Camping isn’t only a summer time thing. In California, it can be enjoyed all year long – if you have the right gear to enjoy yourself. The deserts alone are prime destinations for your winter vacation OUT of DOORS. Star gazing is great & Back Road exploration is a great way to use that SUV.
Most meteor showers occur during the colder part of the year, so winter camping is a great way to experience the full sky & not miss any of these special shooting star shows. Desert locations well away from the city are the “best dark sky” choices. Less crowds, cooler temps and maybe more clouds.
KELBAKER ROAD is perfect place for stargazing, rock climbing, bon fires and free overnight camping.
We are not talking about making igloo camps in the highcountry. No snow shoes, nor cross country skiing chalets. Not even much snow camping. This page is just the basics on how to tolerate chilly temps in the milder climates for California’s dry destinations.
Make sure to check road conditions & check the closest town’s forecast before you head out on your road trip.
Bring enough clothing for a variety of temperatures. LAYERS, is the best advice for clothing. You may go from shorts to winter jacket all in 10 hours.
rain & wind:
California gets most all it’s precipitation from DECEMBER to APRIL, and a lot of winds along with each storm system. So be prepared for some weather.
Big wind event – can blow old trees down, across the road – trapping you on way back in there, so be prepared for a hike out. Super strong winds (40mph+) are also big factors in these outta control wildfires, as we’ve seen in recent years with the West Redding & Paradise fires.
camping in winter months:
Great desert locations & destinations:
- Hot Springs
- Ghost Towns
- Panamint Valley
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Death Valley National Park
- Mojave National Preserve
- Red Rock State Park
- Picacho Peak SRA
- GEAR – basics & beyond
- no getting lost – Maps & GPS
- Camp Clueless
- All about Firewood
- No toilets?
no problem, See Camp Potty
- SUV fun back roads!
A good zero degree sleeping bag is well worth the cash you will spend on it and it will make those chilly Sierra nights bearable even in the early season. Where fold-up cots will circulate the cold air underneath you, Inflatable air mattresses can be total luxury!
Don’t throw out that old sleeping bag. Make is useful! Try placing a blanket under your air mattress & another on top for cushion & warmth…and to protect you from the cold ground temperatures that can creep up.
- tent heaters
- zero degree bags
- good clothing
- lotsa firewood
Anza Borrego State Park allows you to camp along nearly any dirt back road, but requires that you use a metal fire ring to protect the soils & sandy washes from unsightly black ashes & coals.
A metal bucket like this can be found at your local hardware store. Old washing machine tubs work well too.
Firewood Dealers all over California can sell you a way better deal than those grocery store bundles.
Make sure to bring more firewood than you think you may need. It’s better to have more than enough than to be wishing you had more.
Tent Heaters are the latest great idea to keep you super toasty even inside your tent. Not intended for overnight use. Shut it off before you go to sleep.