When most people think of camping they think of forests, mountains, lakes, and other lush examples of nature. However, camping can also be done in the desert. Growing up in Arizona I can tell you that desert camping is a wonderful experience as long as you know what you're doing.
The first thing you want to always remember to do when camping in the desert is to let some friends or family know where you are going to be camping and how long you plan to be camping there. This is incredibly important. Unless you have survivalist training, it is much harder to stay alive if you get lost in the desert than if you were to get lost in a more lush setting. Safety must always be a top concern when camping in the desert. Make sure you bring plenty of water with you, always pack enough for one or two more days than you plan for your camping trip, you'll usually end up using more than you plan to. Another safety concern when desert camping is snakes and scorpions.
Always have a shovel handy as it is the easiest way to kill a snake. Usually snakes and scorpions won't be a problem, but you don't want to be caught unprepared. Both animals can cause significant harm and even death if they attack you. They are unlikely to mess with you unless you tread on their territory, so keep a look out when choosing a camping spot.
When choosing a camping site try to find a spot with some shade. If there isn't a good amount of shade then bring a canopy to provide shade. You also want to pick a place without too much sand. When the wind gets blowing it will coat everything. Even though it is the desert, there are still plenty of creeks and it is wise to find a spot near one when camping. Also be on the lookout for rocks. A spot that you may think is nice and smooth often turns out to be rocks covered in sand after you try to settle in for the night.
The desert presents a unique camping atmosphere. During the day it can get pretty hot, you'll obviously want to try and avoid camping in the summer months. However, it often shocks people how chilly it can get at night, so make sure you pack in layers. Even during the day it is a good idea to wear long sleeves and pants made from a very lightweight material. You want to make sure to protect your skin from the sun. Sunscreen is a must when camping in the desert and should be applied liberally. If you don't drink enough during the day then the sun can wear you out, so stay hydrated.
For those who are willing to face the hardships of camping in the desert there are plenty of rewards. While the desert may look barren at a glance, it holds many different treasures. There is beautiful plant and animal life to be seen. Remember that certain cacti are protected by law when camping in the desert. It is never a good idea to drink from one and if you mess with the wrong kind, like the saguaro, you could end up in legal trouble. There are also rare reptiles to be found while desert camping. Just as there is beauty in the lush camping spots in America, there is equal beauty to be found when desert camping for those who look for it.