One week every January, the sleep little town of Quartzsite, Arizona lures RVers from all over the United States and Canada. But what draws RVers to make this pilgrimage?
Quartzsite is, literally, a one-horse town. And if you sneeze short, you may just miss it completely. If you need groceries, a pack of underwear or socks, and other necessities, you’ll have to drive to Blythe (22 miles west) or Parker (35 miles north).
There is no Walmart, a decent-sized grocery or even any big box stores. There’s no movie theater or even a gym. Heck, there’s not even a Camping World, though hundreds of thousands of RV nomads flock there.
There’s just a few sardine-packed RV parks, one RV dealership and a giant flea market full of people selling rocks and tons of junk.
However, Quartzsite does have some cool historical and cultural diversity. And, something to do with camels, the U.S. Army and some camel-whisperer dude named Hi Jolly. There are some pretty cool attractions that you won’t want to miss.
When we went to Quartzsite
RVs of every size start to migrate after even before New Years to begin their search for the ultimate boondocking spot on BLM land in the desert.
BLM rules dictate RVers can stay in one location for no more than 14 days at a time. After which, they must relocate to another area.
But there’s nothing saying they can’t stay in Quartzsite or the area for longer. Like us!
It’s a pilgrimage and gathering place…
Quartzsite is a well-known meeting place for RV nomads from all over the country. There’s tons of BLM land where RVers congregate and camp in the rocky desert. From New Years until even after the RV Tent Show and Rock and Gem Show, the desert is littered with every imaginable recreational vehicle out there. From vans and truck campers to big fifth wheels and motorhomes, it’s become the RV Mecca of the world.
Of course, you have to want to boondock to really enjoy it’s true ambiance. Boondocking on the BLM is where the real fun is. Because it certainly isn’t in the town itself; well except maybe Silly Al’s and the infamous bookstore where an elderly gentleman wears nothing.
LATE EDIT: Sadly, Mr. Paul Winer, known as the Naked Bookseller, passed away in May of 2019. He will be missed as he was a famous fixture of Quartzsite.
If you go to Quartzsite, you better have good walking shoes with sturdy soles. Let’s just say that your feet will hurt a little from walking on the rocky desert.
But for the OHVs and Jeep peeps, it’s game on because it’s the perfect playground for off-roading cliques.
How we ended up in Quartzsite
Seriously, we really hadn’t planned on going to Quartzsite. Heck, we didn’t even know what Quartzsite was all about. However, the outside thermometer forced us to this southern Arizona town because of their claims of awesome winter weather.
Shortly after paying an obnoxious amount of money at a posh RV park in Yuma, we found it wasn’t the place for us. We felt out of place with our adventure motorcycles on our Idaho Tote behind our fifth wheel. We were a good 20 years younger than the snowbirds and residents there. We were looking for an out.
After perusing some social media pages, we heard about a big New Years Eve party with this new tribe called Xscapers. So, we packed up our fifth wheel, filled our water, emptied our gray and black tanks and got the heck out of that poshy RV park. We headed to Dome Rock where this tribe was converging.
Since we’ve had unimaginable fun in the preceding year, we just knew we didn’t want to miss out on our first Xscapers New Years Eve Bash! We were off like a prom dress!
Welcome to Quartzsite!
Arriving the day before New Years’ Eve in 2018, it was a balmy 50 degrees during the day but that’s perfectly okay with us.
After being blessed with a beautiful sunset, night fell and a gazillion stars lit up the dark sky. But dang, no one warned us about how cold it gets in the desert at night. The mercury plummeted well into the low 30s!
On the bright side though, our beverages didn’t need a cooler. The huge celebratory campfire was super inviting. But the best part was our fellow Xscapers made us forget the cold with lots of love and laughter.
There’s also awesome potlucks and a rich array of colorful and interesting beverage concoctions. But, it’s the people that were the icing on the cake.
The few days following New Years, the party never ended. There were more potlucks, campfires, imbibing and friendships forged. We also were making plans for the Xscapers Annual Bash that was being held two weeks later in Lake Havasu.
More partying, playing and learning a few things
About half of us who attended the New Years Eve Bash hung out in Quartzsite for another week while waiting to caravan over to Lake Havasu City for the big Annual Bash.
We hung out with our new Xscapers friends, Matt and Diana of Adventurous Way. I took advantage of some video and blog training from Diana while waiting for the RV Big Tent Show.
Party’s over! Or is it?
The Quartzsite RV Big Tent Show started. So we went to see what the latest and greatest RV gadgets. And, since we are Battle Born Batteries Ambassadors, we helped market their products at their booth.
When our workdays were done, we continued the party for a few more days with Matt and Diana of Adventurous Way, Lance and Flo of Wheelin’ with the Wendes, and a few other RV couples we met during the New Years Eve Xscapers Bash.
