Calm before the big show...sunrise at Quartzsite!

Calm before the big show…sunrise at Quartzsite!

Once a year, beyond the bounds of reason, thousands of RVs all converge in the same place. The spot is a small, dusty nondescript desert town of ~3,000 people in the SW of Arizona. Under normal circumstances you might drive by without even noticing it’s there, but come January the transformation of a desert phoenix occurs.  The RV’s come, and not just a few of them either…but in the hundreds and thousands! They pack and populate the desert boonies like a giant ant colony, creating a massive sprawl of boondocking RV’s as far as the eye can see.


The biggest RV gathering on EARTH! This fabulous pic was taken by IVAN who graciously allowed me to post it on the blog.

Vendors aisles outside the big tent

Vendors aisles outside the big tent

The town is Quartzsite, AZ and it’s the biggest RV gathering on earth! What follows is a feast of sellers, flea-markets, rummage-sales, gem shows, artists, professionals and every knick-knack shack you can possibly imagine. Although there are people here for many weeks before and after, the “big show” officially runs around the last 2 weeks of January. During this time a giant tent (creatively known as the “big tent”) is raised in the very center of town, the desert becomes a massive ad-hoc parking lot and vendors cram the streets.

Shop in the day, and sunset at night...yeah, I like!

Shop in the day, and sunset at night…yeah, I like!

Now, I’ve heard alot of people say they can’t stand Quartzsite and I can certainly understand that viewpoint. There are people and cars everywhere, enough shopping to overwhelm even the most dedicated rummage-lover, and the whole thing is rather staged and crazy. But if you take your time to find a decent boondocking spot and embrace the show for it for what it is, it is SO MUCH FUN!

I mean, for starters here’s just a few of the things you can do during the show:

Checking out the rummage sales

Checking out the rummage sales

This unique rig is run on veggie oil and part of a roaming artist's colony

This unique rig is run on veggie oil and part of a roaming artist’s colony

Panning for gold!

Panning for gold demo…cool!

1/ Rummage Sales Galore – there are masses of large “shops” selling buckets of knick knacks all around town. Looking for that special drill bit? Or perhaps an RV switch? Or some kind of collapsible kitchen or outdoor equipment? Or that weird RV dohickey thing you can’t find anywhere else? You WILL find it here…somewhere.

2/ Art, Crafts & Gems – even before the official Gem Fest at the end of Jan there are massive slews of stores selling individual arts, wood carvings, rocks, gems, fossils, jewelry, unique pieces…you name it. Some are nomadic “communities” that come in and sell their stuff together, others are commercial ventures, or tribal shops. It’s ALL here.

3/ RV Repairs & Upgrades – Looking to upgrade your suspension? Get that windshield replaced? New awnings? Solar? Satellite TV? Not only can you find the shop here, but they will come out into the desert boonies to your site to do the work. Pretty nifty!

4/ People Watching & Activities – Perhaps you’d like to learn how to pan for gold? Or hang and listen to some music at the Belly Bar? Meet an author? Eat some BBQ?  Get your teeth whitened (I’m not kidding)? Somewhere around here all of that is happening.

5/ Social Get-Togethers – No matter who you are, or what kind of group you would like to be part of they are ALL here. I went over to the Monaco iRV2 group for an AM get-together (even met some fellow Danes there!), had our buddies Jil&Tom from the Escapees boomers come over yesterday (in fact, these were folks we met our first few months of RVing in Utah in 2010 and just saw again for the first time since then!), had Ivan&kittyHailey come over for a visit (we met his kitty, yeah!), and are planning to see some other folks later this week. No matter if you’re single, alternative, young, old, LGBT, or even nudist there is a group for you!

We’ve actually been to Quartzsite several times before, but this is the first year we’ve hit the “big show” right at its peak. There are multiple RV parks in town, but most RVers chose to boondock in the massive swarfs of BLM land around Quartzsite, and our fav spot is one of the (relatively) lesser-visited 14-day free areas called Dome Rock just west of town. We set-up shop here on Tuesday and in the past few days we’ve been joined by several friends creating a mini-gathering of nomads in our little spot as well as some excellent happy hour’s and sunset-watching moments.

Alex gets new awning toppers at our boondocking site

Alex gets new awning toppers at our boondocking site

Happy Hour at the Wheelingit site!

Happy Hour at the Wheelingit site!

Our mini-gathering of rigs. That's Alex&Ellen on the right, Sue&Dave on the left and us plus Suzie&Gary in the background.

Our mini-gathering of rigs. That’s Alex&Ellen on the right, Sue&Dave on the left and us plus Suzie&Gary in the background.

