Desert Camping in Ansell

In mid-December, Liz and I embarked on our first adventure in Ansell, our brand-new-to-us 95 Toyota Tacoma! We ventured to a friend’s amazing desert getaway just outside of Anza Borrego in Ocotillo Wells. Quick history of this location: Our friend purchased it from a guy who bought the plot of land in the 50’s and designed it to be a camper’s paradise so all his friends could come and camp on his property when he retired. Each “campsite” has electricity which is every camping tech-nerd’s dream. The main house is a dome structure. We aren’t sure why he chose such a unique style, but it is both interesting inside and out.

The dome house in the desert.

Since this was our first adventure in Ansell, we weren’t quite ambitious enough to take it off-roading. Instead, we used my uncle’s rebuilt 75 Jeep to conquer the trails of Ocotillo. Luckily there weren’t a lot of people out that weekend, so we had most of the off-roading trails to ourselves. While we love the luxury of Ansell, nothing compares to the feeling of going through a narrow, bumpy pass in a Jeep with an open roof.

Each day we adventured on different off-road trails. Everything from super narrow paths to wide open dried out flood plains. We know our dearest Ansell was the right purchase for us, but damn it would be epic to have a Jeep…. can’t sleep in one though!

Liz in Ansell the truck

Each evening we raced to a specific lookout point to catch the sunset. It was amazing to say the least.

Beautiful desert sunset in December


One of our favorite parts of camping is cooking outdoors. Below is an outline of our meal plan for the trip. In the future we will post actual recipes.

Breakfast: Deliciously greasy taqueria-style Mexican food on the road

Lunch: Banana PB+J (keeping it simple)

Dinner: (Easy fireside grub)

  • Fire-roasted veggie dogs
  • Mexican corn on the cob
  • Chips & salsa

Breakfast: (Classic breakfast burritos)

  • Scrambled eggs
  • Seasoned cast-iron grilled veggies and potatoes
  • Soy “chorizo”
  • Warmed tortillas

…and coffee (Liz ALWAYS needs her morning coffee)

Lessons learned

  1. The desert is not that far away, and not as daunting as we thought. We bought a bin to contain our fire for next time when we’re ready to brave the wild outside the cushy property of our new friend.
  2. The sunsets alone are worth the trip.
  3. Although Ansell is technically an off-roading vehicle, he’ll probably remain our cozy safe-haven on the home-base for now (rather than take us tumbling through the uncharted desert trails) and we’re okay with that.
  4. Liz needs to learn how to drive stick – for emergencies (and probably also just to be a functioning adult).
Joseph very proud of how everything fits into the truck.

We loved the desert camping and can’t wait to go back. Between the ease of camping on a friend’s property (but still being able to have privacy) to the breathtaking sunsets to the epics stars at night, it is a no-brainer for us to drive out there every few weeks!

Overview Video

Here is a video showcasing the highlights of our trip. This was filmed on a GoPro 5 and a DJI Spark drone.