Backpacking - Preparation
Water is an Issue!
There are no water sources in the backcountry. To insure you have enough water for drinking and cooking, please carry one gallon per person per day (water weighs approximately 8 lbs. per gallon). Water is obtainable at the Pine Springs Visitor Center, Pine Springs Campground, McKittrick Contact Station, or the Dog Canyon Ranger Station.
Fires, including charcoal fires, are not permitted anywhere in the park. Bring a backpacking stove if you plan to cook.
Consider bringing a sturdy, lightweight tent for protection against the weather elements, particularly wind and precipitation.
Sturdy hiking boots with good ankle support are highly recommended; trails are steep, rugged, and rocky. Hiking poles are a good addition too.
Be aware of the current weather forecast and bring/wear appropriate clothing.
To protect yourself from glaring desert sun (year-round) bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
Carry a first aid kit that includes tweezers for spines, band-aids and adhesive pads for blisters, compresses for severe cuts, and a triangle bandage which can be put to many uses.
Steep Trails, Difficult Climbs
Most backcountry trips begin with an elevation gain of over 2000 feet along exposed desert trails. This is strenuous; allow one hour per mile for ascent. Give yourself plenty of time for your hike; consider distance and elevation, your physical condition, the amount of weight you are carrying, the potential for sudden weather change, and the daylight hours remaining. Steep and rugged terrain, and lack of available water, can limit both the distance of your hike and the total number of days of your backcountry stay. Please plan your itinerary wisely. To assist with your planning, you can download a mileage chart and here a list of elevations in the park here.
Did You Know?
The long narrow leaves of the desert willow (Chilopsis linearis) gives it its common name, but it is not a true willow. It is beautiful when in bloom, and provides valuable nectar for hummingbirds, butterflies, bees and other insects.