Desert Camping Done Right

The desert can be a severe and uncompromising place if you enter it lightly. We outline the survival strategies, essential gear, and desert hot spots to get you safely on your way to discovering the full vitality of these parched lands.
monument valley, utah
Walk this way—carefully (Comstock)
The Great American Desert
Deserts are the place to go when you're ready for a wild detour off the beaten path. Whether you're into camping, hiking, biking, kayaking, or canyoneering, read Outside 's packed guide to the 16 best trips in 500,000 glorious square miles of North American desert.

"One of the myths is that the desert is dry and lifeless, void of plants and animals," says Dr. Christopher Van Tilburg, a Hood River, Oregon-based doctor and a member of the board of directors at the Wilderness Medical Society. "People who don’t know the desert think the desert is desolate." As a result, inexperienced campers often make the mistake of assuming that the desert will be a barren, overbaked wilderness—but in-the-know folks are prepared for an environment of extremes, where both heat exhaustion and hypothermia, bone-dryness and flash floods, are possible. Here, we take a look at the best ways to come prepared to the desert, the essential camping gear, three of our favorite camping spots, and everything else you need to get the most out of your journey into these life-rich sandy, rocky realms.

Published: 27 Sep 2005 | Last Updated: 24 Oct 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication



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