Suggestions for Camping in desert type areas

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by Fayborg, Jun 14, 2013.

  1. Fayborg

    Fayborg Adventurer

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    After trading PM 's with inmate Brajole. It was decided to post a request for suggestions and/or recommendations for tent camping in the desert. I am planning on a trip to Arizona, Utah and New Mexico.

    What precautions, tips or suggestions do you inmates have for tent camping and traveling though those areas? I would be staying on mainly paved roads and staying in campgrounds. Basically wondering and taking in the various sites of the southwest. This would be in maybe October, November time frame.

    I know it is important to stay hydrated, but what about scorpions, snakes, spiders. Is gas available during the day time or would you carry a gallon? Is water available in most campgrounds along paved roads?

    Hopefully this makes some sense. Any thought would be appreciated for this Midwest country boy. Thanks
    #1
  2. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

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    We camped in the states that you mentioned last year in late October/November. It does tend to get cold in the desert that time of year, so I'd get a sleeping bag that's good to below freezing. We stayed mainly in US National Parks (a bit pricey), State Parks and some National Forests. For the most part, the campsites in these areas are well groomed and the only dangerous wildlife you'll be seeing are animals scurrying out in front of your motorcycle in the dark.

    Amenities in those parks are all over the place. Some have hot running water showers, potable water and flush toilets, electric outlets to plug in your razor, etc. others have the bare necessities - a hole in the ground and a hand sanitizer dispenser. Best to be prepared for the worst case and bring your own TP, a large supply of potable water and lots of bug spray/bug shirt/net. Don't forget your reading light for the tent, helpful to find your way to aforementioned hole in the ground in the middle of the night.

    There's gas everywhere in those parks. Even in Death Valley National Park, you'll pay $6.00 a gallon, but there's gas there. I wouldn't worry about that. To save some money, bring your empty water jug to any restaurant (Subway, McDonalds) and they'll fill it with drinking water for you before you hit the campsite. Free!
    #2
  3. Flashmo

    Flashmo Whatever...

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    Dont set up your tent in a "wash" (a dry creek bed) storms many miles away can cause a flash flood without notice.

    Zip the two door zipers on your tent so that they meet somewhere atthe top to keep critters out...and dont ever leave the door unziped.

    Check your boots before putting them on.
    #3
  4. Okie Preacher

    Okie Preacher Been here awhile

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  5. nwpa

    nwpa Generally amused

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    I'm an east coaster, but I learned to roll up my sleeping bag when not in use due to the fine sand filtering through my tent mesh, filling the tent and bag with gritty sand.
    #5
  6. hugemoth

    hugemoth Long timer

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    Shake out anything that has been outside before bringing it into your tent to remove spiders, scorpions and other critters. Dor mice and kangaroo rats come out at night and will chew through nylon packs and such while looking for food. Also the ravens in Death Valley have mastered the art of opening zippers on panniers and tank bags to look for food. Rattlers will probably be hibernating at that time but be careful where you step and put your hands just in case.
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  7. Fayborg

    Fayborg Adventurer

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    Thanks everyone for the info about the parks, wash areas, mice and rats along with the fine sand blowing into the tent. We have chipmunks and racoons that are pretty crafty but the most part don't chew your stuff up.

    Okie Preacher thanks for info on the MSR dromedary bags. Are they pretty bomb proof. I am interested in getting a couple sizes. Do they come with a shower type hose/nozzle?
    #7
  8. Okie Preacher

    Okie Preacher Been here awhile

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    There is an optional lid/valve that will serve those purposes.
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  9. Fayborg

    Fayborg Adventurer

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    Thanks Okie for the info
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  10. Questor

    Questor More Undestructable

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    - Always carry water. The MSR bags are good for this. I carry about 8 liters when crossing desert areas.
    - Never pass a Gas Station. It's often 100+ miles between gas. Try to refill at 1/2 tank. My SE can carry 10 gallons of fuel.
    - Definitely check for critters in your boots, and under the tent. Little white scorpions blend in with the sand very well.
    - Wind can be a big problem so make sure your tent can handle it. 45 MPH gusts can happen.
    - There is LOTS of BLM and National Forest ares that are great for free camping.
    - If it's posted or fenced, its private property and respect that... seriously.
    - Be sure to enjoy the solitude and the night sky.

    Have a great trip and experiences.
    Q~
    #10
  11. travatron

    travatron Adventurer

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    I would say, for Nevada at least, "if it's posted AND fenced" there is a LOT of grazing area that is fenced and is either BLM land or thousand acre ranches where the fence is just there because its too expensive to put in a cattle guard.

    Certainly, if it's much more than a 2-wire hook-the-stick-onto-the-other-stick type fence, I'd be looking for postings (or signs its been posted before, lots of people are disrespectful and rip it down), but if you just turn around at every gate, you won't get anywhere out west.

    And, to reinforce: bring more water and fuel than you think you'll need,
    #11
  12. stargazer

    stargazer n00b

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    Be sure to bring and use LIP BALM.
    I found this out the hard way once on a trip to Utah. :baldy

    Luckily I found some fairly nearby in Mexican Hat. :D
    #12
  13. Fayborg

    Fayborg Adventurer

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    Okie or those that have the MSR Dromadary bags. Are they totally leak proof or is there some seepage or condesation after several days? I just picked up the 6 liter. Very sturdy bag. Just thought there was going to be a separate liner.
    #13
  14. Okie Preacher

    Okie Preacher Been here awhile

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    I have found it to be a tough piece of kit and have never had a problem with condensation or leaking. The biggest complaint re. the bags has always been the "plastic" taste. When I first got mine I ran a couple of Osprey cleaning tablets through it and have not had any problem.
    #14
  15. goathead

    goathead grunt and push

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    I have found that the sand blows though the bug netting so I have a tent that has zippered flaps on all bug netting. Hot in the day and cold at night so I use a flannel sheet with my sleeping bag, the flannel also doesn't feel so bad when a little sand gets in.
    #15
  16. Two Wheeled 'Tard

    Two Wheeled 'Tard Banned

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  17. Gitana

    Gitana A work in progress

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    Do not have the door of your tent facing into the wind. Be sure your tent has stout tent poles. It isn't always windy, but when it is, it's REALLY windy. Take a lot of wet wipes. The dust in these areas is very, very fine and will come right into a tent. Take a SPOT. Wear a lot of sunscreen. Bring really good sunglasses that will protect your eyes from UV rays, not just cheapo ones. Bring layers. It can get cold at night. The temperature swings are huge. Oh, and those bladders from the Starbucks coffee carriers? Those make great water and gas bags and hold up well. They fold up really small.
    #17
  18. justlookin

    justlookin Been here awhile

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    I really like these bags and carry a couple of 2 liter - they lash down tight and are very tough construction. Crashed on these things and never a problem, the only thing I found that I had to watch was the cap, they come with a flip up nozzle and I caught and opened it with my boot mounting the bike. Lost about half of the water before noticing, so I taped my nozzle and never had another issue. Probably could have mounted it with the cap down and never had a problem. Good luck with your adventure :norton
    #18
  19. Flashmo

    Flashmo Whatever...

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    Never had any leaks or condensation on my 10L bag.
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  20. Fayborg

    Fayborg Adventurer

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    Thanks everyone for responding. The bag does seem very durable. I think I'll be very happy with it.
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