What’s It Like to RV in Quartzsite AZ? Anything Goes!

January 2016 – The desert RV scene around Quartzsite, Arizona, is a wild place in January, and has been compared to Burning Man in the Nevada desert and even 1969’s Woodstock in upstate New York.

Quartzsite Desert RV Boondockging AZ

The sun winks at the RVs boondocked in Quartzsite in the early morning light

But the crazy Quartzsite RV insanity lasts longer, and more people go, and you don’t have to buy a ticket to be a part of it all. Plus — the crowd is decidedly gray haired.

Even though there may be some free love going on in a few rigs in Quartzsite, I can’t say I’ve seen Jimi Hendrix performing there. And rather than one huge bonfire, there are lots of small campfires.

Quartzsite Arizona RV boondocking in the desert

A typical scene around the campfire in Quartzsite

Of course, nowadays, it’s likely that a few faces in Quartzsite are the very same ones that were at Woodstock all those years ago, although they are probably a bit more wrinkled now, nearly 50 years later.

Dawn photography Quartzsite Arizona

Quartzsite has its share of wacky people. Some even lug their tripod up on their trailer roof to take pics at dawn.

The fun thing is that it is open to anyone that can get there, and come they do, driving, pulling, and probably in the worst cases even pushing whatever kind of RV they can get their hands on.

Motorhome RV Boondocking Quartzsite Arizona

Any and every kind of RV is welcome in the Quartzsite desert, from ordinary to off-the-wall.

We saw lots of beautiful Class A motorhomes decked out with great big solar power installations.

Solar power on a motorhome RV Quartzsite Arizona

Quartzsite is a great place to get ideas for how to configure your RV’s solar power

Solar panels on motorhome RV camping in Quartzsite Arizona

From small to tall, we saw solar panels of all kinds.

A cool custom bus conversion we came across looked like a fabulous way to go.

Custom bus conversion solar power project

Power and cargo carrying capacity to spare.

Some travelers forego the RV all together when they make their way to Quartzsite, and we were quite surprised to see a tent tucked between some RVs in the vendor area of the RV show.

Tent camping Quartzsite Arizona RV Show

If you can’t swing a rig with wheels, a tent will do the trick.

Getting up off the ground is good when it gets cold, though, and Quartzsite nights sometimes get down into the freezing zone in January. A vintage popup tent trailer we saw fit in just fine with the bigger rigs around it.

Antique popup tent trailer Quartzsite Arizona camping

A popup can be just the ticket in Quartzsite

Some folks like to add a little class to the antique RV niche in Quartzsite, and we saw more than a few wonderful old Airstream trailers.

Antique Airstream Trailer Quartzsite boondocking

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Going retro is cool, but some folks are handy and would rather build from scratch than deal with fixing and repairing an antique. We saw one rig that was totally custom.

Unusual Class C Motorhome in Arizona

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Another one we noticed was not entirely identifiable.

Unusual RV parking in the Arizona desert Quartzsite

Umm… what’s in the trailer?

At one point we found ourselves driving behind a Funny Car.

Funny Car Quartzsite Arizona

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Out in the desert, the love of rollling wheels includes remote control ATVs that scurry around on the hard packed gravel between the rigs.

Remote controller dune buggy and RV

Whaddya do all day in the desert in Quartzsite? Play!!

Others take to the sky for a bird’s eye view.

Quartzsite Arizona Ultralight

What a great way to survey the scene!

We took off on our bikes and found that just a few pedal strokes away from the RV madness are some pretty nice mountain biking trails. It can be a little soft and sandy in places, but the trails go on forever!

Mountain biking BLM land Quartzsite Arizona

A little spin on the bike can take you far from the crowd.

With all the RVs in town, there’s a constant RV traffic jam on the roads, and it’s not unusual to find the local gas stations filled with RVs.

RV lineup at gas pump Quartzsite Arizona

RVs fueling up at the gas station.

The Quartzsite RVing crowd is not proud. We all know what we’re made of and who we are. Wearing a t-shirt emblazoned “Trailer Trash” kinda sums up the sentiment in these parts.

Trailer Trash t-shirt for RVer Quartzsite AZ

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Well, maybe that’s a little harsh. “My Indian Name is ‘Runs With Beer'” may be closer to the truth for many.

Silly T-shirt at the Quartzsite RV Show Arizona

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Not everyone in town is a t-shirt type of guy, though, and the owner of Oasis Books on Main Street, Paul Winer, is famous for wearing nothing more than a thong.

He is very willing to pose for photos with the ladies at his store (I’ve done it too!), and he does his laundry — what little there is of it — right alongside all the RVers down at the Main Street Laundromat.

Quartzsite Laundry sign for Oasis Books

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And it’s a good thing too because, as another sign at the laundromat says…

Laundry Today or Naked Tomorrow

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The bulk of the Quartzsite crowd is old enough to have grown children, so, it’s not surprising to see a sticker on the back of a Honda CRV that says, “I love my Grandog.”

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Lots of grandmas and grandpas love their granddogs here, and a few love them to an extreme.

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Not all RV pets are quite so pampered, though, and one Kool Kat we saw in the desert was keeping a close eye on what was happening within reach of his trailer.

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No matter how you come to Quartzsite, there’s fun to be had in the desert, and we certainly had our share this year with the Hitchhiker fifth wheel gang.

Hitchhiker RV gathering Quartzsite Arizona

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At the end of our ten day stay, our new friends from the Hitchhiker group, Steve and Jean, brought out champagne for everyone, while Christine shared a plate of homemade chocolate covered strawberries fresh from her Mobile Suites RV kitchen.

Did anyone say we were roughing it out here?

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Mark shows off Christine’s truly decadent chocolate covered strawberries while Steve pours champagne. This is living!

Everyone raised their glasses in a toast to the great time we shared.

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Cheers…and Happy Trails til next year!

Almost every morning and evening we were in Quartzsite, the Arizona sunrises and sunsets lit up the sky in some of the most dramatic and colorful displays we have seen anywhere.

