Quartzsite Lite (2022)

Quartzsite, Arizona, has long been Party Central for RVers in midwinter, and this year — 2022 — we took our truck camper there to check out the action.

A Winter RV Trip to Quartzsite Arizona in 2022

In many ways, the RV scene out in the desert surrounding Quartzsite was not too different than in years gone by.

There were crazy rigs rolling through the desert, sandwich signs advertising everything from at-your-campsite RV holding tank emptying services to ultra pure firewood for sale to libations of both the morning and afternoon kind.

Rockin' the Boondockin' sign in Quartzsite Arizona

Quartzsite is known as boondocking heaven

Quartzsite Arizona crazy car and camper

We always see unusual rigs roaming around the desert here

Quartzsite Arizona RV Proctologist sign for cleaning out RV waste holding tanks

Time to dump your holding tanks? These guys come to you!

Coffee Wagon in Quartzsite Arizona

A welcome sight in the morning

Adult Day Care Quartzsite Arizona

A popular spot in the afternoon!

Firewood for sale in Quartzsite Arizona

These folks sell the healthiest firewood on the planet!

In town, vendors were selling all kinds of things that would appeal to anyone living in a rolling home…and then some!

RV gear shops in Quartzsite Arizona

Lots of goodies for sale

But there were some startling differences in Quartzsite this year too.

As we drove through the desert boondocking areas we know and love north of town, there were a lot fewer rigs than in past winters, perhaps just 10% to 20% of what we saw a few years ago.

We used to see huge RV rallies in the desert too.

In the past, we would always tuck ourselves in between the massive Montana fifth wheel rally, where dozens of Montana owners circled the wagons around a huge campfire, and the Alpine Coach rally where we sometimes saw members enjoying catered meals along with movies displayed on a big outdoor screen by their communal campfire. Across the road, we used to wander around the Safari motorhome rally, admiring the unique paintings of wild animals that adorned the back of each rig.

These informal gatherings were always held in the same place in the desert, but this year, we didn’t see any of those rallies.

However, we did find a much bigger Arctic Fox rally than we ever remember seeing before, and we hooked up with our friends at the intimate Hitchhiker rally next door to the Arctic Foxes. With our new-to-us Arctic Fox camper and our many fond memories of living in a Hitchhiker fifth wheel, we felt right at home parking between the two groups!

Just like the rather deserted desert boondocking areas outside of town, many RV parks in town had a lot of vacancies.

Vacant RV park in Quartzsite Arizona

An RV park on the main drag in town was empty

There wasn’t just a lack of RVers, though. The number and types of vendors was diminished too. In the past, RV dealerships from Arizona and California set up temporary lots on all the major roads through Quartzsite, and they were filled to the brim with new and used RVs.

This year we could find only three RV dealerships selling RVs from temporary lots, two in town and a third inside the RV show grounds.

All over town, the temporary RV dealership lots that used to be overflowing with rigs now stood vacant, many with locked gates and a sign indicating which dealership operated that lot.

World Wide RV Vacant Lot Quartzsite Arizona 2

Full of RVs in other years, the World Wide RV lot was empty in 2022

Despite the lack of RVs for sale as well the big reduction in the number of RVers staying in Quartzsite this year, we’ve seen reports that RV manufacturing has been absolutely booming. According to the RV Industry Association (RVIA), in 2021, a total of 600,240 new units were shipped, a 19% increase over the previous record of 504,599 units set back in 2017. After our visit to Quartzsite, we learned that RV shipments in January 2022 set a record too.

Apparently, despite that enormous increase in supply, the RV manufacturers aren’t keeping pace with demand.

Last summer, we visited an RV dealership selling Momentum toy haulers and were told they were not selling any units off the lot because they weren’t sure they could get replacement units to put on display for future customers. All new Momentum sales at that dealership were by pre-order only.

The same has been true with diesel truck dealerships. Most dealerships in our area have no diesel truck inventory on display and are selling new trucks by pre-order only. If a rare new one that isn’t already spoken for arrives at their lot, they price it at $5,000 over MSRP.

