Prepare for Passover in the Desert

Find all your logistics info here

Food & Water
What to Bring

General Overview

This section will answer many of your questions and help you prepare for your stay in the desert. This is a rustic wilderness camping environment. We will be building temporary communal structures and participants are responsible for their own personal camping gear.

Please review this section carefully so you can plan accordingly. The more prepared you are, the more fun you can have!

This is a wilderness environment in the Southern California desert, about 4 hours drive from Los Angeles and 8 hours from the Bay Area. There are limited facilities (i.e., no flush toilets or running water, and no permanent structures). We expect the occasional car or hiker to come through, but we will be relatively far from civilization.

Can’t find what you’re looking for? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Food & Water

We provide your water. You bring your lunch (except for Shabbat). We will be providing a hearty breakfast and dinner every day, as well as light and protein rich snacks throughout the day.

Kiddush (blessing over wine) and Hamotzi (blessing over bread or matzah) are traditionally said at the beginning of lunch on Shabbat. On Saturday morning, we will serve a cold breakfast. Early afternoon, we will serve brunch and invite everyone to share this special opportunity to bless our Shabbat meal as a community.

Back by popular demand, Wilderness Torah will be providing a water truck to meet all our communal cooking, dishwashing, and drinking needs. We recommend you bring 1–2 gallons to keep at your tent for personal use through the festival.
  • People tend to eat less in the desert heat and food goes to waste
  • Having an open lunchtime provides more spaciousness in the schedule
  • Preparing, eating, and cleaning up a full community lunch would take substantial time each day
  • There is a reduction in chef and food costs (which allows us to afford the water truck!)

Note: You will need to bring lunch items for Friday and Sunday only. We will be providing Shabbat lunch on Saturday.

  • Cheese (many hard cheeses are fine for a few days)
  • Jerky
  • Dried meats/fish
  • Fruit/veggies that don’t go bad quickly like oranges, apples, bananas, carrots
  • Nuts, seeds, and dried fruit; trail mix
  • A box of matzah if you really love it (we’ll have a bunch available)
  • Nut butters, tahini, honey, etc. to spread on the matzah
  • Energy bars, fruit strips, and/or granola type bars
  • Anything canned (don’t forget a can opener)
  • Coconut water for hydration

Remember, most people eat less in the desert heat, so you probably need less than you think. If you’d like to cook, feel free to bring a small stove, but we don’t feel it’s necessary. We also encourage to minimize food packaging in efforts to reduce non-food waste.

You must store your food in a container like a cooler and keep it by your tent. Refrigeration will not be available.
All food served by Wilderness Torah is kosher and kosher for Passover, except for a few small exceptions, which will be explicitly stated onsite. We will be serving kitniyot (beans, seeds, legumes) with a number of meals and there will always be kitniyot-free options as well. Learn more in our FAQs.

While we invite you to be in the Passover spirit, the food you bring does not need to be kosher as it will not be stored in the kitchen and you will use your own personal dishes.

We provide bins for recycling and compost. We do not provide communal garbage bins. Please take out what you bring in!


Our Passover journey takes place in the Panamint Valley of the Mojave Desert, near Death Valley National Park. The location is approximately 200 miles northeast of Los Angeles (about 4 hour drive) and 500 miles southeast of the San Francisco Bay Area (about 8 hour drive).

Getting There

The site is near the ghost town of Ballarat. If you are considering flying, the site is about four hours from Los Angeles’ Ontario airport (ONT).

To reduce our travel impact, we have set up a festival carpool signup sheet that you’ll have access to once registered. Please visit this page as soon as possible to register as a driver or passenger and request a ride.

Cars should be in good working order and capable of traversing dirt roads. The road between our site and Surprise Canyon, an oasis about 3 miles west of our site, is especially rough and rocky.

Driving Directions

Note: Ridgecrest is a good place to buy last minute stuff

  1. Take I-580 E toward Hayward go approx. 60 mi
  2. Merge onto I-5 S go 188 mi
  3. Take exit 257 for CA-58 toward Bakersfield go 0.3 mi
  4. Turn left at Blue Star Memorial Hwy/CA-58 E/Rosedale Hwy go 8.4 mi
  5. Turn right at CA-43 S/CA-58 E/Enos Ln go 1.0 mi
  6. Turn left at Blue Star Memorial Hwy/CA-58 E/Rosedale Hwy
  7. Continue to follow Rosedale Hwy go 12.1 mi
  8. Rosedale Hwy turns slightly left and becomes 24th St go 0.6 mi
  9. Continue onto 23rd St/CA-178 E, continue to follow CA-178 E go 85.4 mi
  10. Turn left at CA-14 N/CA-178 E/Midland Trail go 2.8 mi
  11. Slight right at CA-178 E/W Inyokern Rd go 12.2 mi
  12. Turn right at N China Lake Blvd (signs for State Route 178/Trona) go 2 mi
  13. Turn left at CA-178 E/E Ridgecrest Blvd go 16.7 mi
  14. Continue onto Trona Rd go 9.6 mi Continue onto Trona Wildrose Rd go 19.1 mi
  15. Turn right at Ballarat Rd go 3.6 mi
  1. Take I-5 N toward Sacramento
  2. Take the State Route 14 N exit toward Palmdale/Lancaster 0.6 mi
  3. Merge onto CA-14 N 69.0 mi
  4. Turn right at CA-14 N/Midland Trail Continue to follow CA-14 N 44.4 mi
  5. Slight right at CA-178 E/W Inyokern Rd 12.2 mi
  6. Turn right at N China Lake Blvd (signs for State Route 178/Trona) 2.0 mi
  7. Turn left at CA-178 E/E Ridgecrest Blvd Continue to follow CA-178 E 16.7 mi
  8. Continue onto Trona Rd 9.6 mi
  9. Continue onto Trona Wildrose Rd 19.1 mi
  10. Turn right at Ballarat Rd 3.6 mi
  1. Turn left at Indian Ranch Road. Drive 1.9 miles
  2. Turn right on to Surprise Canyon Road at the white rock marked with a red S7
  3. We will set up our camp 0.4 miles from Indian Ranch Road

If you are coming from another location, map your location to this intersection in Ballarat and follow the directions above from Ballarat.