RV Hitchhikers dawn Quartzsite Arizona

It was another great year in Quartzsite AZ

If you have a buggy that rolls — or a tent you can pitch — join the RV party in Quartzsite, Arizona, next year!

RV sunset Quartzsite Arizona BLM land

A beautiful Quartzsite sunset

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Quartzsite RV Show – RV Stuff and So Much More!

January 2016 – The focal point of the January RV migration to Quartzsite, Arizona, is the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show. This is a wild event, attended by thousands, but the name is a little odd.

The show is geared primarily towards the lifestyle interests of the retired crowd and also has a fair bit to do with RVs. But it makes just passing references to vacations and has very little to do with sports at all!

Quartzsite Arizona camel sign

Quartzsite and its RV Show are as quirky as the camels that greet people on the way into town!

It’s strange name aside, the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show is a total hoot, and during the eight days it is open, thousands of folks from the North America’s senior set walk through the Big Tent in town and wander around the many booths scattered around the outside. If boredom sets in, there are loads of other flea markets and outdoor selling arenas in town that have trinkets, tools and household goodies for sale too.

Entrance to Quartzsite Arizona RV Show

Walking into the Quartzsite RV Show

The RV Show is a freestyle cross between a county fair and a flea market, and vendors set up shop all over the grounds to keep show goers well fed with funnel cakes and kettle corn and ice cream.

Funnel cakes Quartzsite RV Show

You won’t go hungry at the RV show!

Inside, we found the Escapees RV Club booth right away and got chatting with Mark Nemeth, the magazine’s technical guru who shares his wisdom in every issue in his column, “Mark My Words.”

Escapees Booth Quartzsite Arizona RV Show

We met up with RV tech guru Mark Nemeth (in the blue shirt) at the Escapees RV Club booth

Nearby was the tourism board for Alaska, and we snagged a map and learned a little about how to tackle an RV roadtrip to the far north.

Quartzsite Arizona RV Show - Alaska booth

Curious about Alaska? This booth has the answers!

Last year, we were charmed by a brief chat we had with Amazon Camperforce representative Nancy, and we were thrilled to find she was at their booth again. She and her husband, David, have worked for Amazon as ambassadors for their unique RV workamping program for several years, and her warm smile and enthusiasm for the program were as infectious as ever.

Even better, they travel full-time in a Hitchhiker Champagne fifth wheel trailer, and although they were camped near town for an easy commute to the show every day, one evening they came out to the Plomosa Road campsite in the desert, where the Hitchhikers were gathered, and joined the group for a potluck dinner.

Amazon Camperforce RV Workamping booth Quartzsite RV Show

I was thrilled to see David and Nancy at the Amazon Camperforce booth again this year.

The RV Show is more of a Home Show and Lifestyle Show than it is specifically an RV show, and there were lots of gadgets for sale that are handy in the home whether it rolls down the road or sits on a permanent foundation.

The Sweepa Broom looked like it could be super handy for RVers. Lots of show goers were carrying these brooms, and that had been the case last year too. In fact, last year the booth was shut down by the time we got to it because they had sold out, so we were glad to be able to catch the demo this year. It was amazing how thoroughly it swept up pet hair!

Sweepa brooms Quartzsite RV Show Arizona

Some of the hottest selling items would be handy in either a rolling or stick built home.

The Sweepa Broom folks still had plenty of stock when we stopped by, but the Chilling the Most booth was plumb out of their product. I have no idea what they were selling, but it was obvsiouly very popular!

Chilling the Most Quartzsite RV Show

Oops… got to this booth too late!

There’s no segmentation or grouping by product type in this show. All the vendors are jumbled together. So we got a laugh when we saw the Vitamix blender booth right next to the National Park Service booth. Well, that’s the RV life, I guess: make a smoothie and go see the Grand Canyon!

Vitamix and National Park Service RV Show Quartzsite Arizona

The essence of the Quartzsite RV Show: Vitamix blenders and the National Park Service side by side.

Food prep is a big deal at this show, and lots of vendors were giving demos of various kitchen gadgets. The Primo Peeler definitely put my old fashioned carrot peeler to shame. It slices, it dices…

Quartzsite Arizona Primo Vegetable Peeler

The Quartzsite RV Show is in large part a Home Show — and why not?!

A very popular booth offered a “detox for life” foot bath. Just soak your feet in a magic forumla in a bucket for a while, and you’ll detox your whole body. Meanwhile, the liquid in the bucket turns a frightening color.

Snake oil or life saving health product? Who knows — it’s Quartzsite!

Detox for Life RV Show Quartzsite Arizona

Detox for Life – just soak your feet in this bucket for a bit.

At some booths, like the detox booth, we had to stretch our imaginations a little to figure out if they were aiming their product at the Sports people, the Vacation people or RV people in the show’s audience. The mini-flipper 4 wheel drive ATV toy and Urban Rail Car and Create A Track train sets really gave us pause for thought.

Mini-Flipper Toy Quartzsite Arizona RV Show

A toy for the grandkids — or for the kid in all of us!

Suddenly, it hit me. Most of the folks attending the show were grandparents — and they had grandkids to buy for. What could be better for the little tyke than a toy train or ATV?! Funny thing was, when we got back out to our desert campsite, we saw a guy — a full grown guy — playing with a flipper ATV he’d picked up at the show. I guess we’re all kids at heart!

Of course, lots of people have grandkids at home, but they travel with their little pooch when they go RVing. Many of them brought their furry friends along to the show.

Dog in stroller Quartzsite Arizona RV Show

Puppy love…

Even though the crowds were thick in the aisles of the show, lots of little dogs made their way from booth to booth in baby strollers.

Dog stroller Quartzsite RV Show Arizona

It’s easier to brave the crowds from the protection of a stroller!!

There were RV seminar presentations too. As we passed one, the crowd was being introduced to RV slide-out carpet protectors. A neat tip we’ve found, though, is to use flexible cutting boards instead (pics here) and save a few bucks.

