THE MUNK PACK GUIDE TO: DESERT CAMPING

Sunrise while camping in the desert

With winter nearly here and snow starting to blanket the country, sometimes it’s hard to get outside for extended periods of time and really take it all in. Cue desert camping. One of our favorite places to escape to the wilderness is the desert and one of our favorite times of the year to do it is late-fall and winter. But where to go? What to pack? And how is camping in the desert, in the winter, different from camping anywhere else? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.

WHERE TO GO

There are so many beautiful places to visit in the desert. Some of our favorite parks include Arches & Canyonlands National Parks, Grand Canyon National Park, White Sands National Monument, Zion National Park and Joshua Tree National Park. If you’re looking to go off the beaten path a bit more, buy a detailed map of the state you’re camping in and look for BLM land. Most often free to camp at, with dispersed, remote campsites, it’s a desert camping experience you’ll never forget. Be sure to read the map carefully and ask the local tourist information center on roads and conditions, as a lot of BLM land in the desert requires four-wheel drive for access or can have washed out roads after bad weather. A great place to try your hand at desert camping for the first time is in Moab, Utah! Pictured above, the BLM camping opportunities around Moab are endless. Find more info here.

WHAT TO PACK

Aside from your regular car camping essentials, camp stove, fuel, food, tent, sleeping bag, etc., there are some necessities needed for the desert, and specifically for wintertime. Fortunately, temperatures will likely not skyrocket to unbearable and dangerous numbers, but on the contrary, winter nights in the desert can get pretty chilly, so pack a warm sleeping bag and extra clothes, a beanie and gloves, just in case. Also, don’t forget to pack enough water and drink it often! Always bring your water with you on a hike or when you’re traveling in the car. You can never have enough extra water in the desert. A few other essentials: good, supportive hiking shoes or boots, a cap to shade you from the sun, sunscreen, a map of the area, extra cell battery, a GPS if you can get your hands on one, and extra snacks to hydrate you during the day. Low on camp gear? Rent some of your camping necessities from GetOutfitted. We love these a good camping checklist and here’s an interactive tool to make sure you don’t forget any of the camping must-haves at home.

WHAT TO DO

Don’t miss a desert sunrise. Get up early, pack some coffee or tea and breakfast, go somewhere with wide open views and just relax. You won’t be disappointed. The desert is one of the most spectacular places to hike, slowing down on the trail and taking in the details, the plants, the animals and the amazing cliffs and sandstone walls. Some of our favorite desert hikes across the country include the 3-mile Anza-Borrego Borrego Palm Canyon Trail in California, the 3-mile Moab BLM trail to Bowtie and Corona Arches and the 3-mile trail to Arches National Park’s more iconic landmark, Delicate Arch. Looking for something a bit more strenuous? Check out Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park for an heavy uphill, exposed 5-mile adventure. For a truly unique experience, take the South Kaibab Trail in Grand Canyon National Park to Skeleton Point, at night, for some dramatic stargazing. If you’re going out on a day hike, to a more remote area, always tell some one nearby where you’re headed. Amazing hikes aside, there’s so much to do while visiting the desert, from climbing and bouldering to mountain biking and horseback riding, and some excellent resources online. So pick your point on a map, do your research and get outside camping this winter.

Tag your desert outdoor adventures with #MunkPackMoment and we’ll be sure to share on @munkpack! Have a great trip!

Photography by Ali Vagnini

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