Of course, things change in the blink of an eye and the RV industry has always been cyclical. At the time we made this trip to Quartzsite in late January, we were paying around $3.69 a gallon for diesel fuel. Now, in late March, it is $4.99 a gallon. Although lots of people still want to get out and travel after having to stay home during the pandemic, this jump in fuel prices might discourage buyers from getting a new RV.

La Mesa RV Vacant Lot Quartzsite Arizona

It was a shock to see the La Mesa RV lot completely empty. We remember fun free pancake breakfasts in their lot in other years

Whatever the causes and ramifications of the small turnout in Quartzsite in 2022 might be, we started calling this year’s edition “Quartzsite Lite.”

There were certain advantages to attending Quartzsite Lite, however. For one thing, parking was a cinch. Unlike past years where traffic was heavy and parking was difficult, traffic this year was minimal and we were able to park with ease right next to the show grounds.

As always, the Quartzsite Gem Show was in full swing at the same time as the RV show, and we admired the many fabulous and enormous crystals and gem stones that were on display.

Amethysts on display at the Quartzsite Arizona Gem Show

There was a big table full of pretty amethyst crystals at the Gem Show

Herkimer Diamonds booth at Quartzsite Arizona Gem Show

Herkimer diamonds! There’s a great mine in New York where rockhounds hunt for these stones

Inside the RV show we saw many familiar vendors, including the homemade ice cream vendor. A little further on, we saw a booth selling New England lobster quesadillas!

Homemade ice cream booth at Quartzsite Arizona RV Show

Homemade ice cream – yum!

Lobster Quesadilla booth at Quartzsite Arizona RV trade show

Flown to the Sonoran Desert from the Atlantic Ocean.

Under the Big Tent we stopped by the Escapees booth to say hello and then chatted with some folks in a nearby booth promoting UTV trails in Utah. A salesman representing an RV resort in a northern state told me they came to Quartzsite looking for workcampers for the upcoming summer. He was thrilled that they filled all their positions by the third day of the RV Show! So, even with a lot fewer attendees and vendors, the companies looking to hire RVers and the RVers looking for work were still happily finding each other.

One unusual surprise was that several vendors advertised they were accepting payment in crypto currency.

Quartzsite Arizona Crypto currency accepted

Crypto currency has made it to Quartzsite!

Quartzsite Arizona Crypto Accepted

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One thing that we always love at the Quartzsite RV show is all the dogs being wheeled about in strollers, and there were quite a few!

Quartzsite Arizona Puppy in a stroller

Quartzsite is a magnet for pups in strollers!

Quartzsite Arizona Dogs in a stroller

Pampered pooch

Quartzsite Arizona Dogs in a stroller

Two-in-one!

The dogs that walk the show on their own four paws have to contend with a sea of knees and ankles, but Buddy was a trooper. While we and everyone else had all eyes on the vendors and their wares, the dogs had all eyes on each other!

Quartzsite Arizona RV trade show in the Big Tent

There were plenty of people, but we all had room to breathe as we shopped.

Fortunately, just like the light traffic in the streets, there was light traffic inside the Big Tent too. Unlike past years, we didn’t have to shuffle cheek-by-jowel at a snail’s pace and instead could walk easily up and down the aisles.

Even though the predominant hair colors you see on the people who hang around Quartzsite are white and gray (with a few dying their hair shades of blonde and brown), there was a very hip poodle in attendance whose fashion sense leaned towards much more showy colors. She sported a bright pink tail!

Poodle with a pink tail

The Quartzsite crowd prefers gray hair over pink, but this poodle dared to be different!

Each year it seems that many vendors at Quartzsite gravitate to one new product or another. In past years LED lights were all the rage. This year it was lithium batteries. It seemed there was a lithium battery vendor on every corner.

Quartzsite Arizona Lithium battery sales booth

A variety of lithium battery brands seemed to be everywhere.

We always get smitten by some product or another, and this year we fell for two products.