RV seminars Quartzsite RV Show Arizona

Seminars were being given on various RVing topics.

We caught up with the folks at Wholesale Warranties too. A year ago we were not so sure how useful an RV warranty could be, but this year we discovered just how important it is to have one for an older RV — our $1,904 four year policy covered $6,700 of repairs in just over a year — so it was great to put some faces with the names of the good folks at this company.

We were also fascinated to learn about their new RV repair facility rating and review website called RV Repair Direct. Since they have a vested interest in having warranty repairs done correctly the first time, they are putting together a database of RV repair facilities where people can rate and review the service providers they have used.

Wholesale Warranties Quartzsite RV Show Arizona

We met the gang at Wholesale Warranties and learned about a new service they have.

What an inventive idea this database is. Lord knows, figuring out which repair shops are good and which aren’t is really important and not easy at all! As I chatted with founder and CEO Jeff Shelton (on the right in the above photo), I was really impressed with his energy and his many creative ideas and his enthusiasm for the RV lifestyle.

RV insurance companies were at the show too, and Progressive Insurance had a long line out the door.

Progressive Insurance Quartzsite RV Show

Whatever Progressive was giving away, it had to be good. Look at that line!

And outside we found lots of RVs for sale.

In one area there were a bunch of used Prevost motorhomes for sale. New ones go for about a mil and a half, so we jumped at the chance to peek inside some used ones and see what it would be like to live in a six year old $650k rolling home.

Prevost RV Interior

Mark gets a feel for how “the other half” lives.

The Prevost tours were popular, but I think the ice cream vendors were the ones that were really raking it in. This year for the RV Show the weather was sunny and warm, and everyone seemed to be licking an ice cream cone!

Ice cream shop Quartzsite Arizona

Ice cream was a big seller!

Of course, as the afternoon wore on, the outdoor beer and burger venues began filling up too. In the morning when we had first passed the “Happiest Place in Quartzsite” on our way into the show, the seats were all empty. But by the time we left in the afternoon they were full!

Happiest Place in Quartzsite Arizona

The “Happiest Place in Quartzsite” !!

At the end of the day we relaxed with our new Hitchhiker friends around the campfire.

Quartzsite Hitchhiker RV gathering Arizona

The RV Show is fun, but I think the real draw in Quartzsite is getting together with friends.

What a fun way to spend a few days in the middle of winter!

Quartzsite Home of the RV Show in Arizona

Sunrise in Quartzsite

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Quartzsite, Arizona – The RV Gathering Place

January 2016 – Before we went to Quartzsite this year, some soon-to-be full-time RVers asked us why it is that RV travelers go there. They were native Arizonans and they knew that Quartzsite is just a truck stop of a town on I-10 between Phoenix and LA. So why would such a dumpy little town swell from less than 4,000 people in July to something like a million people in January, almost all of them living in RVs?

Quartzsite Arizona RV Show

Quartzsite, Arizona, is a gathering place for RVers of all kinds each winter.

We tried to explain about the January RV Show in town, and the 15 mile radius of retirees boondocking all around, and the huge rallies for owners of all kinds of RVs, from Montana fifth wheels to Alpine coaches and Safari motorhomes to dozens of other RV manufacturers.

We talked about the moveable feast of pot-luck dinners, and the campfire cocktail circles at sundown, and the huge outdoor movie screens that folks set up, and the crazy flags flying from all the RV roofs, and the light shows people put on in the dark on their RVs.

RV boondocking in Quartzsite Arizona desert

Quartzsite is best known for its wild RV boondocking scene in the desert.

“So it’s a social thing?” They asked. Well, yes, we realized. In a nutshell that’s what it really is.

Quartzsite is “The Gathering Place,” and it seems that almost everyone who is living in the southwest in their RV in January swings by for a day or a week or a month. Some even spend the whole season here.

Quartzsite Arizona RV in RV Park

There are RV parks in town with full hookups, and some folks stay all winter — or even all year!

There are all kinds of places to park an RV and to get together with friends. There are RV parks with full hookups, and there are enclosed camping areas called Long Term Visitors Areas (LTVAs) on BLM land near town with toilets and dump stations and water where you can stay for a modest fee. And then there’s the free desert boondocking on BLM land a little further out.

Escapees Boondockers RV Rally Quartzsite Arizona

RVing groups and rallies of all kinds come to Quartzsite. Even the Escapes Boondockers “Birds of a Feather” group camps together in the desert

The Sonoran Desert in this corner of the state has a hard-packed gravel surface that is easy to drive on, and there is very little vegetation. So, you can drive your rig anywhere, in almost any direction, and park and set up camp. If you’ve got friends that are coming or if you are part of an organized group, all the better.

Off-Road Geezers RV rally Quartzsite Arizona

All kinds of groups gather together in Quartzsite each January.

There are little signs all over the place pointing to where each social group has convened. The Escapees Boondockers stake out one area, the Off-Road Geezers stake out another, and the Gad Abouts and DV8’s take another. These are just a tiny few of the many dozens of groups we’ve seen.

Gad About RV Camping Gathering Quartzsite Arizona

Are you a Gad About? Park here!

The DV8 RV camping group in Quartzsite Arizona

The DV8’s were having a great time not too far from us

Some groups don’t have signs but just wave flags instead, and you have to walk over to the group and talk to them to find out what their group is all about.

A group of rigs flying a big yellow flag with a red crab on it really got us guessing.

The Crabbers RV group Quartzsite Arizona

Flags fly high from RVs all over the desert.
American flag. Air Force flag. Crab flag??

“We’re Crabbers!” An old fellow told me. “We have small boats and trap crabs on the Oregon coast.”

And here they were in the Arizona desert doing the Quartzsite RV camping thing!!

Others just stake out a spot of their own without being part of an organized group. So it has always been for us.

