Massive areas all over the country receive a fair amount of snowfall during the winter, but if you live in the southwest or west, winter can mean an opportunity for something not many of us have tried before – desert camping.
The desert is commonly thought of as a forbidding landscape, but trust us when we say that it is a lot more tolerable during wintertime. Nonetheless, there are some vital things you need to keep in mind when camping in the desert.
Preparing for cold weather may seem contrary to what your common sense suggests, but it’s still an essential part of your preparation. The climate in the desert – particularly during wintertime – is characterized by massive temperature swings so that you could be sweating during the day but freezing during the night. Don’t be fooled by that clear blue sky and pack appropriately, including layers and warm clothes.
Pay close attention to the weather
Checking the weather is something you should always do before heading outdoors, but particularly when you’re camping in the desert. We mentioned swings in temperature previously, but swings in weather are also frequent and can happen very rapidly. You should pay particular attention to the chance of thunderstorms, as large amounts of rainfall can create flash floods. Therefore, avoid camping somewhere that can flood quickly, and stay out of slot canyons.
Choose your tent wisely
You need to consider the type of tent you’ll take with you. Desert camping means you’ll need a free-standing shelter, rather than a tent that needs to be strung up to a tree or a hammock. There are not many trees (if any!) in the area where you’ll be camping, so it’s highly unlikely you’ll find something suitable.
Don’t forget about hydration
Hydration is vital anytime you’re in the outdoors, but especially in a desert environment. Make sure to always take extra water with you, as it will be particularly hard to find in the desert. Don’t rely on your map to give you the location of springs, as they can be seasonal and dry up during certain times of the year, if not for years.
Be on the lookout for wildlife
There are loads of critters that can harm you when camping in the desert. Some of the most dangerous are the ones you can’t really see, such as scorpions or snakes. Therefore, it’s crucial that you’re aware that anything left on the floor, including your shoes and sleeping bag, can possibly become home to a dangerous creature. Your best bet is to sleep on a raised sleeping bag and shake out your boots and clothes before putting them on.
Camping in the desert can be an enriching experience, just take note of these essential tips and tricks, and you’ll be all set!