First was the Mr. Sticky pet fur roller (available here). It is a roller with a long handle that you dip in water to activate its stickiness. Once it is wet, you roll it on any fabric or carpet that has pet fur on it and magically the roller pulls all the fur off. We were fascinated, and even though the vendor insisted we had to buy all three styles of roller and not just one, we’ve ended up loving them all and we use them on our fluffy comforter all the time (it is one of Buddy’s favorite napping places).

Quartzsite Arizona Mr. Sticky pet fur cleaning roller

These rollers work GREAT! Her demo was good but the proof was in our fur filled comforter at home.

The other product that caught our eye was the Siberia Spirit wool socks. The vendor was from Russia and the socks were fluffy, soft and warm. The overnight temps at Quartzsite were in the low 40s during our stay and these socks were just the thing to keep our tootsies warm.

I bought a pair of goat hair socks and Mark held one out for Buddy to smell. He was enchanted. He rubbed his face all over the sock, sniffing it and brushing his snout and ears on it over and over!

Siberia Spirit socks booth at Quartzsite Arizona RV show

Siberia Spirit – warm wool socks sold with a Russian accent!

Puppy rubs his face on goat hair socks

Buddy absolutely loved the pair made of goat’s wool that had fox faces like his on them.

For the past few years RVing has been making a big splash in the media, and sure enough, there was a fenced off Media Tent right outside the show grounds. They were filming The RVers / Aviators.

A huge poster warned that if you entered the fenced area you irrevocably granted the Producer permission to film and record you and to use that material for commercial purposes indefinitely!

Gosh, and here we thought Quartzsite was just a bunch of RVers casually living it up in the desert.

Public Filming Notice in Quartzsite Arizona

If you don’t want your likeness used commercially, steer clear!

Getting back out into the desert ourselves, we headed out with a friend on a 4×4 loop trail up on Plomosa Road. This was the first time we’d ever brought our RZR to Quartzsite and what a wonderful change of pace it was.

RZR ride in Quartzsite Arizona

The 4×4 trails in the area are wonderful.

Quartzsite Arizona On the trail with a RZR and ATV

We had a great ride with our friend Roy from the Hitchhiker rally

A saguaro cactus in the desert near Quartzsite Arizona

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There are a ton of trails in the desert, some well worn and others seldom used. We had to consult the map to stay on track!

Quartzsite Arizona ATV trail

Some trails are small and others are very large and well traveled.

Quartzsite Arizona checking the map on an ATV ride

The guys had to check the map to see where the heck we were!

In one area there were plush sand dunes. The wind made wonderful patterns in the sand and Buddy loved romping around in it. We also found open mines all over the place. Lots of these old mines have been fenced off by the Bureau of Land Management so people don’t accidentally fall in, but this one was wide open.

Quartzsite Arizona sand dunes

The sand had beach-like wind patterns.

Open mine in the desert in Quartzsite Arizona

There were many open mine shafts. Mark dropped a rock into this one and it took a long time to land!

RZR UTV trail in Quartzsite Arizona

We saw a few other UTVs and ATVs on the trails and even crossed paths with a group from Salome.

One of the best things in Quartzsite is the vivid sunsets that fill the wide open sky, and we were lucky to catch a really vivid one.

Quartzsite Arizona sunset

A classic Arizona sunset!

We had a lot of fun going to Quartzsite this year, even though many things were dramatically different from past years. But that’s the unpredictable way of life.

Hopefully, when we drop by Quartzsite in the future, we’ll no longer call it Quartzsite Lite because it will be Quartzsite Full Strength once again!