RV boondocking fifth wheel trailer Quartzsite Arizona

We found a quiet corner and got set up.

However, this year, right after we unhitched our new truck and started leveling our trailer, a couple walked over and told us we were about 100 yards from the Hitchhiker fifth wheel gathering. They were all just beyond the next wash. Since we own a Hitchhiker fifth wheel trailer, they suggested we come on over for happy hour and meet the gang.

Hitchhiker Fifth wheel RV rally Quartzsite Arizona

The Hitchhiker group was a great bunch to hang out with. And since Hitchhikers are no longer made, there was no problem joining in if you were in some other kind of RV. Two couples were in Mobile Suites!

What a fun group! They all knew each other from the very active Hitchhiker Owner’s Forum, a forum I haven’t frequented for many years since I first researched trailers before we went full-time.

No matter! When we got over there we were welcomed like family, and immediately handed paper plates and forks, and told to go grab some grub from the large table of sumptuous food. We joined the circle around the campfire and had a blast.

Over the next week we spent every afternoon and evening with this really fun crowd.

Hitchhiker Fifth wheel RV rally Quartzsite Arizona

How cool to find that we were a short walk from the Hitchhiker gathering!!

Campfire storytelling is always a blast, and Lee and Christine regaled us with hilarious tales from their careers as dog trainers for Hollywood’s A-list stars. Steve, Jean and Pat shared great tips from their RV trip to Alaska last year.

Old salts Rick and Virgie told stories of their coastal and offshore sailing adventures between California and Mexico navigating with nothing more than a hand-bearing compass and a sextant back in the 80’s. We were amazed when they described entering the stunningly beautiful but dicey bay of Careyes at night, an anchorage that we loved but that’s so tricky that few sailors trouble with it.

Hitchhiker Fifth wheel RV rally Quartzsite Arizona

There was a campfire and great food every night.

Our location was about 12 miles north of town on Route 95 and then east on Plomosa Road about 2.5 miles. There are a dozen turn-offs to both the north and south along a three mile stretch of Plomosa Road where you just drive out into the desert with your rig and find a place to park. There were little groups everywhere we turned.

RV Rally Quartzsite Arizona

RVers gather all over the place on the BLM land surrounding Quartzsite.

What’s fun is that the same groups claim the same trees and washes and fire rings in this part of the desert every year.

Quartzsite Arizona Gathering Place for RV travelers

Little groups in camp chairs can be seen everywhere.

Interestingly, this is the corner where a lot of the single RVers hang out. The Solo’s and the Loners On Wheels were not too far from us, and the WINs (Wandering Individuals Network) were a really big group nearby.

WIN Wandering Individual Network Rally Quartzsite Arizona

The Wandering Individuals Network are a fun-loving group of single RVers.

The funny thing is that with all of these people busy socializing in the desert with their RVs, there’s a business opportunity for all kinds of RV service people. A really funky undercurrent of the Quartzsite experience is all the vendors who capitalize on repairing and upgrading the RVs that show up in the desert. They take full advantage of serving this captive audience for a few weeks.

We saw mobile RV repair service guys everywhere.

RV Mobile Repair Service Quartzsite Arizona

The RV Mobile Repair folks were out in force!

Not only did we see them in town, but they were zipping across the desert too, fixing everything from windows to awnings to electrical systems.

RV Windshield Repair mobile RV repair

No customer is too far out!

RV Mobile Tech repair for RVs and motorohomes Quartzsite Arizona

Getting it done… in the desert!

Some guys are general practitioners, while others are specialists in one area of RV repair or another.

Mobile RV Awning Repair Quartzsite Arizona

Nothing like getting the RV awning repaired while having a beer in the desert.

This desert camping is all dry camping, of course, and you can see just about every imaginable kind of boondocking setup out in the desert. Some folks have big, elaborate solar power systems on their roofs, and others have just a solar panel or two propped up on the ground, while many many others simply run a generator for a few hours a day.

Quartzsite Arizona the RV Gathering Place

Many RV rooftops sport solar panels, and there are all different configurations.

Naturally, cocktail conversation frequently turns to electrical systems, solar power and batteries, and how to keep them charged. Mobile RV service guys that specialize in electrical systems are lept busy all day long. A few solar installers in town have lines out the door as well.

Mobile RV Repair Service Quartzsite Arizona

Some mobile RV techs (like Phil & Ann’s RV) specialize in electrical work. What a workshop!

Lots of folks come to Quartzsite looking to upgrade their rig too, and RV retailers set up shop for a few weeks in town with temporary lots full of new and used rigs.

RV Sales Quartzsite Arizona

There are RVs for sale on every corner.

Motorhome Sales Quartzsite Arizona

Lots of folks come to Quartzsite with dreams of finding a new rolling home.

For us, this was a really special Quartzsite year. Not only did we meet up with a great group of people, but the weather was pretty near perfect the whole time, with warm days and almost no wind (it can be very windy and dusty there!). Best of all, the sunsets were divine!!

Sunset Quartzsite Arizona RV

Some of the sunrises and sunsets this year were truly spectacular

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The RV Show in Quartzsite AZ – More Than Just RVs!

The RV Show in Quartzsite, Arizona, is one of the biggest and wackiest RV shows around. Selling everything from hydraulic leveling systems to Good Sam Club memberships to Watkins spices, it is the focal point for thousands of RVers who come from all corners of the continent to camp out in the desert for free and check out the latest and greatest in the RV industry’s offerings.

Quartzite itself is a totally funky and quirky place, full of interesting characters and odd sightings. We got a flavor of that from a few signs we saw outside business establishments on our way into the show.

Free Beer Tomorrow in Quartzsite Arizona

Oh, darn!

Parking is at a premium during RV Show week in this tiny town, and traffic is a dusty, snarly nightmare on the dirt roads that run between the flea market tables around the outdoor edges of the show. We had to laugh when we saw one exasperated vendor had put up this sign on the edge of his outdoor booth:

No parking sign Quartzsite AZ style

People from all walks of life flock to Quartzsite in January, and everywhere you go around town vendors are peddling anything and everything they can. The tiny town’s streets are overloaded with folks hawking goodies off open air tables under makeshift tarps. From pizza to homemade ice cream, food vendors had it all, and a pair of street musicians set up shop just outside the show entrance.

