Quartzsite, Arizona

Happy for some shade while visiting with friends Tom & Claudia. It was 80 degrees for our end of November visit.

If you are a retiree with an RV, you’ve probably heard of Quartzsite, Arizona. The tiny town of less than 4,000 permanent residents swells to over a million in the winter months. The town itself isn’t much to look at. At first glance, it is just a bunch of truck stops and fast food restaurants along I-10 twenty miles east of the Colorado River in Western Arizona. One is left wondering what the appeal is. We had heard about Quartzsite for years and we finally paid a brief visit after leaving Lake Mead. It was time to see if Quartzsite was worth the hype.

Nice mountain views from our campsite off Plomosa Road

Quartzsite lies on the La Posa Plain along Tyson Wash. The Dome Rock Mountains rise to the west and the Plomosa Mountains to the east. The area has a typical desert climate with less than 5 inches of annual precipitation and an average daily high in the 60s – 70s during the winter months. Reason #1 to love Quartzsite—fantastic weather.

One of the biggest draws to Quartzsite are the winter shows. The Desert Gardens Rock, Gem & Mineral Show runs 7 days a week during the months of January and February. Up to 2,000 vendors of rocks, gems, minerals, and fossils create one of the world’s largest open air flea markets. Undoubtedly the busiest time at Quartzsite is the last week of January when the area hosts the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show, commonly known as The Big Tent. An impressive number of vendors come with everything from coffee, food and cell phones to ATVs and RVs. Click here for the 2022 list of vendors. The Arizona Highway Departments estimates that a million or more people descend on Quartzsite during Big Tent week. Many RV groups, such as the Escapees and various owner groups, time their yearly gatherings to coincide with the Big Tent. Reason #2 to love Quartzsite—lots of people and lots of shopping. For us, this is actually a big strike against Quartzsite. We don’t care for people or shopping. Fortunately, we visited the end of November when the town was still relatively quiet.

Friends Tom & Claudia at Beer Belly’s Adult Day Care

If shopping and crowds aren’t your thing, numerous outdoor recreation opportunities can be found nearby. ATV trails, rockhounding sites, ghost towns, Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, and the Colorado River are all close by. There is also some interesting history in the area. Our friends Tom and Claudia were kind enough to drive us around and show us some of the sites. Reason #3 to love Quartzsite—variety of activities.

The Quartzsite Cemetery is an interesting stop

What do I think is the biggest reason to love Quartzsite? Dirt cheap camping. There are several RV parks in town, but the vast majority of RVers stay on BLM land that encircles the town. Short term visitors, like us, have several free BLM areas to choose from. We spent two nights north of town off Plomosa Road. There were a lot of RVs nearby, but everyone was spaced far apart and we found the area quite peaceful. Others, like our friends Tom and Claudia, stay at Quartzsite all winter at the La Posa Long Term Visitor Area (LTVA) just south of town. La Posa is one of several LTVAs managed by the BLM across Arizona and California. For just $180, RVers can stay continuously from September 15th to April 15th. Like many who spend winters at the LTVA, our friends love the sense of community and the warm winter temperatures.

One of the more unique and interesting sites near Quartzsite is the Bouse Fisherman Intaglio. Intaglios (geoglyphs) are typically gigantic human or animal figures drawn on the ground’s surface by Ancient peoples. There are over 300 in the American Southwest and Northern Mexico. It is times like this I wish I had a drone. The Fisherman was hard to make out from the ground, but he looks pretty cool from above.

So what did we think of Quartzsite? We really enjoyed our brief stay, but it isn’t an area we see ourselves spending much time in—at least not at this stage of our lives. It made a nice stopover on our way to SE Arizona and I could see using it as a layover stop again in the future. But there isn’t much right there for us as far as hiking and kayaking. And the January crowds would simply be too much for us. But for people like our friends, who are looking for amazing weather and a great sense of community on a retiree budget, it is perfect. We were grateful to Tom and Claudia for showing us their favorite hang out spots and their home in the desert.

The Adventure Continues

Be sure to join us next time as we arrive at Kartchner Caverns State Park in SE Arizona. And don’t forget to check out our Amazon RV and Adventure Gear recommendations. We only post products that we use and that meet the Evans Outdoor Adventures seal of approval. By accessing Amazon through our links and making any purchase, you get Amazon’s every day low pricing and they share a little with us. This helps us maintain this website and is much appreciated!

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2 Comments

  1. Tom Blocker says:

    Lusha, you sure did your homework for this one. I’ve spent multiple seasons in Q town and I still learned things from this post. Excellent job. You do an excellent job with your blogs my dear friend.
    I (Tom) really don’t care a lot about the crowds. However, Claudia has made a bunch of friends and enjoys a sense of community that I don’t think she’s ever enjoyed. Claudia meets weekly with several other women to play Mexican Train (dominoes). And from the stories Claudia tells me when she gets home I can say with certainty that she has a blast at these gatherings. However, I am not so much a people person but I do love my walks in the desert. There is much to explore here (e.g., KOFA and Palm Canyon). It is a unique place where a million dollar Class A might be parked next to a homemade school bus conversion. There’s even a bunch of gold mining going on here.
    Lusha did a fantastic job describing this very unique place. I’ve often called it a winter-long party for old people. Only the parties are generally over by 6pm. It’s rare to meet someone new and not find them to be very friendly. Most seek community.
    And Lusha is right, this place is not for everyone… Especially during the month of January when crowds peak.
    Thank you Lusha. You rock!

    1. Lusha says:

      Thank you so much Tom. As always, you are too kind. I’m still cracking up over Beer Belly’s Adult Daycare. And a party that ends by 6 is definitely our type of party. We did enjoy the scenery and sunsets there very much. And who doesn’t like FREE?? I know we will find ourselves stopping in again in November or December. Great to know we have friends there when we do! Thanks again for being such a fun tour guide.
      Lusha

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