Explore the Southwestern deserts – but don’t try to see everything


Explore the Southwestern deserts – but don't try to see everythingHere’s a question from a reader of RVtravel.com about boondocking. 

Hi Bob,
I didn’t realize how really HUGE the landmass of the Southwestern deserts is until I looked at some maps and checked the mileage between destinations. It’s mind-boggling to my wife and me, who are from Massachusetts, to realize that it is farther to drive from Yuma to Phoenix than clear across our entire state. We’re going to take a three-month trip to the desert – but where do we start? Help! —George and Bessie

Explore the Southwestern deserts – but don't try to see everything

Hi George and Bessie,
You’re right about the size of the West. And a lot of that is public land that y0u can boondock on. Wikipedia says, “The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is an agency within the United States Department of the Interior that administers more than 247.3 million acres of public lands in the United States which constitutes one-eighth of the landmass of the country.”

Most of the public land in the desert is managed by the BLM. It’s a lot of territory to cover – and don’t try to cover it all. I suggest this: Decide what are the most important locations of the West you would like to visit, for instance, National Parks and Monuments like the Grand Canyon, Arches, Zion, Bryce Canyon and Death Valley. Then decide what specific activities or places are of interest, such as Native American pueblos and cliff dwellings (Mesa Verde, Canyon de Chelle), Wild West historic sites (Tombstone), old mines, ghost towns, Arizona birding trails, and Wildflower viewing areas.

Do this for everything that sounds interesting. Enter these keywords into a Google search – include the state if you like – and you will get your ready-made list. Download Google Earth and locate each location you’ve listed on the digital map. The end result will present you with a bunch of dots that you can connect to make one or more routes.

I suggest you also look at some good websites for touring the Western Deserts like Desert USA. And two California locations worth the mileage to get there are Joshua Tree National Park and Anza Borrego Desert State Park (you can see bighorn sheep here).

Last but not least, the navigator should search while you are on the road between locations for what else you might want to see that is on your route. Try the Lonely Planet or Rough Guides also. But don’t be tightly bound by an itinerary: Be adventurous and go where your discoveries take you. Happy Travels.

Read more about boondocking at my BoondockBob’s Blog.
Check out my Kindle e-books about boondocking at Amazon.

Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) gmail.com .


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Do you know how much of the Fed land is actually accessible to those with motorhomes and fifth wheels? I’ve seen Google maps showing the boundaries of such lands but have to question if there are “roads” to get to any of it. We’re looking forward to finding out, but since you have a good handle on this area, maybe you know?