The beast relaxes at her free spot in Dome Rock

Views to the horizon

For the past several days we’ve been boondocking in one of my favorite spots, next to one of my favorite stories. “The beast” is most happily parked in our own little wilderness next to one of the biggest and oddest crowd convergences in the country. We’re in Quartzsite, AZ and being here in winter is to become part of a living phenomenon.

Quartzsite is your typical lonely ad-hoc desert town. A wild, dry plot of desert with a mere 3,000 or so inhabitants it distinguishes itself mostly by being a “hot-spot” of gem-hunters and backs that up with a slew of odd-ball desert lovers and  no less than 9 major mineral shows each year.

But once a year in winter something extraordinary happens. Drawn by a unique crowd psychology that would puzzle even Sigmund Freud, hundreds of thousands of RVers converge onto Quartzsite BLM land and create a living, breathing, pulsating community of snowbirds. It’s a boondocking Mecca and likely the biggest collection of dry-camping rigs in the world.

Early build-up of RVers on the LaPosa LVTA

Quartzsite has adapted to the influx and offers several huge LTVA (long-term) boondocking areas for a mere $180 for the season (7 months). It’s one of the best winter deals around!

One of hundreds of temporary shops that set-up in the area during winter

But that’s not the end of it. With the coming of the wheelers’ begins a madness of enterprise. Out of the blank canvas of the desert there arises  a mish-mash of colorful activities with craft shows, line-dancing groups, pot-luck dinners, rallies, group meetings and music jams. You’ll have RVers selling knick-knacks from their rigs and endless rows of “rummage” shops offering every part, bit and parcel you could imagine. Even the major RV dealerships get in on the deal hosting a massive show in early Jan each year. It’s a crazy rush of spontaneous free-livin’ society at its’ best!

But it’s still early days yet. Here in mid-November the collection of RVers is only just starting and we’ve still got plenty of space to ourselves. We’re parked outside the “main drag” in one of 5 designated free 14-day limit parking areas (Dome Rock) with our next neighbour well out of sight. Here we recreate our very first boondocking experience , including our most wonderful loo escapades, albeit with 2 years more on the road and a far better toolbox. And to top it all off we’re part of the phenomenon, baby!

Gorgeous desert sunrise at Dome Rock

Quartzsite is a mineral hot-spot

Paul exchanges books at the free book-swap in the local laundromat

Knick-knacks on sale. Snowboard in the desert anyone?

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29 Responses to Boondocking Mecca – Quartzsite, AZ

  1. Marsha says:

    We were only on the road three months before we HAD to hit the “Q.” It was #1 on Paul’s bucket list. I have no idea why. He loved it. I was fine with it for a week. We did meet so many neat people that we are still friends with. One of the highlights for me is Paul Winer’s Bookstore. He has so many books; I was overwhelmed. But, he knew where every book I asked for could be found. Of course, I tried to look straight ahead while he spoke to me…LOL

    • libertatemamo says:

      LOL!! I have to admit that bookstore is just one of those great little “oddities” that I love about Quartzsite. Don’t know if I could spend 6 months here, but sure is fun for a visit.
      Nina

  2. rommel says:

    book swap in a laundromat … lol …the first photo looks so awesome. love your blog.

  3. Sandie says:

    We’ll be back that way in January. Just one of those things we have to do each year. Drawn like a moth to the flame.

  4. kayjulia says:

    Still on my bucket list maybe this year :) Although so many places call to me like Hank Snows “I’ve been everywhere” song, I want to have been everywhere !

    • libertatemamo says:

      It’s a fun stop and definitely worth going even if you just go once. But I know what you mean about that bucket list…mine is getting longer by the minute. Nina

  5. Mary says:

    Beautiful photos! We’ll be there in January – again. We usually stay at Scaddan Wash with a group for the RV Show week but before I saw today’s post by you, had thought of trying Dome Rock. How’s the “road” getting into the area? Do you have to drive down into any wash indentations? I know it’s gravel/dusty but is it a somewhat flat road? Have a good stay and don’t forget to visit the bookstore!

    • libertatemamo says:

      The road is great! Dome Rock is paved and you can camp on either side of there without going too far off-road. Dirt roads are all firm and no need to drive into washes unless you go way back into the hills. The east-side of the BLM is flat and could probably accomodate a fairly large-size group. the west-side (in the hills) has smaller sites, but could still accomodate some smaller multi-rig groups. The nice thing about the area is that it’s further back from Hwy 10 than Scaddan Wash so it’s alot quieter and feels way more remote. I’ll be writing a full review with pics so stay tuned for that…
      Nina

  6. jil mohr says:

    We are really not a fan of this after doing it once…for us once was enough…having said that we have done it twice….:)

  7. Jerry B. says:

    I’m anxious to hear more of your take on this experience. We’ve never been there yet, seems like there is always something else doing but maybe this year we might find some time in Jan to take a trip there.

    • libertatemamo says:

      You know I really enjoy the experience…for exactly what it is. Boondocking in the wide desert with a hodgepodge of rigs, activity and rummage shops all round. It’s not fancy, it may be crowded (esp. in Jan) and it may not be for everyone, but I love this kind of diversity and simply throw myself into the moment when I’m here. There’s enough space that you can find your own lonely spot even in the middle of the big “show”. We’re thinking of coming back for Jan too….
      Nina

  8. Luke Alexander says:

    Burning Man for us Baby Boomers! We will be in for January and February. I love Q for about two months of gravel, then it is time to get back to the real world.

    • libertatemamo says:

      You know Burning Man is hot on our “must do” list too!! I’ve wanted to go for years, but haven’t made it yet. Pets do make it difficult. For free-wheelin’ expression I don’t think Burning Man can be matched. I’ll get there eventually!
      Nina

  9. TheBobster says:

    Love the pictures… maybe sometime in the future we can spend some time at Q ourselves.

  10. Sunny says:

    First time visiting your blog. So very informative. Just bought my first RV in August and trying to learn all I can.

  11. Jeff says:

    In Tucson now, heading to Palm Springs for a week in early December. After that a few days in Q then back to Tucson for Christmas. We love the desert, the quiet, and the dark.

  12. I’ve heard about Quartzsite, but I’m bummed that we never made it out there. The whole community aspect of it is really cool, and you can’t beat a free – and warm! – boondocking spot for the winter!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yet another thing you’ve got to come back for :) But you guys are livin’ the dream with your international travel too, so might be a few years before you get around to Q again.
      Nina

  13. Rachel Thompson says:

    I will be coming to the big Q , next winter after 3 years full timing. We d8id Fl and south Tx, fFLagain this year. I have a question where and how do you dump your waste tanks, what does it cost and where do you get water. I’m planing on an extended stay.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Hi Rachel,
      There is a dump station with water in town, at the RV Pit Stop. For the water, I’d probably advise filling up before you come since the Q water is notoriously hard, but you can get it there.
      Here’s a list of some of the dumps around town:
      http://www.sanidumps.com/rvdumpscity.php?citynum=3375&city=Quartzsite&cityradius=1

      Nina

      • Rachel Thompson says:

        wow, thanks so much for getting back to me. That solves the waste tank problem. We may stay all winter so for water we best get a really good water filer for the hard water . Thanks again!

        • libertatemamo says:

          Well if you’re staying the season you should buy an LTVA pass ($180 for the season) which gives you access to water & dump at the La Posa South LTVA area. Definitely the way to go for longer stays!
          Nina

  14. […] actually been to Quartzsite several times before, but this is the first year we’ve hit the “big show” right at its peak. There […]

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