Desert Hazards and Safety Precautions

Keep an eye out for yourself and others. The more prepared you are, the more fun you can have! Please review the following safety tips before coming to the desert:

  • Dehydration: The air is very dry. Even if you don’t feel hot, dry, or thirsty, it’s important to KEEP DRINKING WATER; at least 1 gallon per day. The hearth will also provide electrolyte powder for you to add to your water. Use it!
  • Hygiene: Hand-washing is very important! For the safety of everyone, please wash your hands EVERY time AFTER toileting, BEFORE entering the kitchen/food areas, and BEFORE every meal.
  • Uneven Terrain (slips, trips, and falls): Take a breath, stay aware, and slow down — that’s what we’re here for.
  • Sharp Cacti: There are not many cacti at our site, but it is the desert, so they are around. Be aware of many varieties and sizes.
  • Low Visibility at Night: Bring a flashlight and/or headlamp and extra batteries.
  • Weather: Bring warm layers and bedding (preferably not cotton, as it retains moisture). Tie down your gear so it doesn’t blow away in strong winds.
  • Remote Location: Plan to arrive in the daylight and bring everything you need with you.
  • Camping: Do not make camp in a dry creek bed. Flash floods develop quickly in the desert.

What to Bring

Below you’ll find a list of personal camping gear as well as communal and fun stuff to bring. We will camp relatively close to our cars, but be prepared to carry your things a short distance. It’s a good idea to label your gear with your name, since many people have similar looking items, and we always have a big lost and found pile at the end.

  • Sleeping bag (rated 20° or below)
  • Sleeping pad (Thermarest, Ensulite, or other)
  • Tent, ground cover, and rain fly
  • Stakes and hammer to stake down your tent
  • Warm Jacket
  • Fleece or Sweater (not cotton)
  • Thermal underwear (not cotton)
  • Warm socks (not cotton)
  • Hiking boots or shoes
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Short-sleeved shirts (at least one not cotton)
  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Long pants
  • Comfy, warm clothes to sleep in
  • Comfy, loose clothes to lounge in, including lightweight sun shirts
  • Festive attire for Shabbat if you wish (many participants wear white on Friday night as a way of honoring the ceremonial nature of this weekly holiday)
  • Rain pants
  • Rain jacket with hood
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun hat and/or lightweight scarf to protect from the sun
  • Underwear
  • Gloves (not cotton)
  • Winter hat and scarf
  • Bandana or kerchief
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm with SPF
  • Pocket knife or multi-tool
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, etc.
  • Flashlight and/or headlamp and extra batteries
  • Any medications you need
  • Small daypack
  • Plastic/paper bags to pack out your personal garbage
  • Alcohol based hand sanitizer
  • Personal first aid kit (band-aids, pain reliever, Neosporin, aloe vera, stuff for blisters, etc.)
  • Bathing suit and towel for river hike
  • Your own plate, bowl, mug, (wine cup, napkin), and utensils. Please label these or they will end up in the communal dish stash at the end!
  • Picnic lunch food for Friday and Sunday of the festival. We provide Shabbat lunch on Saturday. See here for details and suggestions
  • 1–2 gallons of water for personal use
  • Two 1-liter water bottles to fill up
  • Your wooden name tag from previous festivals if you have one
  • Something to read
  • Journal to write or draw in
  • Camera
  • Pillow
  • Camping chair or cushion to sit on
  • Yoga mat
  • Camping shower (no shower facilities are available onsite. Bring your own water.)
  • Slip on sandals for communal spaces
  • Your siddur (prayer book), if you use one
  • Musical instruments
  • Massage oils, hydrosols (herbal sprays), healing ointments, etc. for the Healing Hut
  • Songs, stories, and poems to share around the fire
  • Costumes! Fun, funky, festival attire for celebrations!
  • Hand towel
  • White celebratory clothing for shabbat
  • Decorations for the Tent of Meeting and other spaces — tapestries, rugs, pillows, pretty things that hang etc.
  • Food from your fruit tree or garden to share
  • Books for the Beit Midrash (study lounge) on various themes: Passover, Liberation, earth-based living, social justice, Jewish culture and religion, traditional Jewish texts, such as the Talmud, Mishna Torah, or siddurim (ideally with English). Please add your book contribution to this Google doc before bringing them to the desert. Make sure to write your name and number on the inside of your book.
  • Anything else you’d like to offer the group
Wet or damp cotton is associated with hypothermia — it continually wicks heat away from the body. Other fibers, such as wool and synthetic fleece insulate even if they’re damp or wet, and are therefore preferred for outdoor recreation and especially wilderness use. However, loose cotton clothes (old school desert attire) are great for lounging around camp during the day.