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.
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.
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.
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.
We saw lots of beautiful Class A motorhomes decked out with great big solar power installations.
A cool custom bus conversion we came across looked like a fabulous way to go.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another one we noticed was not entirely identifiable.
At one point we found ourselves driving behind a Funny Car.
Out in the desert, the love of rollling wheels includes remote control ATVs that scurry around on the hard packed gravel between the rigs.
Others take to the sky for a bird’s eye view.
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!
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.
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.
Well, maybe that’s a little harsh. “My Indian Name is ‘Runs With Beer'” may be closer to the truth for many.
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.
And it’s a good thing too because, as another sign at the laundromat says…
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.”
Lots of grandmas and grandpas love their granddogs here, and a few love them to an extreme.
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.
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.
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?
Everyone raised their glasses in a toast to the great time we shared.
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.
If you have a buggy that rolls — or a tent you can pitch — join the RV party in Quartzsite, Arizona, next year!
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More info about Quartzsite, Arizona:
Other blog posts from our RV travels to Quartzsite:
- Quartzsite Lite (2022) 03/26/22
- Quartzsite RV Show – RV Stuff and So Much More! 01/30/16
- Quartzsite, Arizona – The RV Gathering Place 01/26/16
- The RV Show in Quartzsite AZ – More Than Just RVs! 02/07/15
- Sunset over RVs in Quartzsite AZ 01/24/15
- Quartzsite Arizona – RV Madness in the Desert! 01/21/15
- Fiery Sunsets and Interesting Folks in the Arizona Desert 01/15/09
- Quartzsite, AZ – Snowbird Roost 12/05/07
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Yup, spend your entire adult life, responsibilities, job pressures, that everyday grind. It is wonderful to reach that milestone, where you cash in on your hard work, and settle into a life of less junk more freedom.
Look forward to parking our rig in that desert 🙂
Yes indeed. It’s a great life!!
Mark and Emily , I really enjoy your wonderful site. you have so much to comment on. I especially liked the piece on copper mining and our public lands. I look at lots of sites and have not seen anyone else interested in this misuse of our lands. It is not only the RV’s but the fishermen, bike riders and miners, hikers, all using public lands that are going to be hurt by this if we keep looking the other way. There should be some way we can group together to combat this behavior of our leaders. Any way keep up the good work you guys are really needed.
Wow. Thank you so much, Chuck. It’s not easy to write about sensitive subjects like poor leadership and misuse of our public lands. Along with receiving a huge amount of support for the post I wrote about copper mining versus camping in Tonto National Forest (the article is here) I also got a shocking amount of very stinging criticism from fellow boondockers (of all people!) who thought I was making it all up. So, knowing that you value what I write means a tremendous amount to me. Ultimately, if we don’t speak up (and suffer the slings and arrows of the misinformed), there’s no chance for change. Thank you — most profoundly — for expressing your appreciation.
Just a simple thank you… from one of the “HitchHiker” fifth wheel gang. We enjoyed your company as well. Just wish you could have made our HH rig circle bigger (maybe next time?), but so glad you were able to make our group circle bigger for happy hour.
God bless, and Cheers!
It was a great time, Steve, and the champagne was a wonderful ending! Thanks for your eagles eyes on Vermont vs. New York!!
No eagle eye, just nothing that exciting happens in Vermont!
could anyone tell me how wwater is hauled from town to ones campsite.
My holding tank is very small.
Nancy, we use 6 gallon plastic jerry jugs to haul water from a reliable spigot to our trailer, and we carry four of those jugs full of water in the back of our truck. We refill our onboard fresh water tanks at the RV dump station when we empty our tanks, occasionally putting bleach in the fresh water tank to keep it relatively clean. We don’t drink the water from our RV holding tanks. Hope that helps. More “how to” RV boondocking tips here.
I was planning on staying out there for longer. Does it ever quiet down? My plans were from October-March or April. I wanted to spend the other time in NV and UT in the high desert.
It is very busy in January because of the RV show, and it is busy leading up to the show and following it. But it is very quiet in October and April. There isn’t a lot to do there when the show isn’t going on, so spending six months there might get boring. Luckily, there are many other places in Arizona that are fun to explore. Enjoy!
(responding 4 years later lol) I love the desert, and high desert. I love my alone time too. Never married and no children.. I have my fur babies. I wish there was a way for me to keep current job and camp though so I cannot go out there for 4 months like I had wanted to 4 years ago when writing this. I have a nice offroad scooter with a 25 mile range on it. I can’t ever get bored when I have my computer, an internet connection (starlink) and my games.
You will love Quartzsite and all the other desert camping spots in that region. There is lots of quiet time and solitude to be found if that’s what you’re looking for, and the offroad scooter will be a blast. Even if you can’t go for 4 months, just going for a week or two will be refreshing!!