Singing for their Supper

Serenading show goers outside the show

There was good music inside the show too, and Johnny Goodrum, whose karaoke style crooning we remembered from our visit to the RV Show six years ago, kept the massive crowd happily entertained with his mellow karaoke style songs.

John Goodman sings at the Quartzsite RV Show in Arizona

Music inside the show!

Did I mention the crowd was massive? It was shoulder-to-shoulder, hip-to-hip throngs of people as far as we could see down every aisle, both inside and outside the big RV show tent. We shuffled along at a snail’s pace, watching salespeople demo everything imaginable. One of the first booths we saw was selling induction cookware, a boon for RVers who don’t want to heat up the inside of their RV on hot summer nights. This electric cooking system uses the magic of electro-magnetism to heat food without making the burner itself hot. It is fantastic if you have electric hookups but might be tricky for boondocking, as it draws over 1,000 watts, a big drain on the batteries.

Induction cooking booth at the Quartzsite AZ RV Show

Induction cooking booth

The RV Show is as much a lifestyle show for the senior set as it is a show for RVers, and along with practical goodies for RVing, there were all kinds of anti-aging elixirs promising a sip from the fountain of youth. Lotions and potions and drops of snake oil were in abundance. They could make wrinkles disappear, stop snoring, and put an end to migraine headaches. Foot baths detoxified your body and massage chairs relaxed aching muscles.

“I can fix your pain” One vendor called out to me as I passed.

“But I don’t have any pain!” I laughed back.

Wrinkles disappear ask here

Wrinkles be gone!

If a salve, or pill, or magic powder in a drink wasn’t to your liking, there was a hair salon booth that would happily give you a new do!

Hair Salon booth in Quartzsite Arizona at the RV Show

Get a new hairdo at the RV Show!

Lots of these booths had images of very happy older people looking quite young, but we were really taken aback when we saw a huge image of the svelte, bare mid-section of a young woman who was definitely not a card carrying AARP member just yet. Something about the almost provocative photography and the large amounts of skin showing on all the people kept my eye scanning the photos around this booth, and then I saw why. This was the booth for the American Association for Nude Recreation. And the salesman had a huge grin on his face!

American Association for Nude Recreation booth at the RV show

Why is this man smiling?!

“You meet the nicest people at the nude RV parks,” he was telling me as my eyebrows shot up in my head. “It’s impossible to be a jerk when your naked.”

Is that so? Well, I imagine that must be true…!

He suggested we stop by one of their 260 affiliate resorts and try out their special brand of freedom — a nakation! He went on to say that the AANR has been encouraging folks to get in touch with their own naturism for 84 years, and they now have over 200,000 members!

When I got back to the rig, I just had to check out their online logo-wear clothing store… what exactly would they sell? Ummm… jewelry??

Dog triplets in a baby carriage in Quartzsite Arizona

Triplets!

Buffs of going in the buff weren’t the only unusual attendees at this show. Dogs were in abundance. Most were wearing their natural furry birthday suits, but quite a few wore sporty jackets, and many of them never let their paws touch the ground. Dog lovers carried their pups in kangaroo pouches and other cuddly hugging sacks, and a huge number of adorable dogs were pushed and pulled around the grounds in strollers and wagons.

I knew the RV show was going to the dogs stood when I reached into a freebie candy dish at one booth and pulled out a dog treat!

Dog in a wagon

Riding around the show in style

The most fashionable pampered pooches wore sunglasses!

Dog in a four wheeler ATV

“I’m cool…!”

For animal lovers that didn’t have room in their lives for a canine companion, perhaps the funniest and most endearing booth at the show was the Sugar Glider display. This wasn’t some kind of fancy lazy susan to pass the sugar around the RV dinner table. These were adorable little marsupials that come from the rainforests of Indonesia and Australia.

Sugar Glider marsupial pet

Ever heard of a sugar glider?

A sugar glider breeder, who clearly loved his pets and his job, was very busy capturing peoples’ hearts as he showed the way these unique animals snuggle in your shirt and leap great distances (like a flying squirrel) from person to person. He explained that they are ideal pets for many folks because they sleep all day and want to hang with (or on) their owners after work in the evenings.

I was amazed when he described his breeding facility. He has a dedicated 2,000 square foot building for 400 breeding pairs of sugar gliders. They are the size of a grain of rice when born, and they spend 11 weeks in mom’s pouch growing from a virtual embryo into a furry little animal. They can glide for 150′ between treetops in the rainforest canopy, and a skydiver even released one at 10,000′ and glided alongside it (just inches from his hand) until they both reached 1,000′ when he tucked him back into his pocket!

Sugar Glider for sale at the RV Show

Sugar gliders make great pets!!

But between all these crazy booths, there were some things for RVers (and homeowners) that seemed really useful. One fellow was demonstrating the ShamWow towel. We have a few of those, but we discovered we had been using them wrong! Unlike a normal towel that you use dry to mop up wet things, the ShamWow has to be wet in order to work. You soak it, wring it out, and THEN place it on your puddle of spilled wine or coffee. Only then can the magic begin to happen. Who knew?

ShamWow towel demonstration at the Quartzsite RV Show

Moisten your ShamWow towel before using it!

Another guy did a fabulous demo of a miracle doormat. He was wearing big rubber boots and had a pail of very muddy water that he swished his feet in. Then he’d take two steps across the mat onto a clean sheet of paper (without wiping his feet!), and there wouldn’t be a drop or hint of mud on the paper, not even an outline of a footprint!

I watched him do it several times and then tried it myself. I asked him how it would work with dust since that is our biggest nemesis in our trailer. He said it would work great. So out came $40 from our wallet for one of these doormats. How could we resist??!!