We’ll be staying here until (at least) the beginning of next week, so if anyone is in the area you’re welcome to come by. In the meantime I will be SHOPPING…and sipping :)

Just another great desert sunset

Just another great desert sunset

Laundry today or nakes tomorrow...I can relate

Laundry today or naked tomorrow…I can relate

Polly plays with her BEST pal Lewis

Polly plays with her BEST pal Lewis

Hats anyone?

Hats anyone?

African carvings?!

African carvings?!

LED bulbs are VERY popular

LED bulbs are VERY popular

My new COOL shades!!

My new COOL shades!!

And another sunset!

And another sunset!


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27 Responses to The Biggest RV Gathering On Earth! Quartzsite, AZ

  1. jsathe says:

    We were there on Tuesday. Drove up from Yuma. What an experience.

  2. jil mohr says:

    great time yesterday….nice to meet your friends…..loved the shades…

  3. You have explained… What all the talk about Quartzsite is about?.. the pictures are great! I’m excited to experience Quartzsite, Arizona when we retire. :)

  4. Everything you said about Quartzsite is TRUE. deSanford

  5. I helped the economy by purchasing a new slide cover, and a new Magellan Roadmate for RVs.

  6. Ray Burr says:

    We just rolled in a couple hours ago, wow! Its a little overwhelming. :)

  7. Allen says:

    Our plan is in place. Donna & I will be on the road to all these great places and events in less than two years. You are an inspiration motivating me to make ready for life on the road!

  8. We had a great time in Q, too bad we missed partying with you. Going in with a positive attitude and finding our little piece of desert made our attendance to the biggest RV gathering so much fun and be a part of it. It was not as bad as we thought it might be. Continue to enjoy your stay.

  9. John & Karla Coley says:

    Less than 2 years till we will be FTing got the truck and new 5er, love reading your adventures. Keep it up maybe one day our paths will cross.

  10. lynne says:

    Thanks for posting this…we were at Dome Rock this time last year and I bet we will be back next year. Missing all the craziness too much!
    If you see a bunch of Casitas and Escapes camping together, throw them a wave from me.

  11. placestheygo says:

    Sounds like you’re having a wonderful time. Leaving the crowd for the quiet of the desert has to help.

    So glad Polly has her buddy for a few days. She must be just thrilled.

    Love the new shades!

  12. Sherry says:

    It does look overwhelming. SO many people all in one place. I hate to shop but this looks like a great place to get things done that one needs done at perhaps better prices??? I wonder if I’d chance getting solar in Quartzite. Keep posting, you might bring me around.

    • libertatemamo says:

      You know even tho’ there are a fair few guys offering Solar at Q, I’m not sure I would get it done here unless you’re planning to install yourself. I’m veeeery picky on solar installation and my personal preferences are either AM Solar or HandyBob himself up in Montanna. Still, it’s fun to see all the offerings.

  13. Early Retirement Journey says:

    Our neighbors just returned from Quartzsite. I was outside, helping to wash down our rig from a recent beach trip, and stopped to scratch my head when they drove up and told me where they’d been. Now I not only get it, I totally want to do it! Reaching for the 2014 calendar now . . .

    • libertatemamo says:

      We’ve found a bunch of little useful knick-knacks here that we couldn’t find anywhere else. Already spent too much money haha…but the deals, if you take time to find them…are good!

  14. Janet says:

    Thanks for all the great Q info!! Got to get there in the future.

  15. kudy says:

    Wow, this event looks awesome! I started following your blog a few weeks ago, and reading what you write makes me want to retire into an RV really badly! Thanks.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Well, happy to have you along as a blog follower. It’s an addictive lifestyle this…once you start it’s tough to stop!

  16. Arryn says:

    Looks like grand fun. Some of my favorite sunrises and sunsets were on my Arizona visit.
    The mornings had the added benefit odd the sweet desert flowers opening and is a scent like no other. Great goal.

  17. Dave & Diane says:

    We were in Q for the Big Tent Event for the first time this year. Like you said,, it will be what you make of it. We enjoyed it. And Dome rock is a nice spot.

  18. […] we’ve made it to Quartzsite, the biggest RV gathering on earth. Every year around the last two weeks of January hundreds of thousands of RVers come from all over […]

  19. Bonnie Harris says:

    We are looking to have some remodel work done, we are in California so we could go to oregon or to quartzite for the work wondering if you have and opinion and a recommendation for either place.

  20. […] one of the lesser popular boondocking areas, so it tends to have decent space. However around the annual RV show (last 2 weeks in Jan), the area is popular and can become very heavily used. The only other minor […]

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