By Bob Difley
Even RVers in the West who haven’t yet learned the value of solar panels or spent a single night witehout hookups have heard of Quartzsite. And some oldtimers have yet to visit however, but the saying goes that if you are an RVer, you will visit Quartzsite at least once before you retire your horses to pasture. It is an experience near the top of the RVer’s lifetime To Do list.
Quartzsite’s wide open desert with plentiful camping possibilities on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land lures hundreds of thousands of snowbirds to the weather-friendly desert in winter. Most RVers call this kind of camping boondocking, i.e. “in the boonies” though in Quartzsite, you could end up as crowded as a hook-up campground. But the beauty of it is that the choice of where and how sociable you want to be is yours.
The options include groups of friends circling the wagons much like the early pioneers did on the Oregon Trail. Though the pioneers chose this method mainly to protect themselves from marauding Indians, today’s RVers seek social camaraderie instead, putting tables, chairs, and a communal campfire in the “hub” of the circled wagons. You can choose to camp in close to town
and have neighbors, or move further out and have your group area all to yourselves, a definite advantage if you are nudists or practice strange rituals or ceremonies.
Several hard compacted dirt roads lead off into the far reaches of the LTVAs where campsites of
hard “desert pavement,” resembling tile or cobblestone paving capable of supporting even the heaviest rigs, are readily available. Camping (as in any of the seven LTVAs in California or Arizona) costs $180 for a pass for the season, September through April, or $40 for two weeks. You can move freely between LTVAs within the pass period.
The other option is to avoid the designated LTVAs and find your own campsite. You will not have to pay the LTVA fees, though the BLM limits your camping period to two weeks, then you have to move at least 25 miles from your previous location. You can take your chances on staying longer but you risk getting a $50 ticket (maybe more since the last time I was ticketed).
Learn more about desert camping with my new eBook, Snowbird Guide to Camping and Boondocking in the Southwestern Deserts.
Thanks, Bob. I forgot that “Google Images” is such a great resource! As a result of that search, I’ve “seen” Quartzsite, “taken a bike trip” across the southern states in another blog, and now I know what an LTVA is. I feel encouraged. I’m traveling to the Grand Canyon in mid-April this year and probably won’t be at Quartzsite – but there are still more trips to be taken!
“OK, I now have a feeling for where Q is but what are the time frames evryone is talking about and where do you get the permits and locations where you can park it?”
“So, when you use an abbreviation, please define it somewhere in your post.”
“Do you mean that people camp just wherever they feel like it outside of town?”
Quartzsite is not a single entity, but a small town out in the desert where RVers collect each winter to do RVing stuff. The land immediately in and around the town is privately owned, and the owners have taken advantage of the “Quartzsite phenomena” to establish campgrounds, organized flea markets where they sell booths, tent shows (like the gen and mineral shows), open air markets, etc. Outside of town, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages the public land and have set up designated camping areas called Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVA) that have restrooms, a dump station, and trash containers. Camping in one of the LTVA (there are three around Quartzsite) costs $180 for the season from mid September until mid April. You can also buy a two week permit for $40 and are permitted to travel between LTVA. There is a host at each LTVA who can sell you a permit or you can get one at any of the BLM regional offices (none in Quartzsite). Within the LTVA you can camp anywhere. It will all make sense to you once you see it. If you search Google Images for Quartzsite you will find photos of the camping arrangement, both from ground level and aerial. Also, once you get there, just about anyone–and especially the camp hosts–will be able to answer all your follow-up questions. La Posa LTVA is just south of the center of town on route 95 on both sides of the road. You will see signs.
Hey, we newbies need better descriptions than LTVA – maybe “long term vacation areas”? I hate having to guess: it makes me feel unwelcome. So, when you use an abbreviation, please define it somewhere in your post.
I’ve looked up Quartzite, AZ, on “Streets and Trips” and it appears to be a small town with organized streets and commercial campgrounds. Google Earth clarifies things a bit – even has a picture of “a lake in the LTVA” but still doesn’t define that abbreviation.
Do you mean that people camp just wherever they feel like it outside of town?
OK, I now have a feeling for where Q is but what are the time frames evryone is talking about and where do you get the permits and locations where you can park it?
DICK "MR. HAPPY' MORRIS
WE SPEND ONE TO TWO WEEKS IN QUARTZSITE EVERY YEAR. WE LIKE IT SO MUCH WERE GOING TO STAY THREE OR FOUR MONTHS NEXT SEASON. THE TOWN HAS LESS THAN A 1000 PEOPLE IN THE SUMMER BUT WHEN IT COOLS DOWN THERE ARE UP TO 300,000. MILLION DOLLAR RV’S TO OLDER CAMPERS BUT EVERYONE THERE FOR THE SAME REASONS. ONE OF THE NICEST THINGS IS YOU DON’T SEE ANY TRASH LAYING AROUND OR BLOWING IN THE WIND. PEOPLE CLEAN UP AND EVEN PICKUP AFTER THERE DOGS AND THEY DON’T HAVE ANY NEIGHBORS`. THERE IS A LOT OF STUFF TO DO. TRY IT, YOU WILL LIKE IT.
eeing Bob hasn’t answered you I will. Quartzite is on …..
Prob the reasion that Bob hasn’t answered any of us is because he is still behind the moutain…. pick’n wild flowers … and run’n naked throught the fields… oh my that leaves a immage that is kinda …pooooo…
If you want real gems and neat rocks.. etc… Tucson az has a show going on about the same time. Much better … and warmer toooooo…
Quartszite is a annual visit for us too see old friends and meet new ones. Not to mention each visit we find new treasures to drag home!
see ya there!
Thomas got his directions reversed. Q is about 30 miles east of Blythe CA.!!
It sits on I-10 and Highway 95.
About 90 miles north of Yuma.
As Bob says, every RV’er should have the Q experience at least once! You’ll either love it or hate it – the number of RV’ers and the mass of humanity checking out the venders – but should love the sunshine and warmth and the opportunity to park close to other RV’ers or get totally isolated, or at least a good distance from each other!
Go and bask it in!
Seeing Bob hasn’t answered you I will. Quartzite is on US 10 Far west Arizona .About 30 miles west of Blythe California
I have read about Quartzsite before – but exactly where is it? Is it just a name for desert camping or is it a place.?? And what state is it in? Thanks for any info.
I spent 2 weeks is Quartzite in 2004. Everybody should do it once like you say. It’s nuts( an enjoyable nuts) The cell would ring but we were parked west of town behind a (mountain) and had to go out to the highway to make the call. The swap meets,Garage sales or as we call it in Wisconsin Flea Markets were the best. I found things for the camper you would never find elsewhere. The big tent. Unbelievable. Going to try to get there in time this year(for the hellabloo) but not leaving home until the 15th. You didn’t say what day the RV show started and I think it is the 3rd weekend. If so i’ll miss it . For those reading this, camp in the desert for a day of so if you never have. The peace and quite are beautiful. You can drive most anywhere and when you’re done you can go to town and dump and get fresh water at a company that does nothing but that, so you are not that far from services