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20 thoughts on “Quartzsite Lite (2022)

  1. Hey Mark, Em and Buddy! So glad to see you back out on the road for a second. Interesting all the factors that went into making Quartzsite so Lite this year. Love the RZR! Looking forward to your next post. Namaste’. <3 🙂

  2. Thanks for the post….love your writing and photos. We’ve been a follower for years! So so happy about Buddy. ❤️ I’ve viewed several Quartzite utubers, no one mentioned the lack of crowds…glad you did, wish we went this year. Hopefully we’ll go soon. We winter in Fl so it’s a tough call to pack up and head west when it’s nice here 🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️

    • I’m not sure I would leave Florida to drive all those miles either! We loved our visits there. The lack of crowds in Q was astonishing, and old-timers (I think we’re approaching their ranks!) definitely noticed and talked about it. We even met a fellow two months afterwards who has been a vendor at the Gem Show for over a decade, and he said he’s not sure he’ll return because it was such a dismal turnout. A lot of times, in my experience, the things we watch and read about RVing online don’t really square with what we’ve experienced ourselves…that’s one of the many reasons we can’t wait to get back out there this summer and see what’s actually going on with our own eyes!

  3. Thanks for sharing your trip to Q. We are HH owners and usually travel to Q. Not this year, so we appreciate your pictures and story. Stay safe.
    Papa

  4. What a charm to follow your 2022 trip to “Quartzite-Lite”….love your creative “moniker”. RLT has been sorely missed…. Of course I have followed your RLT Quartzite treks for years, so WELCOME BACK to “active status”….Emily, you have lost none of your descriptive skills…and the wealth of photos is a crowning glory. Love seeing Buddy in the midst of the fray. I will share this post with my friends in Paris, all of whom enjoy some level of English proficiency – the photos alone will fascinate them…nothing like that gorgeous Arizona sunset !!

    Love, Mom

    • Thanks, Mom! I love telling our little stories and Mark always laughs when I get immersed in typing one up. “You must be writing,” he says. “You’ve got that smile on your face…!” We both miss taking photos of new things all the time, and it was wonderful to carry our cameras around all day, snapping away. They call it “street photography” and we love it.

      Mark was very funny this morning, “Oh, I see there’s a new post from RLT. I can’t wait to read it… Those people have so much fun!” A few minutes later, “Hey, I didn’t even see that coffee wagon — where was it?” And that’s the joy of taking pics and living this life together because we often see and experience very different things!

      Thank you for sharing this with your Parisian friends. Quartzsite is a classic bit of Americana that isn’t widely known outside of North American RVing circles. It’s not even well known in Phoenix!

  5. Oh man… we were parked in that Arctic Fox group and would have been thrilled to see you guys. Bummed we didn’t notice you. We had one mean game of Mexican Train going for two days. That was a blast. We also missed looking at the RV show as we had toyed with the idea of downsizing our AF 35ft. 5th wheel. After seeing what we saw in the Q and talking to folks about changing RVs we decided to keep what we have and update our AGM batteries to lithium and go with the flow. Sadly our Andersen hitch collapsed on I-10 but we all survived just fine. We even added a puppy, Penny the Boston Terrier. It was a weird winter sojourn, now just a tad bit more disappointing to know you were parked nearby. You two have been a huge inspiration for us in our former full timing RV life and for me as a photographer. Thank you both for what you have done with RLT and the RVing community! If you ever come back up to the PNW look us up we have a ton of room for visitors!!

    • Oh my goodness!! That is amazing!! It would have been so much fun to meet you, and Buddy would have loved to meet Penny too! Next time. All the Arctic Foxes there were beautiful rigs and it was really cool to see them all together. I’m sure it helped a lot with your decision making to have lots of AF owners around you that show you the pros and cons they’ve experienced with their rigs. We were astonished at the beautiful condition of the Hitchhikers too. They are all 10 years old or more now, and they were all in beautiful condition. I’m sorry to hear about the Andersen hitch. Yikes! What a relief that you were okay. Thank you for the wonderful words of encouragement about our blog. It is so heartwarming to know we inspired you. I’m not sure when we’ll get to the PNW, but it sure would be nice to connect in person.

  6. I think the millennials are buying up the RVs and they don’t necessarily have solar yet. They need to have WIFI to work and if they don’t have solar they can’t stay at Quartzsite and work too.

