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Monday, September 13, 2010

Winter desert snowbird tips list

Snowbird season is rapidly approaching, faster in some areas than in others. If you are planning to spend a few months boondocking in the deserts, it is not too early to start planning. You may find the following tips helpful as well as a partial check list before you set out.

• Consider installing solar panels. Most of the desert is wide open to the sky and you get a full day’s worth of charging—even though the days are shorter. Even a single panel will provide enough panel to run some of your systems, decreasing the amount of generator run time.

• Also consider a catalytic heater, which runs on propane, and since it has no fan draws no electricity. Your built in forced air heater will quickly drain your batteries on those crispy desert nights.

• Make up a desert day pack, for hiking, biking, or just sightseeing, consisting of sunscreen, a floppy brimmed sun hat, sunglasses, refillable water bottle, energy bars (i.e. Clif bars), stuff bag nylon windbreaker, and a small first aid kit.

• Stock your bookshelf with a selection of field guide books: deserts (such as Audubon’s Deserts , southwestern wildflowers, western or local regional bird book, desert wildlife (though the Audubon book has a wildlife, bird, and wildflower section), desert plants, and a regional or state tour book like Lonely Planet or Moon guides. Mike and Terri Church's Southwest Camping Destinations lists all the campgrounds and related information for the southwest. Ed Abbey’s Desert Solitaire is a good read also.

• Jerry jugs or inflatable water bladder for extra drinking water.

• If you plan on arriving while it is still hot or staying into April or beyond when it heats up again, buy windshield and side window sun screens to keep the inside of your RV cooler.

• Buy a dump cap and fittings that will enable you to connect a common garden so that you can drain your gray water off into a hole or onto a thirsty bush, preventing your gray tank from filling up and forcing you to drive off to dump.

• Sturdy sided walking shoes or hiking boots to protect your ankles from cactus thorns and rattlesnake strikes (I’m kidding about the snakes—they hibernate all winter, as do scorpions and Gila monsters).

• Leave your ear plugs at home or you won't hear the quiet--or the coyote serenade. And turn off your porch light if you want to see the spectacular Milky Way, as clear and sparkling as you ever imagined when seen through the clear, humidity free desert air.

If you have any money left over, you might also consider my ebook, Snowbird Guide to Boonndocking in the Southwestern Deserts


  1. You are not allowed to dump gray water in the BLM. You will be fined big time and thrown out. Gray water is full of chemicals and household grease. At least black is natural.

  2. What Hitchitch said. If you can't obey the rules in the desert, go to an RV park. Oh yeah, they won't let you water the flowers with gray water either.

  3. So glad to hear some people know the rules.'

    We are boondockes , and if people keep dumping there waste they will be no more BLM camping.