Winter Escapes: Southwest Desert Snowbird Roosts

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October 18, 2008

You know what fall means. And it’s not just football season, raking leaves, getting out the woolies, and dusting off the storm windows.

It’s time to think southern latitudes. Migration season. Follow the birds. Get away before your holding tanks freeze up and the mountain passes clog up with snow.
If you are a first time snowbird, just thinking about it (it doesn’t take RVers long to figure out which direction to head in the winter), or even if you always go to the same winter roost, below and in following weeks’ blogs, are some of the places I’ve spent the snowy-blowy months and are worth checking out for yourself.

Quartzsite
The mother of all gem and mineral shows, flea markets, yard sales, and boondocker heavens. Quartzsite is the largest gathering of RVers in the world, spreading over several square miles of BLM land in the Arizona Sonora Desert 20 miles east of Blythe and the Colorado River on I-10. Originally just the site of a gem and mineral show, the number and size of shows has grown beyond count and so has the number of RVers, said to be nearly a million during the busy months of January and February. It’s crowded “downtown” where the shows and hook-up campgrounds are, but most desert rats head out into the surrounding desert to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVA) where you can circle the wagons and be as communal or as lone coyote as you wish.
Cost for a multi-month permit good at any BLM LTVA is $180, and you can stay or move between LTVA’s as you wish with this pass (there are three LTVAs around Quartzsite). A shorter 14-day permit is also available for $40. Near the LTVAs are 14-day limit areas that allow you to camp for free on BLM public lands. These areas are plainly marked, and you can get information at the BLM Field Office or LTVA. Permits can be purchased at the entrance station to each LTVA and includes all the amenities—clean clear skies, bright stars, rainless sunny days, spectacular sunsets, dry washes to explore, howling coyotes to sing you asleep, all the mesquite and saguaros you can count, and a dumpster, water, and dump station not far away. Day time highs from the mid-60s to low70s, nights down into the upper 30s to upper 40s.
For all you need to know about camping on BLM land go here. For a unique view of Quartzsite, see Mike Steffen’s entertaining blog: Quartzsite – The RV Mecca, or A Quartzsite survival Guide (Mike has been a writer, seminar lecturer, and visitor to and about Quartzsite since one of the area’s most famous residents, Arabian camel-driver Hadji Ali (Hi Jolly), was knee-high to a camel’s elbows.)
Visit also the great desert Web site, DesertUSA, which not only will tell you all you need to know about Quartzsite, but also about just about every location in the desert you might want to visit.
Next week: Winter Escapes II: Snowbirding Along the Colorado River

Leave a Reply

10 comments

  1. Fred

    Bob, I see you are a multi-talented blogger. Do you go to Quartzsite?

    To quote you;

    “LTVA and includes all the amenities—clean clear skies, bright stars, rainless sunny days, spectacular sunsets, dry washes to explore, howling coyotes to sing you asleep, all the mesquite and saguaros you can count, and a dumpster, water, and dump station not far away.”

    So, what do people do for power if their length of stay at LTVA or 14 day-stay-area exceeds more than a few days?

    Fred

  2. Tex

    Now you are heading on the more interesting road; blogging about RV stuff. See there are no hard feelings, I still read your blogs. I am looking forward to Winter Escapes Part ll.

  3. Bob Difley

    Fred – Your question is a basic one, and a good one. I decided to make it the subject of my next blog (this Saturday, 10/24 instead of the Colorado River, which I will do the following week). Look for an answer to your question then.

  4. Bob Difley

    Tex – Glad to have you still around. See the answer to Fred’s question (above) to see the direction I am heading in, at least for a while. In the future, though, I may decide to go back to green, oil, and global warming, just to have a good debate with you again. Thanks for your comments, and welcome. Bob

  5. Fred

    Bob, I am particularly looking forward to the subject of power or lack thereof while boondocking.

    I want to know about true-experience solar PV power with actual usable sunlight per day. I know the logic is, that whatever wattage is removed from the batteries in a 24 hour day must be replaced by PV charging of those batteries the next day.

    I have a problem deciphering the wattage used from 12 volt items verses the wattage used from 120 volt items.

    Considering that an inverter is used, does the wattage used from 120 volt items have to be multiplied by 10 to be the true wattage removed from the 12 volt batteries? I hope this will be cleared up in the next rv.net blog as you promised.

    Fred

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  7. Rob

    Just started reading these Blogs the other day. Looks as though there should be lots of interesting and informative articles to amuse and inform!
    Keep the information flowing!

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