    • Maybe so. But the people we’ve seen walking around the dealerships are all older folks, so who knows! We also heard the lack of people in Q was due to Canadians being restricted and not being able to bring their rigs south. Yet a week prior to going, we spent time with a Canadian who now lives aboard our boat Groovy in Vancouver, and he drove down… He was shopping for a Class C in Arizona! A lot of it may have been that people heard what Q was like in 2021 (mask requirements and limits on the number of people allowed in the Big Tent at one time plus a big reduction in the number of vendors), and they figured that with the various mandates North Americans were still facing at large in January, 2022, they didn’t want to bother going this year. Maybe it was all of the above!

    • We live in Quartzsite. We could have touched base and said hi. FYI, “locals” tend not to attend the Big Tent RV show. But there were a lot of visitors. We here LaMesa RV may be having bigger issues. That’s why their lot here was empty. As for the few empty RV parks, that’s because of failed management and/or owners. They just weren’t open, even though the traffic was there. Even so, Covid has had an effect.

      • Hey Ed, I wish we had touched base and said hi! I’m so glad to hear your great news that some of the problems at the RV dealers and RV parks were just plain old ordinary mismanagement. It’s always hard to know what’s really going on when you’re just an occasional visitor to a place. However, the lack of people camping in the desert, lack of impromptu rallies, lack of traffic on the roads in town and the small number of people in and around the RV and Gem shows compared to all the prior years we visited were startling, although not totally unexpected given what the world has been through in the last two years.

  7. What an awesome time you had even with the smaller attendance. Sometimes that’s better! Sorry I missed the Russian socks! Glad Buddy got a snoot full. Those sticky rollers are the best!!

    • In many ways it was definitely better, Annie. We could spend more time with the vendors and the desert was relatively peaceful. Discovering the trails on the outskirts of the camping area was a blast! I’m not surprised you already knew about the sticky rollers — you’re always on top of all the best ways to make an RV a comfy home!

  8. Such a delight to see you guys on the road and read about your Quartizsite visit! We enjoyed your most recent Escapees magazine article, too! Jeanne and I, and Hershey Pup, did our first time Quartzsite this year, too! We actually boondocked in the desert at Tyson Wash BLM LTVA and had an amazing experience! What a unique slice of American culture that area is! It was interesting, too, to get there in December, experience the calmness of pre-January Quartzsite, and then watch things grow as more and more RVers descended upon the area up to the RV show time. Jeanne and I have been on the road full-time now nearly two years and you both were some of our earliest “mentors” during the four years that we planned our “Big Leap” of faith into fulltime RV’ing. Love you guys and Buddy!!!! Enjoy your travels this year!

    • Wow! What a heartwarming comment, Erik. It feels really good to know that we helped you with your early planning and especially that you took the enormous leap of faith to go full-time and that you’ve been enjoying life on the road for the past two very unusual years. We’ve never stayed at the LTVA spots but it looks like a great way to go. Lots of people go year after year. I hope you continue to have wonderful adventures in your new lifestyle, and thanks again so very much for putting these big smiles on our faces this afternoon!

  9. Hey Emily….we were in Q for the RV Show again this year too. We came for the 2nd half of the week & stayed in the area at the base of Dome Rock. We noticed all the same things you did. The lack of people did make it easier to check out the RV’s on display however! We spent several days riding our mountain bikes on the ATV trails south of town & had a blast. We love riding around the town as well. It’s always entertaining. Sorry our paths did not cross this year…..maybe next year!

    • How cool you were there too, Tara. We loved using the RZR this year because we could get further on the trails than with our mountain bikes. Up by Plomosa Road the trail we took (and that we’ve ridden our bikes on in the past) goes through some sand dunes that are impossible with a bicycle, so we used to just turn around. This year we plowed through and found all kinds of things on the other side of the dunes. We’ll have to check out Dome Rock and the trails down that way sometime. Hopefully more people will come in to Q the future and hopefully we will cross paths with you next time. We weren’t 100% sure we were going until the day we left, and we didn’t have internet access once we got there (kind of a blessing in a way!).

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