I'm looking to hike the Grand Canyon (found out that as a single I do have a good shot at securing the permit!), and now I'm trying to make sure I carry as little as possible on said hike. First thing I'm thinking about ditching is a tent.

I figure in May, its definitely not going to needed from a warmth perspective, and I was thinking about just taking a simple tarp to keep out any rain that might fall.

Here's my concern. I'd rather not wake up with any companions in my bag. I do believe if i woke up with a scorpion, snake, or spider in my bag, I would be a bit, well, freaked out.

If I sleep in the open in the desert, am I likely to have an unwelcome guest?

  • In the Grand Canyon I'd worry about rain more than animals. Afternoon thunderstorms are not uncommon.
    – xpda
    Mar 15, 2012 at 18:31

2 Answers 2


I would call it a reasonable risk to camp in the desert without a tent (but with a tarp available if it was to rain!). I've "cowboy" camped 40 or 50 nights in the desert and never had any company try to join me in my sleeping bag :) That being said, I would heartily recommend shaking out your clothes and shoes before putting them on in the morning.

In the desert setting, just be careful where you setup camp - anthills can make your campsite miserable, as can popping your inflatable mat on dried spiky things strewn about canyon floors.

  • 5
    +1 I've spent countless nights tentless in the GC with no problems. I would add: 1) Don't lay out your sleeping kit until you are ready to crawl in, 2) Secure you belongings, ring-tails are master thieves (and a nuisance in the corridor) 3) Have a bandanna handy to put over your face if the wind starts kicking the sand up. 4) Enjoy the best stars of your life.
    – Lost
    Mar 15, 2012 at 15:04
  • Couldn't have said it better... I also have rarely used a tent in the desert and never had problems (aside from once setting up on the above mentioned anthills).
    – Greg.Ley
    Mar 15, 2012 at 17:21
  • 2
    only extreme pesimist takes tarp with him to desert :-)
    – Tomas
    Jan 12, 2013 at 11:45

I can only confirm on the experience of Ryley. We've been sleeping in Morocco on a 3 week trip, just pad and sleeping bag (well, sometimes it was so hot that it was almost all open). I was afraid of snakes and scorpions too but I haven't seen one for the whole time there (apart from those presented at the market). So no problem actually! Sometimes I tried to cover holes on the ground with rocks, just to feel better :-) but I don't have any clue if that actually works. And also shaking my shoes before putting them on of course.

As always, the most dangerous animals are humans.

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