Sand dunes dominate the landscape in the North Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area.
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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
Wildhorses at Sand Creek Barrel Springs Byway at sunset.  Photo by Laurie Sada Upper Wall Canyon creek.  Photo by B. Parrott Windmill at Sunset in Surprise Valley Sunset reflection on Upper Lake in Surprise Valley.
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Surprise Field Office

Desert Survival Tips


Portions of the Surprise Resource Area are extremely remote, with unimproved roads and no services.  Cell phones are not dependable in much of the area.  Mishaps can be avoided or made less serious with some pre-planning. The following is a list of preparations to be made before your departure, a basic list of supplies, and suggestions for what to do if you become stranded .

PLAN AHEAD AND PREPARE

Let someone at home know your travel plans and a time you will return. If you do get lost or break down, the people at home will know where to start looking. Also, let these people know if your plans change.  

Check local travel conditions before you depart and again at time of travel. 

Learn about the area, get accurate maps, and plan your agenda conservatively if you are traveling to an unfamiliar area. 

Bring gear appropriate to your activity, the expected range of conditions and the planned length of your stay. Many people have been fooled by changing conditions.

SURVIVAL TOOLS

Proper clothing for your activity (sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, or warmer clothing for changes in weather).

Good walking shoes (or boots) and walking stick.

Food (High energy - non-melting snacks).

Water; at least one gallon per person per day.  Purification tablets and high tech water filters are recommended also.

Know how to read maps, use a compass,and gain a knowledge of the area prior to trip (note landmarks as you travel). Carry a GPS unit with you, and know how to use it.

Small first aid kit. 

Waterproof matches (in a case or film canister).   

Camping and emergency tools (depending on transportation)-  

  -- knife
  -- road flares
  -- rope or cord/ duct or electrician's tape
  -- small tarp or ground cover   

Day pack, cargo carrier or saddle bag to carry the preceding gear.

Vehicle tools, high-lift jack, extra fuel, and spare parts (spark plugs, fan belts, hose clamps), depending on your vehicle.

IF LOST, STRANDED OR BROKEN DOWN

Stay with your vehicle or otherwise make yourself visible.

Stay put, unless you have a clear and specific destination.

Avoid walking during the heat of the day; morning and evening walking is better for conserving your body's moisture.

Seek shelter from the elements, but try to make yourself visible (like with smoke or a signal fire, or a bright colored tarp).