Welcome to RVQuartzsite.com! Whether you are wondering what Quartzsite is or why it is such a big deal in the RVer world or are just looking for some current info on this year’s festivities, this is the place for you. Let’s get started…
What is Quartzsite?
Quartzsite is a small town in the Arizona desert off I-10 that is surrounded by BLM land and far, far away from the nearest Wal-Mart. It is only about 22 miles from the southern California border and 100 miles from Mexico. While normally just a spot in the road you may miss if you blink, every year it starts filling up in October with winter RV snowbirds seeking to avoid snow shovels and heating bills. The biggest influx happens in January when the annual RV swap meet occurs. The swap meet takes over the entire town with hundreds of vendors selling anything from common house tools and cooking gear to specialized wares for RVers including RVs. The local population swells from as little as 3,000 to over 2 million. That’s a lot of people! Thankfully, there are plenty of RV parks in town or nearby and lots of BLM land where RVers can boondock without utilities free or nearly free. Eight major gem and mineral shows along with handicrafts vendors help to pack them in longer.
Why go to Quartzsite?
Most importantly, it is warm there all winter. They do get rain and wind storms which can sometimes be brutal in the desert but it is enticingly warm during the day there and you won’t see a snow shovel anywhere.
The camping is inexpensive. For $180 pass, you can camp there for 7 months on BLM land with no utilities. If you have a self-contained rig with solar panels on the roof, you’re set. Some of the Long-Term Visitor Areas offer sewer dump sites, water to fill your tank, and possibly portable toilets. Cell internet works very well in many places there and the local McDonald’s and truck stops have free WI-FI. If you only need a week or two there, there is a $40 pass for that. Camping in town is another story. The usual campground prices apply at RV parks there and in January prices can double.
The various RV, gem, craft, and car shows offer lots of entertainment and fun shopping for everyone. If you need anything for your new RV, are looking for parts, or looking for a new RV, that is the place to go for a good deal. Nearby is the balloon festival and pyrotechnics school (with a final show) in Havasu, Christmas parades in Quartzsite and Blythe CA , museums and shopping in or near Yuma AZ, sand dunes for 4-wheeling fun, Slab City for totally free no rules camping and touristing, Mexico for cheap eyeglasses, dental work, medications, and general shopping, fishing and boating on the Colorado river, and much more.
Many camping groups spend time in the area together every year so come on down for the commaraderie, potluck dinners, social hours, RC model flying, geocaching, jewelry making, desert riding, etc.
When is the “in-season”?
While January is the most popular time, many RVers come starting at the very end of September and stay through the end of March. By mid-April, the desert heat returns forcing the snowbirds to fly north for the summer.
Do you need reservations?
For BLM camping, no though your favorite spot may not be available during January. BLM land is first come-first served. For RV parks or motels, you can usually find a spot somewhere within 50 miles but during January your best bet is to reserve as early as possible prior to January. Many people come year after year and have standing reservations.
What to bring?
Lots of shorts and T-shirts to wear during the day and long pants and sleaved shirts as well as coats to wear at night. Desert temps can change fast so be prepared. Bring your favorite potluck dinner recipes and items to make them. Bring lots of soap and water to wash off the desert dust. Bring lots of groceries. Most grocery stores near Quartzsite are small Mom n Pop operations. The nearest major grocery store is about 25 miles away and it isn’t cheap. Bring lots of cash! They don’t like credit cards there and banks or ATMs are few. Don’t forget cash for whatever goodies you plan to buy and all the goodies you just couldn’t resist. Bring a good sense of humor for the campfire every night and to keep up your spirits in the Big Tent crowd.
Are you serious about no Wal-Mart?
Sort of. The nearest Wal-Mart is about 70 miles north in Parker, AZ. Many people do take a day trip once a month up there. There are also Wal-Marts farther south in Yuma, AZ.
That is enough to get you started. Check out our other pages for more information and our Pinterest pages for photos.