And does it work? Well, we just had three days of muddy, rainy, yuck in Arizona, and our floors are clean. The trick, though, is that this floor mat has to be washed first. We tried it when we first got it home, and it was okay, but not super effective. Once we ran it through the washer (letting it drip dry in the sun), it worked just like we saw at the show. Pretty darn cool!

Miracle Doormat demonstration at the Quartzsite Arizona RV Show

One step on this doormat cleans the bottoms of those muddy boots!

Another nifty product we saw was a slick folding portable solar power kit. This would be ideal for RV weekenders and vacationers who want the freedom of solar power but don’t want the hassle of doing a permanent installation on their RV roof. The cool thing about it is that the two panels fold together into a hardshell suitcase that is easy to carry and has a built-in handle.

This clever foldaway system also protects the panels, so they won’t get damaged when you store them. When you set the panels up you can easily tilt them towards the sun with the built-in brackets so you can maximize their efficiency. Of course, this isn’t a huge full-timer’s solar power setup, as described here, but we would have absolutely loved having it when we traveled around on weekends and vacations with our popup tent trailer!

Portable folding solar panel kit for an RV

A wonderful folding portable solar power kit for RV weekending and vacations.

There were other fabulous booths, and we picked up memory foam pillows and fancy LED lights and other things we really didn’t need but just couldn’t resist when we saw them in action. There was one booth selling yellow brooms that everyone was buying. No matter where you turned, someone had a yellow broomstick in their hands. When we finally got down to their booth, however, the demos were over because they had sold out. Whatever those brooms can do, it must be really great! Oh well… next time!

Outside there were lots of new RVs lined up. We are partial to fifth wheel trailers, so we wandered in and out of a lot of them. One of the most interesting fivers was the Alfa Gold from Lifestyle RV. The innovative floorplan has a storage room on the driver’s side with a back door leading out to it and a big ramp door that opens to the ground. The model on display had a motorcycle ramp in this room.

Lifestyle Alfa Gold 5th Wheel Motorcycle Garage

How about a little garage or storage room off the side of your fifth wheel?!

Another model just has a storage room. You could keep bikes, a generator, the grill, camping chairs, patio mats, tables and all kinds of other big gear in this room. How clever!

Lifestyle Alpha Gold 5th wheel with storage room

What a cool idea!

So, those are some of the wild and crazy things we saw at the unusual Quartzsite Arizona RV Show. This RV and Home Show is a kind of three ring circus in the desert, and I don’t know what we liked most — the RV stuff or the quirky sideshows!

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Sunset over RVs in Quartzsite AZ

Arizona is a land of stunning sunsets, and the other night we were blessed with a sensational one that covered the entire sky. As it slowly progressed, we saw RV doors opening all around us as people came out into the desert to admire it and snap some pics. Campfire conversations came to a halt too as everyone turned to face the sky.

Getting a sunset photo in Quartzsite AZ from the roof of our RV

I hopped up on our roof to see if I could get some pics of the scene. It was like standing under a dome of pink and orange, as the entire sky lit up around us and the vibrant color intensified.

Sunset over RVs in Quartzsite Arizona

…facing east…

RV at sunset in Arizona

…southern view…

Quartzsite Arizona RV sunset

…to the west..

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Quartzsite Arizona – RV Madness in the Desert!

January, 2015 – For the past few days, we’ve been boondocking in the heart of snowbird RV madness in Quartzsite, Arizona, alongside tens of thousands of other RVs. This is a wild and crazy place full of wacky seniors soaking up the warm sun and living it up in the desert.

Quartzsite is such a small blip on the map on I-10, between Phoenix and LA, that few motorists on the interstate give it the time of day, unless they need gas. However, flocks of RVs descend on it every winter, because of the massive tracts of BLM land (and free camping) that surround the town.

Boondocking in an RV in Quartzsite Arizona

Quartzsite is a haven for RVers in January

Stretching in a ten mile radius from the I-10 exit, the land is open, vast, and empty. It is also naturally hard packed gravel, which makes a perfect surface for driving and parking. RVers set up camp in the desert anywhere they wish.

Motorhome camped in the Arizona desert

When the annual week-long Quartzsite RV show starts in January, RVing groups of all kinds stake out sections of the desert as their own. The desert becomes littered with signs pointing to the various gatherings. We drove 13 miles to the northeast of town, to a far corner of BLM land on Plomosa Road.  We passed thousands of RVs randomly parked all over the place before we finally turned off the paved road and drove out into the desert ourselves.

Was this remote spot quiet? Heck no! We could see RVs parked as far as a half a mile or more from the road — on both sides!

Alpine Coach Association motorhome Rally in Quartzsite Arizona

Our campsite was just a few steps from the Alpine Coach Association rally

We rode our bikes around to check out the neighbors and discovered we had parked just a few yards from the Alpine Coach Association rally. Ninety Alpine motorhomes were lined up in a huge U-shape around a big tent (where breakfast, dinner and cocktail parties were held), and lots of members who couldn’t squeeze into the U were camped on the outskirts.

Montana fifth wheel RV rally in Quartzsite Arizona

The Montana fifth wheel circle was close to us too.

Just past the Alpine motorhomes, a Montana fifth wheel rally had formed an enormous circle of the wagons. Each Montana fifth wheel had parked facing outwards, and a huge collection of camping chairs surrounded an enormous campfire in the middle. We were told 70 Montanas had come to the rally, and dozens of trailers that didn’t fit into the circle were camped all around the outside.

Campfire wood and boondocking in Quartzsite Arizona

The heart of every gathering is the campfire — and you just can’t have enough wood!

Tiffin Motorhomes, Safari Motorhomes, Pacer Motorhomes and even a tiny Hitchhiker fifth wheel group had staked out places in the desert. But it isn’t just RV brands that bring people together for cocktails by a campfire here. The Roving Rods, several Escapees chapters, and other groups had gathered in various spots too. One had built a huge woodpile that would be burned each night throughout the week.

