True about the desert. Be prepared if you go out alone. I carry SPOT, winch and lots of extra water and never worry going out alone.I've owned 36 Jeeps since 1972 The Rubicons are by far the best for off road and the best for holding their value to sell or trade later.
Don't waste your money on the factor steel bumper options and save it for a quality after market bumper. The price isn't much different and the aftermarket ones are much stronger and in most cases more rugged looking.
As far as mods, you can fit 35's with no issues so why invest $3000 or more for a good lift kit, save it for bumpers and winches. Don't waste money on 37s or bigger tires, you''ll have to spend another few grand for gear upgrades and don't believe the ones who tell you otherwise.
Your stock Rubicon from what it sounds will serve you fine for the rare what if instances you get into, if you play by the cardinal rule of never bet the only Jeep on your trip, you'll live to come home. My rule is a minimum of 3 Jeeps and preferably 5 here in the desert. Screw up in the desert and you might die. I had an instance in Utah where it took 4 other Jeeps to pull me out of a dry lake. If I would have been by myself, I might never have been found.
Best gear you can get is a good Ham radio (not a cheap assed Chinese brand but a Kenwood or Yeasu) and either a SPOT or inReach to call for help if you do get in trouble.
Enjoy your Rubi !