’t blame you if you are enthralled by the stunning camping locations and drooling over the photos of the breathtaking scenery. Rest assured, you will fall in love with the desert’s beauty and endless recreational opportunities once you are there.

Here are useful tips to make sure that your next desert trip is unforgettable!

Carry a Tent

It is crucial to choose the right type of tent. Among all kinds, you will need a freestanding tent to camp in the desert, not a hammock tent or tent that needs to be strung up to trees. The main reason being it is unlikely that you will find something suitable in the desert because there aren’t many trees.


The desert is full of resources. All you have to do is know how to get the most out of these resources. For those who love extreme adventure, you can trap rodents in the desert, such as ground squirrels or rabbits. Who knows, you may even catch a Fox! 

Having a pocket knife handy will also help to make sure you hit what you aim for. 

Watch Out For Critters

Many critters could cause you damage when camping in the desert. The most dangerous are the ones that are hard to spot, such as scorpions and snakes. 

You should be aware that anything you leave on the desert floor, including your clothes, sleeping bag, and blanket, could become a refuge for dangerous creatures. You should always sleep on a raised platform and make sure you shake out all your clothes before you put them on.

Be Ready For the Cold

Although it may seem counterintuitive, you must still be prepared for cold weather in desert areas. Winter in the desert is marked by extreme temperature swings. 

It could reach temperatures as high as 80 degrees during the day and freezing at night. Do not let the blue sky fool your eyes, be prepared for cold when you camp in the desert.

Keep an Eye on the Weather

You should always check the weather before you go outdoors, especially when camping in the desert. Temperature swings can be very rapid and affect not only the weather but also your mood. Also, watch out for the possibility of thunderstorms. 

Flash floods can be caused by heavy rainfall in desert environments. You don’t want your tent to be in a slot canyon or placed in an area that could become flooded.

Bring Lots of Water

Hydration is vital in any outdoor activity, but it’s even more crucial in desert environments. Also, make sure not to depend on springs marked on the map. 

Springwater in the desert is often seasonal and can be dried up by the time you reach, it’s a good idea to carry your water, but not too much that it affects your mobility. Remember, moderation is the key.

GPS is your BFF

You should always bring your navigation equipment when you travel into the wilderness. For this reason, a map and a compass can be sufficient. Even more essential is keeping track of where you’re at all times in the desert. 

The truth is, deserts are difficult to navigate and can make it easy for people to get lost. There have been many instances in the past where people have lost their ways in a desert. We don’t want you to end up on that list. So, make sure to have multiple navigational tools. Also, you must know how to use them to get the most out of them.

Give your Vehicle Some TLC

There are few services and almost no cell coverage in the desert, so it is not a great place to have problems with your car. You can avoid this problem by taking your vehicle in for routine maintenance and any necessary repairs. 

Make sure you check your tires before you get on the road. Also, make sure to fuel it up as often as possible. A good idea is to hold back a car wash until after the trip, as dust from the desert can fill up your car for good which will definitely need cleaning once you get back.

Which tip did you find the most helpful? Let us know in the comments!