Plan Ahead to Improve Your Camping Experience

7 Apps for RV and Tent Camping in Primitive Areas

- List of Apps - by Jim Bremner

RV and tent camping in primitive areas can be a great experience if you are prepared.

I remember the first time I rented an RV to go on an outing over a Thanksgiving holiday some years ago. The kids were out of school and we wanted to spend the long weekend in the desert. We decided to head out to the Coon Hollow Campground off the I-10, about 70 miles east of Palm Springs, CA to do some rock hunting. We’d look for geodes and gemstones and maybe even find some gold. We loaded up the 26 foot RV with supplies, filled the tanks with water, hooked up my CJ5 jeep to the trailer hitch, and off we went.

On board restrooms meant we didn’t have to make any stops, so we got to the campground just about six hours later. We also didn’t have a very good understanding of the limited capacity of the black water tanks; the warning light came on just as we arrived at the campground. The tank had to be dumped soon, the campground had no RV dump station, and there wasn’t much water left in the tanks.

RV Camping

There is no water supply out there. In primitive areas in the desert there are very few campgrounds with hookups for water and sewers. Our next trip was a return run up the seven-mile dirt road and back onto the I-10 in search of a dump station and water. We also needed gas. The holding tank was dumped near Blythe, CA and we provisioned up with gas and water, but it had taken a long time to find what I needed. Not the beginning I had envisioned for our vacation.

Finally back at camp, we began to make plans for the next day. On day two we headed over to the Hauser Geode Beds and looked for geodes. We set up a second camp there and ate lunch out of the cooler. Everything was cold and not very imaginative; we wished we had planned our meals a little better. We tried locating several rockhound spots and had trouble finding them. The sun was setting as we made it back to RV and everyone was covered with dust. No long showers were allowed.

For short trips the tent worked great.

The next day we took more tools with us. The CJ5 had limited space and there were four of us, so we had to tie some of our equipment to the back of the jeep. Things shook loose as we traveled over the bumpy dirt road. We had to stop frequently and retie the equipment.

checking rocks
Checking a rock for minerals

We found some ramshackle mines off the Bradshaw Trail, but weren’t sure what had been mined there. Some were probably decrepit gold mines – several old prospectors had lived in the area back in the 1930s. We also checked out several rockhound sites with the aid of the Gem Guide for Southern California.  We had fun, but our lack of RV experience and planning made the trip more difficult than it needed to be.

Found this in the Hauser Geode Bed area

That was about ten years ago; since then a lot has changed. Today there are more RVs on the road, many of which are rented to first time users like I was. More people are camping in primitive areas with tents and 4x4s. That means there will likely be more bad camping experiences such as we had back then. It doesn’t have to be that way though.



Here are seven apps for smartphones that will help you get the most out of your primitive camping trip, if you’re new to it or if you’re an experienced camper. I’ve included links to websites that have additional useful information for you.

7 Smartphone Apps to Improve Your Camping Experience
  1. Camping Recipes
    Enjoy the great outdoors with these camping and outdoor recipes. Check out these apps:
    Google Play ---------- iPhone
    The Camping Recipe app linked for iPhone has not been well reviewed recently. Unfortunately I couldn't find a lot of camping recipe apps for iPhone. You can plan ahead by researching outdoor recipes on Pinterest.

  2. Best Knotting Apps
    For any outdoor need
    Google Play --------------------iPhone

  3. Star Watching
    Whether you are using a high-powered telescope or just scanning the sky with your eyes, these apps will help you search for anything from the Moon to Jupiter
    Google Play ------------ iPhone

  4. Topo Maps
    View over 70,000 Natural Resources - Canada 1:50,000 and USGS 1:24,000 topographical maps on your iPhone or iPod touch.
    * Ideal for hiking and other backcountry activities.
    * Map downloads are FREE!
    Google Play ---------- iPhone

  5. Digger's Map - Natural Resources and Minerals Map iPhones only

For RVs

  1. RV Dump Station Locator

  2. RV Park Locator
    Google Play ---------- iPhone
Bonus app

First Aid App by American Red Cross
Available for iPhone and Android devices


RV and Camping



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