After the big tent from the show came down, our 14-day dispersed camping limit was over. So, we met up again with Matt and Diana at Palm Canyon National Wildlife Refuge for more boondocking and to assist them with their solar panels installation.
It actually felt good to get some quiet downtime also and to give our livers a much needed break.
A few days later, Matt and Diana left us for their new adventure down the road. We stayed to enjoy the mountains and canyon in the distance wondering, “where are we going next?”
Interested in more about Quartzsite?
10 Fun Things to See and Do in Quartzsite, Arizona
The Great Camel Experiment: Quartzsite, Arizona
Our First Quartzsite RVing Experience
17 Replies to “Why RVers Go to Quartzsite, Arizona”
I like the description you gave about Quartzsite, it was right on the money. There is also a gem called Randy’s Burgers. From 4-6 each day, the burgers are $1. And they are hand made with lots of grilled onions. Also, in January each year, here at Quartzsite is the RTR, “Rubber Tramp Rendezvous”, event, sponsored by HOWA, Home on Wheels Alliance and Bob Wells, author of the book, “How to live in a van, or a car”, (I think that’s the name of book). And he also has a website called Cheap RV Living. We’re 10k strong out here in Quartzsite, boondocking for this 2020 event. But, I loved your story.
Thank you for taking the time to read it, Bessie. It truly is an incredibly unique place. Yes, we know about the RTR and all that goes on. This past January was our forth year. I think we’re going to skip a couple years though as we will be touring the east coast. We wish you safe travels out there!
Awesome post, thanks for sharing!
Thank you Devin! Safe travels!
My visit was full of desert hiking n Park Place RV Park. 1275 annually fee bout 109 a month for lot rental w water n sewer only other was electric… Very affordable. Able to visit yuma.. Havasue.palm springs.. See much of the area. Will return.
If you would rather spend the money to drive to big chain stores so be it. Quartzsite does have 2 grocery stores. The pizza place is Silly Al’s not Crazy Al’s. It’s people like you is the reason the people of Quartzsite HATE January and look forward to everyone leaving. No I am not a resident of Quartzsite but if you would talk to the people of Quartzsite you would find they are very nice people instead of have the obvious IM BETTER THAN THESE PEOPLE attitude. Your probably one of those ASSHOLES that’s have a big class A and cant drive worth a shit. Also there is BLM land that you can stay at for more than 14 days if you would do some research. Dont like Quartzsite stay away.
I love your candor!
I wanted to try out the RTR and the big Gem and Mineral show however I’m traveling alone and don’t know where to go and whether I would feel safe or not where can I get information on camping areas. I did have a few years of my life in the desert Las Vegas to be exact and never liked the intense Heat or the lack of trees and grass so I know the desert although it’s beautiful has its own pitfalls. Need some advice about when to travel there and how long to stay and what to take is there someone in your group that has a checklist thanks for any help!!
Been going to and through Quartzite for the past 16 years every week. January and February is like a big swap meat. A lot of neat vendors, selling junk and gems. Quartzites population goes from about 10-15 thousand off season to over a hundred thousand during January and February.
Actually the off season population is about 3500 and the in season population swells to several hundred thousand and this desert town handles things very efficiently
No Walmart, that is a hudge PLUS
We have been to quartzsite numerous times, and although the grocery stores are small compared to Walmart, we were able to sustain ourselves. There is an abundance of RV supplies available there, and a lot of history to take in… General Patton trained his tank divisions there, petroglyphs and Pictographs throughout the area and around Blythe and Colorado river area. We always boondock on BLM land. Dave and Diane
Hey Dave, thanks for reading! Have you checked out our piece about things to do in and around Quartzsite? https://alwaysonliberty.com/2020/01/quartzsite-az.html/
With so many RV parks closing, it’s hard to find a nice place. I love Quartzsite. I bought a 4 acre Mini Ranch off the exit 98.
Need to boondock let me know Water available $20 a night, monthly rates too.
Have a blessed winter
We love Quartzsite! We’ve been going there for the last three winters. It’s a fun place to spend the winter although we do travel around during the winter and stay in other places.
S & S and the RV Cats on YouTube
Thanks for responding! Quartzsite sure is a fun place to people watch and enjoy the ambiance of the desert. Don’t forget to check out our https://alwaysonliberty.com/2020/01/things-to-do-in-quartzsite-arizona.html/
My husband and I used to spend the entire winter in Quartzsite boondocking on BLM. Price is right! $180 from September 15th to April 15th. They have a dumpsite and a place to get water free even. We still going to Quartzsite every year for at 1 month. We love the area, and people. Vendors are quite pleasant and some are there most of the winter to.
Hi Linda, doesn’t the desert ROCK? We love it too! Meeting the people is probably our favorite too. Lots to do and see there. Check out our https://alwaysonliberty.com/2020/01/things-to-do-in-quartzsite-arizona.html/ blog in case you miss any of them. Enjoy your winter there. Be well and stay safe!