Tuesday, March 21, 2023


The Quartzsite phenomenon

By Bob Difley

Marine 69-71 on wikimedia commons

Ask an RVer about his opinion of Quartzsite, Ariz., and you will receive as many different opinions as the number of RVers you ask. However, one thing they may all agree on, is that every RVer should experience the phenomenon that is Quartzsite at least once.

Quartzsite, set in the middle of a wide-open desert, has plentiful camping and boondocking possibilities on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land and lures hundreds of thousands of snowbirds to the weather-friendly western Arizona desert in winter. Most RVers boondock around Quartzsite, so you could end up as crowded as in a hook-up campground. But the beauty of it is that the choice of where and how sociable you want to be is yours, since there is plenty of desert out there to get lost in.

One of your camping options includes gathering a group of friends and circling the wagons much like the early pioneers did on the Oregon Trail. Though the pioneers chose this method mainly to protect themselves from marauding Indians, today’s RVers seek social camaraderie instead, putting tables, chairs, and a communal campfire in the “hub” of the circled wagons.

Where to place your circle of wagons includes options like camping in close to town and having other nearby neighbors, or moving farther out and having your group area all to yourselves, a definite advantage if you are nudists or practice strange rituals or ceremonies.

Several hard compacted dirt roads capable of supporting even the largest and heaviest rigs lead off into the far reaches of the desert where campsites of hard “desert pavement,” resembling tile or cobblestone paving, are readily available.

If you intend on staying the season wandering the desert like nomads, camping in any or all of the seven BLM Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVA) in California or Arizona costs $180 for a season pass, September through April, or $40 for two weeks. You can move freely between LTVAs within the pass period.

The other option is to avoid the designated LTVAs and find your own boondocking campsite. You will not have to pay the LTVA fees, though the BLM limits your camping period to two weeks, then you have to move at least 25 miles from your previous location. You can take your chances on staying longer but you risk getting a $50 ticket (maybe more since the last time I was ticketed).

Like other RVers, you may find it a winter paradise, with random potlucks, lots of spontaneous live music jam sessions, a swap market Nirvana, Paul Winer (a nearly nude bookseller and local legend, ask anyone where he has set up shop – see photo at right), petroglyphs and other Native American sites, gem, mineral, and RV shows (the biggest events are in January), a bonanza of RV parts and accessories (including solar panels and wind turbines) at rock bottom prices, impromptu dealership sales lots eager to get you into your next rig, lots of friendly RVers to trade stories and locations with, and spectacular sunsets. On the other hand, the size, scope, and activity level may not be your cup of tea, but is still worth the adventure – at least once in a lifetime.

You can find Bob Difley’s RVing e-books on Amazon Kindle.



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5 years ago

Always dreamed of doing ‘Quartzsite’ so the winter of 2010-11 we played snowbirds before getting back to workamping. We were there for January and February staying at Patty’s RV park (a nice park with great wi-fi.). January was fantastic – so much energy in the town. During the RV show we would walk over (about a mile) to buy an ice cream cone there – biggest I ever had for the money. February was not as great – most people gone, the energy gone. Back to mostly a quiet little town.

We are glad we went and had the experience.

Bonnie Bowers
5 years ago

That’s on Facebook not the 4th

Bonnie Bowers
5 years ago

@a group on 4th called boondocking rv a person that had went to Quartzite is spreading news about the dirt and sand their carrying Parvo disease. He states his pet caught parvo from the dirt there. Even if you had vaccines done on time your pet will react to parvo like a bad flu. Fortunately it wont kill them if you see your vet out and administer antibiotics, nausea and stomach meds. I’m afraid to even go their now!!!

Bonnie Bowers
5 years ago
Reply to  Bonnie Bowers

All – I am copying and pasting a post from a friend of mine (Charlie Clevenger) who is currently in Quartzite.
Heads up if your planning to winter in Quartzite.
My pup has gotten Parvo.
He’s surviving, but it has been a long hard week for him. I was in the middle of getting the vaccinations. As it’s a three shot series.
It’s in the dirt here. And it’s everywhere. The vets all over Arizona are packed with Parvo cases.
Some vets are so backed up by it. They are not seeing any more new patients. Not even emergencies.
I have to drive him to Yuma 2 hours one way. To see a vet. And it’s expensive. I’m 1,200 bucks into him for meds and vets. And he’s only been there twice so far.
He hasn’t eaten in a week. And I’ve been sticking needles in him every 8 hours to keep him hydrated with IV fluids. If you have a young puppy make sure there are fully vaccinated before bringing them here please. If not you will most likely be issuing them a death sentence here.
My pup seems to be finally responding to the meds. He’s seems just a bit more himself this morning. Still won’t eat or drink though. But for first time In A week. Gave me a few kisses this morning.
I now spray bleach on my shoes every time I walk in my bus.
Just be careful and know it’s very prevalent here.
There is also another disease here called valley fever. Dogs cats and humans can get it. Everyone here called it the Quartzite crud. It’s a respiratory disease. I don’t know a lot about it. But it’s here that I know.
I’m only now staying here. Because I have a job and need to build my savings back up from paying vet bills. Then I’m out of here and not risking my pups life here any further. I won’t be returning here after this winter.

5 years ago
Reply to  Bonnie Bowers

The vaccine for parvo is within the distemper shot. Dogs build up a immunity and the distemper is not need annually when you dog had received it over time. Keep your pets vaccinated and it shouldn’t be a problem. This information came from my vet.

Tommy Molnar
5 years ago

We’ve gone down twice now – and absolutely love it. We’re the kind who like to be by ourselves, but when out walking, will drift on over and talk to other ‘solitude lovers’ who look like they want to chit chat. Both times we went, we were coming off the huge RV Rally in Phoenix. This year we’re just heading straight down to “The Q” (we’ve noticed that some folks refer to Quartzsite like that), and can’t wait. We WON’T however, be going down during the huge hoopla in January! There’s just too many of our closest friends down that at that time – ha.

5 years ago

Agreed! it’s an “at least once” must do. Very cool AND crazy!

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