The sunsets and beautiful desert landscape are perfect for camping or boondocking. When the winter rolls around deserts are the best place to escape to and you can explore nature from the comfort of your home on wheels. As with any adventure, there can be hurdles to jump over, and desert boondocking is no different. Once you understand what to expect, your trip will be nothing but fun.
I’ve been doing lots of boondocking in the desert of California and Arizona lately with my friends. It’s easy to find open BLM lands with some town around in a reasonable distance.
It is common for people to choose developed parks to stay in because they believe they are safer there. However, crime and bad things can happen everywhere so you should be safe no matter where you park. Never assume that because the neighbors are friendly that your stuff is safe, but you should also not be overly suspicious of everyone. Just be safe and keep valuables locked up and don’t open your door to strangers. Honestly, I find boondocking in the desert safer than leaving my rig somewhere in the city.
When it comes to boondocking in the desert, there are a few important elements you need to keep in mind; water, weather, and energy.
Water: Conservation should be a top priority when boondocking. It always surprises people just how fast a 50-gallon water tank disappears. To conserve water wash your dishes as little as possible and wipe them off first with paper towel before getting them wet. Take short navy showers and opt for sponge baths if you can. Join a chain gym where you can go take longer showers when needed. In fact, switching to paper plates and other paper products helps to minimize the need for washing and saves water, however you will have more garbage to deal with. Be sure to also turn off the water when brushing your teeth. You can also bring bottled water to use for smaller chores like this.
I have a 30 gallon water bladder that I carry with me, so I can fill up my water tank when it gets empty.
Weather: Deserts are too hot in the summer so schedule your trip between December and March. This way you avoid the ice and snow of most places but won’t roast during the day. The desert is full of RVs during these months. The desert, however, is not immune to winter storms so you should always be prepared. Severe wind storms can come out of nowhere in desert locations and gusts can cause limited visibility, keeping you inside all day long. Make sure your RV is sealed up to prevent any unwanted dust from coming in. Flash floods can also occur and they can sink your wheels in the mud, so beware of the weather and check ahead before you decide on a location.
Energy: Energy conservation is just as challenging as water conservation and you rely on your solar panels or generator completely. Make sure you have adequate fuel for your generator to keep you powered as needed. Be aware that the noise from generators can be disruptive the peace and quiet of the desert, so do not park too close to others. Make sure you also get quality equipment because cheaper is not always better. Also, investing in solar power installation can give you natural energy at lower costs and it’s quiet!!! Use a campfire to cook with to minimize using cooking appliances in the RV. If you don’t want to smell like wood fire, buy a propane gas fire pit. It won’t make your clothes smell bad, however, it will require propane bottles.
My limiting factor is usually groceries and water. I have to move my rig once every two weeks which is not bad at all. I have a generator and solar panels to keep me going. My friend Solar Dan helped me with my solar, he is an expert when it comes to setting up the perfect system.
Boondocking in the desert can be an adventure and gets you away from the busy city and the cold winters. Desert landscapes are full of beauty and tranquility and you can relax and explore while returning to the comforts of your RV every evening. With hills, secluded valleys, and all the wildlife you can imagine on your doorstep, boondocking is the best way to spend colder months. Just be sure to be prepared, plan ahead, and be safe when you are on the road.