I took a trip to the Mojave Desert in Nevada. Spending a night under the desert sky is an experience that will take your breath away. I was planning to camp at Valley of Fire but the sites were all full. After some research, I found that parts of Nevada’s public land are open for camping. Nothing is provided except the real estate. Don’t let this deter you from witnessing the night sky absent of civilization. Dry camping provides more privacy and independence for those looking for a true camping experience while staying on a budget.

Photo by: AJ Brookly

Nine things you’ll need for dry camping in Nevada’s Mojave Desert

Table: A small 3-foot table is great to have for holding your essentials while prepping your meals.

Cooler: Some areas of the Mojave Desert have small towns nearby that will have some of the basics. However, this is not always the case. Have your cooler stocked with the required food and drinks before getting to the campsite.

5 gallon or larger water jug: You need to bring enough to keep yourself hydrated and your area clean. Even in the winter months, the desert starts heating up by the early morning, so drink water!

Tent & Sleeping bag: I recommend being prepared for weather fluctuations. The temperature ranged from 40 degrees in the morning to 80 degrees by afternoon. My zero degree sleeping bag provided comfort during the colder times of night while the tent protected me from sun exposure during the day.

Sunscreen/Lipbalm: The wide-open space of dry camping also means you have no protection from the sun. We used 90 SPF sunscreen and a lip balm with SPF protection to avoid burned lips.

Photo by: AJ Brookly

Insulated sleeping mat: The desert is in this region is rocky. I would recommend sleeping with something between you and the ground. I used a small, folding shovel to scrape away the gravel before setting up my tent. This helps protect the tent from being punctured by a sharp rock. It also provides protection between you and the rocks. The half-inch thick, self-inflating air mattress was more than enough support while the insulation kept the cold from creeping up through the ground.

Camping stove: Lastly, you will want a spot to cook. I found a rock fire pit left behind by past campers. This worked well with my tripod for cooking. However, the type of wood sold in that area burns very fast which gets expensive quickly. I recommend investing the $40 for a propane camping stove. It’s compact and takes only a few minutes to set up and start cooking.

Photo by: AJ Brookly