Epic Winter Camping Spots in Southern California’s Deserts

From November through April, Southern California’s blazing hot deserts cool down and transform into pleasant, tranquil camping destinations with wide open desert views. Just last weekend I camped for three nights out in the Glamis sand dunes, and it was sunny and 70 degrees each day—and that was in January! Below are a few of my favorite RV camping destinations in Southern California’s deserts. None of these spots require a reservation, most of them are free to camp, and a couple require a permit for a small fee. Read on for more information about these remote, beautiful desert boondocking spots.

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Camping and Off-roading in Johnson Valley

If you like to cruise endless desert dirt roads, crawl up rocky trails, and blast through dry lake beds, then Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Area is a must do. Johnson Valley is located in Southern California’s high desert in Lucerne Valley off of Highway 247. Widely known as the home of King of the Hammers, an off-road Jeep race, Johnson Valley is full of dirt trails that meander amongst rocky mountains and wide open desert. I’ve camped at Johnson Valley several times to off-road and explore, and I’ve also watched Mojave Off Road Racing Enthusiasts (MORE) races zoom through the dusty trails. In fact, some of my friends used to race their class nine cars and class 1400 trucks and my husband and I would help out in the pits during their races. (And by helping, I would make racing videos; I’m not mechanically savvy!) Johnson Valley is a beautiful desert to camp and play in, so if you’re thinking about making the journey, here are a few tips and camping spots to check out.

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Ocotillo Wells: Best Campsites

I’ve been camping and off-roading in Ocotillo Wells for the past seven years, and I love it so much that I normally make the trek multiple times each season. Camping is FREE and entrance to the state park is FREE! The off-road trails are diverse and fun to explore— there are washes to blast through, technical trails to traverse, and landscapes that make you feel like you’re walking on Mars. There’s a ton of geological action at work in Ocotillo Wells, such as the active Gas Domes, the odd pumpkin-shaped formations in the Pumpkin Patch, and the oyster shells at Shell Reef. And for the Jeep enthusiasts out there, the scenic Tierra Del Sol trail is a must-do! Never been to Ocotillo Wells and unsure where to camp? Read on for my favorite camping spots. Read More

Glamis Camping 101

Summer winding down doesn’t have to signal the end of camping season, especially if you live in Southern California. Once the extreme heat lessens and we swing into autumn, desert season officially begins. One of my favorite desert camping destinations is Glamis, officially called the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area. It’s located in the southeast corner of California and borders Mexico, and it happens to be an offroading playground with giant, smooth sand dunes that stretch for miles. Keep reading for an explanation of the different camping areas at Glamis and what you need to know before heading out there.

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Our First Boondocking Trip in the Tiffin Allegro

This was it—the real shakedown trip for our 2008 Tiffin Allegro Open Road. We embarked on a three-night camping trip to Glamis for New Year’s, which meant dry camping or “boondocking.” No water, no electricity, and no paved roads whatsoever. Off we went with both kids, wondering if everything was going to work properly in the RV or if we would discover something new to fix. Read More

5 Steps to an Organized RV 

Up until this year, I never really thought much about organizing everything in our RV. When packing for a camping trip, I’d just carry out all our food and clothes and start cramming it into all the cabinets. Two kids and a ton of baby gear later, the cabinets and closets in our RV are stuffed and I can never seem to find anything without rifling through every nook and cranny. So after our last crowded camping trip, I pledged to completely organize everything inside our RV and make the little space we have more efficient, streamline packing, and avoid future clutter. Read More

Aerial Views of Tectonic Gorge Trail, Ocotillo Wells

I decided to test my DJI Phantom quadcopter on our recent camping trip out in Ocotillo Wells to see what kind of aerial footage I could capture. Here’s a short video of my footage, along with a few aerial photos. Read More