The World’s Largest Parking Lot

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January 8, 2014

Every winter, hundreds of thousands of snowbirds with RVs descend on the tiny desert town of Quartzsite, Arizona.

Walking the displays at The Main Event. If you can’t find it at Quartzsite, then you don’t need it. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Walking the displays at The Main Event. If you can’t find it at Quartzsite, then you don’t need it. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For a few months, this dusty little place on I-10 morphs into what National Geographic calls The World’s Largest Parking Lot.

Quartzsite is famous for its seasonal swap meets, huge flea market, rock and gem shows, the Big Tent RV show, and numerous other gatherings.

When you come over the hills into the valley, it’s like a sea of white out there from the RVs parked all over the desert.

Many times I’ve tried to describe Quartzsite to people who haven’t been there, but it’s impossible for them to imagine.

As you descend the last pass into the valley, at first glance, it appears you’ve come across an unmapped city in the desert—there are thousands of small buildings spread out everywhere.

But then you realize that these are not buildings—they’re recreational vehicles of every type, size, and vintage. And wherever you look, you see them. It’s the Woodstock of the Snowbird set!

Tens of thousands from all over the United States and Canada winter here in one of the RV parks or on the vast areas of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) desert areas.

The BLM offers two ways to boondock in the Quartzsite area:

  • 14 day free pass on that designated land
  • Long Term Visitor Area (LTVA) just south of town

But, just where is this gem of a town?

Quartzsite is beyond Hope. Heading west toward Quartzsite, you’ll go beyond Hope, Arizona.

This sleepy little desert town of Quartzsite is located just 20 miles east of the California border (Colorado River) on Interstate 10.

The Quartzsite Improvement Association (QIA) recently announced the launch of a new website designed to keep RVers wintering in the Sonora Desert up-to-date about the various activities taking place in the Quartzsite area.

The new website, QIA Arizona, is the headquarters for the Pow Wow Rock & Gem Show and other community events throughout the winter snowbird season.

2014 QIA sponsored events include:

  • January 22-January 26, 2014: QIA Pow Wow
  • February 14-February 16, 2014: QIA Gold, Treasure & Craft Show
  • March 6-9, 2014:  Grand Gathering

grandgatheringOther activities at the QIA include bingo (Friday nights), dances (Saturday nights and a few others), shows and concerts, craft fairs (first Saturday of each month), pancake suppers (Wednesdays), and just good old fashion fun.

One of the events being promoted this winter is the 2014 Grand Gathering March 6 to 9 which organizers hope will become the world’s largest gathering of grandparents in one area.

“With more than 60 RV parks and 11,000 acres of BLM dispersed camping in the beautiful Sonoran Desert, Quartzsite is ATV friendly and a rock hounder’s paradise,” said Bernie Martin, a member of the all-volunteer Quartzsite Improvement Association.

For information about RV parks and campgrounds, check out Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory.


Quartzsite Improvement Association (QIA)

Address: 235 E. Ironwood Street, PO Box 881, Quartzsite, AZ 85346

Phone: (928) 927-6325


Worth Pondering… 

Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February. As the saying goes, “If you can’t find it in Quartzsite, you won’t find it anywhere.”

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If you enjoy these articles and want to read more on RV travels and lifestyle, visit my website: Vogel Talks RVing.

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1 comment

  1. Patti Hunziker

    Good to see this publicity.