Oh the desert, not exactly what a person would think of when they’re starting to plan a camping trip. But the desert can provide a really beautiful and barren look at nature. We’ve scoured the land, searched high and low and GSI Outdoors is bringing you the hottest campgrounds in the U.S. -- literally!
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
This park is a hot one, reaching upwards of 107 degrees fahrenheit on average during the summer months, but can get as hot as 125 degrees! You may or may not want to save this one for the winter. Located about 100 miles northeast of San Diego, CA., Anza- Borrego is a huge desert park with many hiking trails and fields of wildflowers. Just be weary if you are going to attempt camping in the summer months- monsoon season is at its peak from July to September. However, if you are going to give this vast national park a look see this summer keep an eye out for roadrunners, golden eagles, kit foxes, mule deer and of course the bighorn sheep that the park is partially named for. With over 600,000 acres you’re sure to encounter some of the local critters in their natural habitat.
Black Rock Desert
Once an ancient lake covered what is now a 400 square mile silt playa known as Black Rock Desert, these days it’s a perfect destination for primitive camping. The closest thing to civilization is Gerlach, a small town just south of the barren basin with the most basic of supplies. The playa reaches into the 100’s during the summer months, but don’t be fooled it is a desert which means that the temperatures in the evening plummet. Once a year 50,000 people flock to the barren land for the infamous Burning Man Festival, but apart from that you’ll find the area pretty deserted year round. Set up camp near one of the many hot springs in the area and take in the natural wonders of the Nevada scenery.
Mesquite Springs, Death Valley National Park
Open to the public year-round, the campground is pretty accommodating with water, toilets, a dumping station, tables and fire pits. It probably comes as no surprise that this place gets hot in the summer, with Death Valley famous for being one of the hottest places on the planet. Historically temperatures in the summer can reach up to 120 degrees fahrenheit. You’ll find Mesquite Springs to be an off the beaten path kind of campsite with less congestion than some of the other sites. You’re still close to a ranger station and a few of the popular landmarks- Ubehebe Crater and Scotty’s Castle to name a couple.
Valley of Fire State Park
This is one of the oldest state parks in Nevada, covering an area of roughly 42,000 acres the park was dedicated in 1935. Located in the Mojave Desert the park was named for the brilliant red sandstone formations, when the sun strikes them at just the right angle they appear to be on fire. Since temperatures can reach 120 degrees during the summer months many of the animals are nocturnal, however, it’s always a special treat to see a big horned sheep roaming in the middle of the day. The nights are a real spectacle, the large rock formations cut off all artificial light coming from neighboring Las Vegas and making stargazing an experience all its own.
While desert camping in the summer isn’t always an ideal situation it can be a really beautiful one. Thankfully many of these places are open year round making winter camping an option if the gruelling heat isn’t your thing. As always stick with GSI Outdoors for all of your camping tips, tricks and outdoor cookware.