5 Camping/Hiking Tips to Keep You From Going Crazy in the Desert


This one should go without saying, but dehydration is still very common especially in the desert. You need to always be drinking water, never rationing it.

In the desert, your body loses much more water than it does in wooded areas, especially when hiking. A good rule of thumb when hiking in the desert: when the water’s half gone, it’s time to head back.

When we camped in Joshua Tree, my girlfriend became dehydrated almost to the point of heat stroke, and only at the campsite! I made her get into the car and we blasted the A/C until she finished a bottle of water. I recommend doing this for anyone severely dehydrated if possible.

Always play it safe. Dehydration can be extremely dangerous.

2. Head Out Early

Hiking in the desert is obviously hot, and temperature changes can be pretty drastic. In the Mojave, the temperature can easily change 20°-30°F between day and night during peak tourist season (May-June).

Take advantage of the cooler mornings and wake up nice and early to beat the heat on those longer hikes. Hiking in the middle of the day is quite unpleasant and also easier to become dehydrated. (Don’t forget about that water!)

3. Have All Firewood Beforehand

If you’re going to light a fire in the desert, you need to bring ALL of your own firewood, and that includes kindling. This is especially true if you camp in a National Park such as Joshua Tree, where the burning of anything in the park is prohibited. It’s frustrating when you don’t have all that you need to get a s’mores-worthy fire roaring.

Make sure to buy quarter logs at a firewood stand or grocery store that is in the area since transporting firewood across state borders is illegal in many places, and just shouldn’t be done anyway. Transporting firewood across the border into a different state risks the spread of invasive diseases and bugs that can easily be avoided.

Specific state regulations and suggestions can also be found on www.dontmovefirewood.org

4. Keep All Food in Hard Containers

This is easy if you are keeping food refrigerated in a cooler, but even things like granola bars and fruits that don’t necessarily need to be refrigerated should go in a hard plastic container. We have had little visitors come and nibble through our plastic bags and eat all of our bananas after leaving them unattended for just minutes.

Small wildlife such as squirrels and even lizards can easily find their way into your food if you’re not careful. It’s a bummer for you, and it’s unhealthy for them, so try to keep all food locked away nice and tight.

5. Keep Your Tent Cool

If you can, try to set up your tent in a shady area. However, this can be tricky since the desert is notorious for having very little shade.

You may find that having a bigger tent than you need is better. A bigger tent provides more airflow, keeping you from overheating. You can also keep the rain cover off during the day if you’re certain it won’t rain. This provides for a little extra airflow while you sleep.

Stay cool, stay hydrated, and stay safe in the desert.

Stay Lost,


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