Mojave National Preserve (California) – This 1.6 million acre park between Los Angeles and Las Vegas contains sand dunes, mesas and volcanic cinder cones. Two developed campgrounds, Mid Hills and Hole-in-the-Wall, are open year-round, and there is an equestrian campground as well. Backcountry camping is allowed.
Arches and Canyonlands National Parks (Utah) – These two parks near Moab in southeastern Utah are known for red sandstone arches and other formations. The campground at Arches National Park, Devils Garden Campground, has 47 sites, as well as two group sites, and they fill up fast. Backcountry camping is available but limited.
Canyonlands National Park has two small campgrounds, both open year-round on a first-come, first-served basis. But water is available at only one, Squaw Flat.
Joshua Tree National Park (California) – Known for the signature twisted trees that gave the park north of Palm Springs its name, Joshua Tree also is home to fabulous rock climbing and has 10 mountains higher than 5,000 feet. The 800,000-acre park has nine established campgrounds and backcountry camping is allowed.
White Sands National Monument (New Mexico) – Giant dunes of white gypsum sand give this park its signature look, which is enhanced when there's a full moon reflecting off the sand. Only primitive backcountry camping is allowed in the park, but there are several public and private campgrounds for RV and car-camping nearby.
Anza Borrego State Park (California) – Located east of San Diego, this 600,000-acre park is known for its abundant wildflower blooms in the spring, a must-see for desert camping. It contains three campgrounds, one of which is a horse camp.
Find a desert campsite at ReserveAmerica.com.