Traveling in the southwest desert regions of Arizona has its own set of challenges. This is short list of important things to know if you are in this region visiting or camping. It’s also a good idea to figure out the wild life, insects and plants in the area your staying. There are all kinds of creatures and insects that bite and are poisonous. So, it a good thing to get an understanding for them and what to do if something does happen.
1. Water – There isn’t much and every living thing is sucking it out of the air and every conceivable source. The sun is hot during the day and this compounds the evaporation and dryness. Even in the winter months carry lots of water. 2-3 gallons per day. More if you plan to do hiking or other activities. National parks have water filling stations and some rest areas have free water but mostly you will need to purchase it. That adds to the daily cost of your travels. I don’t want to support the bottled water industry yet some places that’s all you can get.
2. Temperature Drops – it can be almost 80° during the day in January and the temperature will drop up to 40° or more night. Some higher altitudes will be more dramatic. It gets cold at night. Blankets, sweaters, hats, gloves, scarves, wool socks, 4 season sleeping bag, etc…. are vital for camping out in the wilder areas.
3. Showers – Taking a shower is a luxury out in the more remote areas. Most camping sites are primitive. Facilities are primary composting toilets, no running water, fire pits, picnic table of some sort, no shade, the ground is pretty rough…. carrying hand sanitizer, taking sponge baths are how to keep up on basic hygiene. Some truck stops offer showers. They run in cost of $10 to $20 for a shower. Keep that in mind when calculating your water supply for the day.
4. The Sun- Being closer the the Equator means the sun is closer and hotter. Sun screen, and hat and wearing clothing to cover you skin is important. I’m one of those people who don’t burn yet, I know taking unnecessary risks it is not a good bet. Invest in a good sun hat with a wide brim and one you can soak with water. If you need to keep your head cool. Sunscreen is important. At least SPF 35…. or higher. Keeping hydrated is a priority if you are out in the sun for any length of time. Heat and sun stroke will kill you if you don’t plan right.
Misc…. A few other things that can make the experience more pleasant:
• a good camp stove. I found made by a company called Rhino. It’s sturdy, folds up and does a good job.
• refidgeration is tricky so packing food that can last is important. Also, minimizing waste is something to keep in mind too. Packaging takes up space and can be hard to get rid of. Some of my successful food choices have been: avocados that are green and let them ripen. Organic Tortillas, cabbage, carrots, apples, organic bullion, coconut milk powder for a dairy substitute, cucumbers, radishes, and oranges.
• Sun rises and sunsets are amazing in the desert. Light pollution is minimal so the stars are clear and abundant. Taking time to explore and take in all the diverse beauty is one way to ground and appreciate the uniqueness of the environment.