Desert Camping Deciphered: What to Bring and Where to Go
There are few things more enjoyable than taking a short drive to the desert, spending some disconnected time with family, and escaping the rat race of the city. Camping in the desert, whether in Las Vegas, Palm Springs, or Mojave, has surged in popularity – and for good reason! Camping in the desert is relaxing, affordable, and scenic.
But before you grab your tent and grill, let’s look at some of the best places to camp in the desert, as well as go through a checklist of everything you will need to make your desert camping trip one to remember.
Best Places to Camp Near Las Vegas:
The deserts surrounding Las Vegas are some of the most beautiful spots in the world, and fall is the perfect time to go camping because the weather has started to cool down, but it’s still warm enough to get outside. Below are some of our favorite camping spots near Vegas:
1. Lake Mead
Lake Mead National Recreation Area is about 45 minutes outside of Las Vegas and features a number of wonderful camping spots for the whole family. One thing that is great about Lake Mead is that although it’s in the middle of the desert, it has plenty of water activities like boat rentals, jet skiing, and more. Boulder Beach is one of the most popular campgrounds in Lake Mead and there you can rent a houseboat and enjoy the water at your leisure. This site is open year-round and takes reservations. Some sites around Lake Mead, though, are first come, first served!
2. Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire State Park is named appropriately as this park is home to beautiful red sandstone mountains and offers quite the view to visitors. Fall and spring are the best seasons to visit this awe-inspiring park because of their moderate temperatures (the park gets below freezing in the winter and over 100 degrees in the summer!). Atlatl Rock Campground and Arch Rock Campground are some of the best places to stay if you visit this desert campsite and come fully-equipped with barbeques, picnic tables, fire rings, and more. Expect an hour drive from downtown Las Vegas to Valley of Fire (and it’s totally worth it!).
3. Spring Mountains National Recreation Area
Just 45 minutes outside of Las Vegas is Spring Mountains, a campsite located within the Toiyabe National Forest. Spring Mountains can accommodate cars, tents, RVs and motorhomes and features beautiful biological diversity and rugged rocks that provide outstanding hiking.
4. Red Rock Canyon
For those looking for a quick weekend getaway from the city, look no further than Red Rock Canyon. A quick 20-minute drive will take you to some of the area’s best campsites that include amazing red rocks, vegetation, and more. The area has one main developed campground that is open from early September until May (the best season for camping in the desert). If you are making the trek to Red Rock Canyon, take note that unlike other campgrounds, this one doesn’t have electrical, water, or sewer hook-ups, and no showers! It’s just you and nature, camping au naturale! But it is a beautiful site regardless and perfect for the family that wants to rough it for a few nights.
What to Bring:
When camping in the desert, preparation is essential. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in the middle of nowhere without the right shoes or cooking equipment. Below is a comprehensive checklist of desert camping necessities:
-Water, water, water! Bottles, filters, purification systems, you name it! Water and the desert are best friends.
-Food (plan your meals ahead of time to make sure you have all the ingredients)
-Backpack and day pack
-Tent and all needed equipment (stakes, pools, weather-proof guard, etc.)
-Rope (just in case!)
-Sleeping bags and sleeping mats
-First-aid kit (remember to double-check it before you go!)
-Sunglasses and hat (the desert sun means business!)
-UV-protection clothing, like long-sleeved shirts
-Lip balm with UV-protection
-Jackets, both warm and waterproof
If this list has your head spinning (digging a hole for, um, what exactly?), desert camping might not be the vacation you are looking for. Instead, why not book at night at Tahiti Village? You don’t even have to bring your own toilet paper!