RV club signs

Groups posts signs so they can find each other.

We seemed to be in the midst of several enormous singles groups too. The Escapees Solos, the WINS (Wandering Individuals Network) and the LOWS (Loners on Wheels) were all camped near us.

Escapees Solos RV Rally Group

Some groups have flags too, like the Escapees Solos

Boondocking in Quartzsite is an art form unto itself, and we saw rigs of all kinds. Everyone is living on solar power or generator power, and some of the solar power getups we saw were fantastic.

Motorhome with solar panels

More Power!!

Because solar panels produce a lot more power in the wintertime if they are tilted to the south, RVers get very inventive with ways to get as much solar power as possible.

RV solar panel mounting system

Lots of people have unique solar power setups

Motorhome towing a utility trailer in Quartzsite Arizona

Everyone is towing something, and sometimes they even match!

Quartzsite attracts a wild mix of people and rigs. You never know what you’ll see.  One minute we saw a motorhome towing a trailer that had an elaborate matching paint scheme.

Class A motorhome towing a Class C motorhome

When one motorhome isn’t enough!

The next minute we saw a Class A motorhome towing a Class C motorhome beind. A mother-in-law suite! What next?!

Crazy painted bus

Some folks put art on their rolling homes.

There are homemade rigs, bus conversions of every vintage, and some really amazing paint jobs to boot.

The mobile RV mechanics have steady work during the winter months in Quartzsite, and we saw quite a few at the different rallies.

Mobile RV awning repair in Quartzite Arizona

Your awning all hosed up? This guy will come to you!

Mobile RV Glass Repair service truck

Need that huge motorhome windshield replaced? No Problem!

Awning specialists, RV glass replacement specialists and general mobile RV mechanics were on the loose out in the desert, and they were finding plenty of work, I’m sure!

RV Pit Stop in Quartzsite Arizona

RV Pit Stop — A drive through for dumping the waste tanks and getting fresh water and propane.

Near town there is a wonderful service station that we’ve never seen in any other part of the country: the RV Pit Stop. It offers all the basic RV services in a drive-through. You can dump your holding tanks, fill up on fresh water and get propane all at once. And propane at $2.30 a gallon is a sweet deal too!

RV camping in the Arizona desert

In Quartzsite, always expect the unexpected!

Quartzsite in January is a place like no other. Part Burning Man/Woodstock, part flea market, part trade show and part AARP convention, it has to be seen to be believed! If you’re looking for serenity in the desert, you won’t find it here. On the other hand, you might look up and see an ultra-light flying over your rig at dusk, and there’s something very fun and funky about that. And that’s the essence of Quartzsite!

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Fiery Sunsets and Interesting Folks in the Arizona Desert

Groups mark their territories and gather in the desert

in Quartzsite.

Whiling away the morning making music in the desert.

"Rowdy" of Cutler's Bull & Donkey Show

Quartzsite welcomes

characters of all kinds....

....no dress code required.

People come from all over, any way they can.

I heard a noise and looked out the window to see this

plane land a few feet from our trailer!

The desert pilots fly all manner of craft, but they have

nothing on the natural airborne essence of the

hummingbirds.

Sunrise

Sunset

Classic Sonoran Desert scenery at the White Tanks

mountains west of Phoenix.

The small cholla cactus applaud the silent, serene

performance of the Saguaros.

Water !!

And here it is, about 200 yards from the rock sign that the

ancients carved.

Arizona Deserts

December, 2008 and January 2009 - After Yuma, we stopped in Quartzsite en route to Phoenix for the holidays.  This became the

first of a delightful string of reunions with friends and family that filled our winter months, and we returned again in January.  As we

first settled into the strange desert living that characterizes boondocking in the Quartzsite BLM land, winter arrived with a

vengeance.  The land is ideal for RVs - flat, level, and hard-packed, as if it were paved.  But it is very exposed, with only some low

desert scrub brush and the rare saguaro cactus and hummingbird as company.  When the wind decides to blow the trailer rocks!

We camped next to our friends Bob & Donna Lea whose 20 years of

experience with winter camping in Arizona's deserts was invaluable as we

tackled the project of installing a new heater.  Their warm company made

the chilly, grey days pass very quickly, and we had a chance to compare

our solar setups (see notes at bottom of that page).

Each January, when it plays host to a series of gem shows and the

annual RV show, Quartzsite swells from a truck stop with a few homes

and small

stores to a 120

square mile

parking lot

filled with

retired RVers

from the north

country.  RVers gather in groups of all kinds, marking their territory with

signs.  "Loners on Wheels," "The Gadabouts," "Escapees Boondockers,"

and manufacturers' rallies fill the desert for miles in every direction.  A

paper plate with a couple's names on it and an arrow is enough to signal

friends to a gathering location.  There is no reservation system and no

management of these crazed senior citizens, so if you arrive and your

favorite spot is taken, you find another spot.

This year the Montana Owners' rally was the most impressive, even

though they took our friends' preferred spot by their favorite saguaro.  The

group drew an enormous circle in the desert floor, and as each rig arrived

it was carefully parked in a spoke pattern around the circle.  Some 50

Montana fifth wheels showed up, and

they formed a perfect circle around their

mammoth campfire.

Quartzsite is filled with unusual

characters.  As we walked one morning

we passed a couple making music

outside a rig.  He had been a

professional musician in his day, and

she was enjoying his pointers and

accompaniment.  Another day we were greeted by a

couple that puts on an animal show with their farm

animals in nearby Bouse.  They were doing rig-to-rig

advertising as they drove their animals through the

desert and invited people to their show.

Sightings of "rare birds" is common in Quartzsite, and

people watching is great entertainment for everyone.

We visited Paul's Oassis Books

bookstore again, and he was

dressed in his holiday finest.

Seeing Quartzsite out of

season makes you wonder

what would ever draw anyone

to visit this desolate, dusty,

shabby town.  But in January

people arrive

from all over,

and the town

comes alive.

