If you really need to go camping...

posted Nov 14, 2019, 6:48 AM by Paul Wagner
The backpacking season is pretty much over in the Sierra.  All we can do now is wait for spring and get in a few day hikes when the weather permits.  And get our gear ready for next year--maybe wash some of that gear that really needs it.  
Sunset from our little campsite in Indian Pass Canyon ©http://backpackthesierra.com

But if you need to go camping, you still have quite a few options.  We've spent a week or more in Death Valley or Joshua Tree National Parks each of the last few years, and they are great destinations for fall trips.  Death Valley has just announced that all of its campgrounds are finally open for the season--some are closed during the blistering heat of summer.  And the new Mojave Preserve is another destination that deserves some attention. 

We prefer Death Valley for backpacking.  The entire park is open to dispersed camping as long as you are at least two miles from a paved road, and you can explore to your heart's content.  Of course, you'll need to carry all of your water, so we generally stick to simple overnight trips, but that still lets you see lots of different parts of the park.  And we can just about guarantee that you won't see many other people.  We've never met other hikers while backpacking in Death Valley. 

Right now, while the Sierra is putting on its winter clothes, Death Valley is ranging from lows in the 50s to highs in the 80s.  That's perfect hiking weather.  And it is stunningly beautiful.

Bear in mind that those temperatures are down in the bottom of the valley.  On top of Telescope Peak, it will be freezing.  We've hiking up into Cottonwood Springs in the winter in Death Valley, and woke to find a bit of ice here and there around the camp....so plan accordingly.