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.
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.