We are accustomed to seeing hummingbirds at our trailer window's

feeder, but where else would you peek out your window to see a small

plane land just a few feet away?  We got a wave from the pilot when he

took off again!

Not just

Quartzsite's

culture but its

skies come alive

morning and

evening as well.

We were

blessed with

several stunning

sunrises and

sunsets.

I loved the way

the whole desert

sunset scene

would be

reflected in the

rear window of

our trailer.

Between visits

to Quartzsite,

we stopped in

Phoenix for

Christmas.  We

took several

wonderful hikes

in the White

Tank mountains

west of the city.

One hike goes to a waterfall that runs

only after a torrential downpour.  We were lucky and got a downpour and the waterfall was still

running when we hiked in.  I was fascinated to see a rock covered with petroglyphs showing

squiggly horizontal lines.  Clearly, the people who lived there a thousand or more years ago

noted the occasional presence of water by pecking out the universally recognized symbol of

water on the rock face.

After the holidays we

snuck back to San Diego

for the January sailboat

show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quartzsite, AZ – Snowbird Roost

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The RV show has tents filled with vendors of every

description.

Hi Jolly in Quartzsite, AZ

Quartzsite, Arizona

November 27-December 8, 2007 and January 10-24,

2008 - We took our time traveling from Death Valley

through Pahrump, Nevada and Lake Havasu, Arizona

and finally settled down for a while in Quartzsite,

Arizona.  This is a small dusty desert town of 2,000

year-round residents that swells to 1,000,000 people in

January during the annual RV show and RV snowbird

migration from the northern states and Canada.

We arrived before the madness really took hold, but we still

found the desert boondocking areas surrounding the town

absolutely teeming with RV's.  The Escapees Boondockers had a

rendez-vous a few miles outside of town and we parked near

them.

The Escapees are folks that like to have fun, and everyday there was a

schedule posted on the communal white board.  Many of these folks have

been full-time RVing for ten years or more, and for the first time we found

ourselves surrounded by people who had a lot of experience with this

crazy lifestyle.

We had felt pretty smug about our 130 watt solar panel, because it

had given us all the power we needed over the summer.  But as we

sat through a week of overcast, cold days with nights that started

around 5:00 pm, we realized we needed to know more about our

electrical system.

We were using oil lamps to supplement our power needs

while our neighbors watched their 32" TVs in comfort.

There were Escapees who traveled with wind generators

-- when the sun doesn't shine in the desert you can count

on howling winds -- and one fellow had 1,000 watts of

solar power.  We quizzed everyone around us about their

setup and we learned more in those few weeks than we had since we had started in May.

One morning we woke up to find a 27' sailboat parked in the desert near us.

The couple onboard was traveling from Flathead Lake in Montana to San

Carlos, Mexico to launch their boat in the Sea of Cortez for the winter.  They

were living in the boat on its trailer.  Now that was an interesting camping setup!

One of the great joys in

Arizona is the

spectacular sunsets.

As our quiet desert days

passed, we were treated to

one amazing evening

display after another.

A popular activity for

these wintertime

desert dwellers is

flying ultralights.  We

were parked next to a group

that took off in their flying

machines every morning.  It

was a colorful sight, and we

enjoyed sipping our morning

coffee watching these guys

take off into the sky.

There are many places to

boondock both north and

south of town.  It is very

congested along the major

roads and there are little

handmade signs everywhere

pointing to gatherings of like-

minded people.  The Solos were clever

and parked their rigs next to the Loners on

Wheels.  We saw signs for the "Roamin'

Rods" (fisherman), Mineral Lovers and

Elks.  Many brands of RVs had rallies.

Monaco, Nuwa, Alfa, Allegro and others

clustered together.

If you take your time, you can find a

quiet spot away from the crowds.  You

set yourself up to get the best view and

the best sun angle for your solar

panels.

We found a nice spot that even had a fire ring from some earlier visitor.

After we got settled

we discovered we

had parked right

behind the Alpine

Coach rally.  As

the days passed

their numbers

grew to over 100

coaches, many

worth $400,000+.

We hadn't

realized we'd settled into the high rent district!!

Their rally was lots of fun and included

several catered meals and a double-

feature drive-in movie one night -- all in

the open desert.

Alpine sent some salespeople into the desert with demo coaches for sale, so we had an

impromptu RV dealership set up right next to us.  We had a blast touring these amazing rolling

homes.

The fun thing about boondocking in the

desert in the winter is that you never know

who your neighbors will be.  People living on

a microscopic budget out of the back of their

pickup truck end up next to multi-

millionaires.  Social barriers and manned

gates that alienate these people in other

communities disappear out here.  The guy in the 1970's van and the

guy in the brand new gazillion dollar mobile mansion can be good

buddies for a few days while they are camped side by side in the

desert.

Quartzite is a classic funky Arizona desert town.  Ages

ago an arab came to the area with camels, thinking these

hearty desert beasts of burden would thrive in Arizona.

He was wrong about the camels, but his legend outlived

him.

Quartzsite keeps up its tradition of quirkiness with its

modern-day characters.  Paul, the bookseller at the far

east end of town, is a staple in the community,

responsible for a lot of community spirit, including hand-

drawing the town map that is sold to visitors.  He finds the

climate in Quartzsite to be just right for minimal attire, and he prefers to dress as lightly as possible.

All through our January stay in Quartzsite we had been watching the weather map on the back page of USA Today.  Everyday it

seemed that the people in Florida were without doubt warmer than the people in Arizona.  Mark's son was stationed in Jacksonville,

Florida, and we had lots of northern relatives who would be heading that way to thaw out during the winter.  It only made sense for

us to scamper over to the east coast too.  So we packed everything up, laid out our shorts in hopes of warmer weather, and drove

across country to northern Florida.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other blog posts from our RV travels to Quartzsite:

Our most recent posts:

More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.
New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff!!