Here’s a question from a reader of RVtravel.com about boondocking.
We recently passed through a small, intriguing desert town named Bouse on a two-lane backroad when driving from Wickenburg to Parker in southwestern Arizona. We were through in an instant, but after we arrived in Parker it bugged me that I hadn’t stopped to explore. Did we miss anything there? —Gus and Anne
Hi Gus and Anne,
Regardless of what you think you might have missed, Bouse is one of the unique small desert settlements in the Southwestern deserts. Don’t expect a lot of action in Bouse, which is a tranquil retirement community and maybe a few working folk commute to Parker, 27 miles to the west. It once described itself as the “home of 374 friendly people and one old grouch.” I’ve always wondered who the old grouch was. The population (probably including a lot of RVers in the snowbird parks) is now closer to 900.
As sleepy as it is, the town does have its attractions, such as the Old Brayton ghost town and museum, complete with reproductions of the desert’s ancient intaglios, and a herd of PVC pipe dinosaurs – or some such critters created from the mind of their builder.
One of the still-standing buildings, the old saloon, is claimed to be “the last old original saloon (built in 1892) still standing in Western Arizona.” This is strictly a high-tech, free, self-guided tour, requiring just the deposit of a dollar into the hole in the lid of the old mayonnaise jar at the entrance.
You can see the real intaglios (giant figures carved into the desert floor by early Native Americans) along the Plomosa Road scenic route between Bouse and Arizona 95 just north of Quartzsite.
Bouse was also home to Jim Jarvis, the famous Fire Walker. Jim was the real thing, strolling barefoot casually across a bed of red-hot coals without so much as an “ouch” or a quick step. “If you want a dramatic change in your life,” Jim often said, “walk fire.” Fine words. Jim passed away on June 10, 2016, at the age of 73. He claimed two world records for firewalking, the first for being one of eleven people to walk on the hottest fire ever recorded (1556 degrees) and the second for the longest firewalk on record (120 feet).
You will also notice several examples of WWII equipment about town. During WWII, Camp Bouse operated as General Patton’s secret Army base used for training men to handle a new tank specifically designed for night warfare.
If you don’t mind a little dust on your tow or toad (I wouldn’t recommend it for RVs), drive the 27 miles of sand and dirt road stretching out into the open desert to the northeast, where you will find the ghost town of Swansea, once a copper mining town of 500 hardy souls. Now deserted, you can wander about the old buildings and pick up pieces of copper slag.
You can stay practically right in town for a couple of days to explore at the no-hookup county campground or at one of the snowbird RV roosts. Or you can just pick a level spot near a cactus or mesquite tree just outside town.
You can learn more (at least a little bit) on the Bouse community website.
Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) gmail.com .