How to Cope with Dust when Camping in the Desert

By Rene Agredano – The Full Timing Nomad

Desert dry camping is one of those things that RVers either enjoy or despise. If you’re not sure you want to give it a whirl this snowbird season, these tips might help you decide.

Coping with Desert Dry Camping Dust
I’ve gone desert dry camping in many great spots throughout the Southwest. My husband and I enjoy it because desert dry camping is usually:

Affordable. It’s often free.

Beautiful. Colorful desert sunsets are unforgettable.

Calming. You leave city sounds and lights far behind.

But like life itself, there’s a big trade off to dry camping in Arizona, California and New Mexico, and the great winter snowbird destinations in the southwest: the dust! In fact, as I write this a major windstorm is rocking our fifth wheel. We’re camped near the Salton Sea and a dust cloud is coming toward us. Like it or not, a fine layer of grit will coat everything when this is over. To combat the inevitable filth, here’s how I’ll cope during and after the storm.

You can’t do anything about the weather but you can prepare for it. Also, keeping dust under control during a wind storm is one of the critical dry camping tips new RVers must know (as well as veterans). Here’s what I do when I know we’re in for a doozy.

Activate Anti-Dust Measures If you’ve ever traveled to the Southwest in March, you know that desert dry camping dust is a way of life during spring. To cope, I follow the simple preventive measures that The Burning Man Festival RVers recommend. First, cover your RV window air vents with painter’s tape. It’s not attractive but it`s effective for keeping out the dust.

Brace for What’s to Come The deafening roar of constant wind is so irritating. When you live in a RV, wind noise is loud and scary. Since there’s nothing we can do about it anyways, I just brace myself for the oncoming storm and try not to worry.

Begin Wiping Surfaces When the storm begins, a damp rag is all it takes to start removing dust. It’s a never-ending ordeal during heavy, ongoing winds but it keeps my mind off the storm.

Close Windows This is easy if you’re hooked up to shore power. You can always run your air conditioner if things get too hot. But desert dry camping when it’s warm is another matter because closing windows can make you sweat. To keep our home cool I darken the living area with heavy day/night RV shades.

Cover Floor Vents We have magnetic strips over the heater vents on our floors. They prevent pet fur from falling into the ducts, and also help to minimize dust in our living area.

Once during a bad desert dust storm while dry camping we were trapped inside for three days. On the fourth morning, the wind was still blowing enough to be a nuisance but not dangerous, so we moved to a less windy camp site.

Like it or not, desert dry camping dust is one of the trade-offs of a more freewheeling lifestyle. Whether you go sun seeking in winter and stay in one place all season, or drive on dusty roads in summer, your things will get dusty, dirty and beat-up. I’ve found that it’s best to just accept the inevitable and focus instead on all of the awesome adventures that await you on perfectly windless days.