8 Tips For Shopping & Boondocking At Quartzsite, AZ
So, we’re still hanging at Q. The “big RV show” officially ended yesterday, and 2 of the rigs in our group have gone (sniff, sniff…Polly’s BEST PAL Lewis is sorely missed), but we decided to hang out for a few more days of free camping while we figure out our next move. Alot of the big RV social groups are gone, but there are still a bunch of vendors in the streets and a fair few rigs in the desert gearing up for the massive Gem & Crafts Show that starts this week.
As for us? We’ve been hanging at our lovely site, shopping the rummage sales, and socializing, and all this despite a few days of rain (thankfully gone now). On the $$ side we ended up spending ~$240 at the show (which was rather reserved of us, I thought) most of which was stuff we never knew we needed (isn’t that always the case?). Being a rather dedicated rummage shopper and having spent a solid week in the trenches I can say there are things worth buying at Q and things I would stay away from. I figured it would be interesting to share my perspective on it:
1/ LED Lights -> Worth it IF You’re Picky!
LED lights were a HUGE draw this year and the most busy booths. I love the power-savings from LED, but I’m very particular about light quality and LED’s can vary ALOT (color/brightness etc.) between vendors even with exactly the same specs. They’re not the cheapest in Q (the cheapest LED lights you can get are on eBay directly from China), but here you can see a massive selection and try out the different kinds/colors in your rig before you finalize your buy. After looking at many, many LEDs we finally found the perfect mood light for one of our decorative fittings, and our neighbors (Alex&Ellen) were able to get a bulk deal to re-do their entire rig.
2/ Rummage Sales -> Worth it!
If you’re patient enough to rummage around the big boxes of stuff and diligently compare prices you can definitely find something that’s worth your while. We got a new 9’x18′ RV matt for $59 (at least $10-$30 cheaper than anywhere else I’ve seen, including online) and a brand new aluminum step for the same price (again, at least $10-$30 cheaper than the general market). We also snagged a mallet for $2, an adjustable/collapsable rake for $6 and some electrical fittings for $0.20 a piece. Most of the stores sell similar stuff, but prices can vary alot so looking around will save you money.
3/ Inexpensive Hats, Gloves & Microfiber Cloths -> Worth It!
This kind of leads on from #2, but there’s something particular about hats, gloves and microfiber/cleaning/dishwasher cloths in Q. For some reason the vendors love them and there are simply NO END of stores selling these things at the big show. You won’t find any high-end stuff here, but if you’re looking for an inexpensive buy and you want to see/feel/try/compare then you’ve got it all right here.
4/ Special Deals on Suspension Upgrades -> Worth it!
Many of the big vendors (Hendersons Line-Up, Brazel’s RV Performance, Redlands Truck etc.) will do special “show only” deals on suspension or specific RV upgrades. Often these will be many hundreds less than what the vendors would offer in their shop. We haven’t done any ourselves, but several of the folks in the Monaco iRV2 group have taken advantage of these deals in the past and rave about them. If you’re in the market for a suspension upgrade these are most definitely worth it!
5/ Solar Installation -> No….not, my choice
There were several vendors selling solar at Q this year, and although I’m sure many of them are fine, it would not be my choice to do an installation here. I feel you can get better prices elsewhere by selecting your own components and, given how many poor solar installations are on the market, it’s worth finding the best-qualified installers to do it.
6/ Novelty Kitchen & Home Gadgets -> Mostly no
You’ll see a ton of shops selling novelty kitchen & home gadgets (the “wonder whisk”, the “grill topper”, the “magic salsa maker”) which are more marketing than function in my mind. Most of these things are something you’ll buy and then use maybe once. We don’t have space for excess stuff like this in our rig and try not to get suckered into the buy.
7/ WiFi & Electrical -> Mostly No
Surprisingly there’s very poor selection of WiFi/amplifier/antenna or electrical stuff in Quartzsite. We only saw one WiFi booth and a few small boxes of electrical knick-knacks in some of the rummage shops (mostly connectors, although we did find one nifty 1 to 3-plug 12V strip), but otherwise nothing that caught our eye. If you’re in the market for electrical stuff this ain’t the place.
8/ Boondocking -> Definitely Worth It!
If you come to Q, you just gotta go boondocking! Not only is it part of the whole experience, but there are massive areas for any-sized rig and you’ll have no problem finding a site. I’ve mentioned our fav location (Dome Rock) before, but there are actually 9 separate areas you can boondock around Q for the big show. Five of these (Plomosa Road, Dome Rock, Hi Jolly, Scadden Wash, Road Runner) are free 14-day camping spots with no facilities. The other four (La Posa North, La Posa West, La Posa South, and La Posa Tyson Wash) are paid Long Term Visitor Areas ($40 for 2 weeks or $180 for 7 months) with limited facilities (trash, dump, vault toilets). You can get as close or as far from the main show as you’d like. Some of the closest boondocking sites are literally walking distance from the big tent, but they are also very crowded. The further you get from the show the more space you’ll have.
On social side we’ve had a bunch of visits from various blog readers (so fun!) and been around seeing friends at their various boondocking spots around town. We’ll probably hang for another couple of days before moving on to some (as yet) undisclosed location).
So, for those of you who’ve been here…what do YOU think is worth buying?
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Do you ride your bike, walk or drive a car to the big tent…wasn’t sure on the distance? We’ll be there next year…now I’m in the know for my shopping plan :O)
We drove our car mostly because we were shopping and needed to lug stuff back, but our site (Dome Rock) is only ~3 miles from town so biking is possible. There are boondocking areas much closer (walking distance) to the big tent, but they are also much more crowded. Still if you want to be right next to the action you definitely can.
Is it best to bring a rolling shopping cart? Just wondering if I should invest in one for the coming 2016 show?
I don’t really think you need one, but I’ve seen folks that pull along those collapsible carts. We often carry a small backpack when we walk and shop around.
It was worth it to drive up from Yuma to find you guys and say hi! Really enjoyed meeting you both (and Polly of course). I have sent you an email with a bunch of links to some of the places we talked about.
Adios for now!
P.S. Nina, I think you might look rather fetching in the turban though. Kinda Retro-Hollywood Glam. 😉
Nice to meet you too!
We picked up tons of bargains the year we were there. I will confused that I did not buy one of the bundles of bars…the ones that are 10 for $5. Just wasn’t sure if they would really work…hehe
This really is a rummage-shoppers paradise. If you like finding little bargins it’s alot of fun.
Yes, don’t do solar there! We did it once years ago and the installer was drunk. Yikes! Needless to say…we ended up having to make some “adjustments” later on.
Jil Mohr says
How could u not forget the magic tape? And i loved the plastic bag savers…
Great to see you guys…
I DO love the Rescue Tape…although I’m not sure I’d go for the bag savers hehe…just me tho’
Box Canyon Blogger, from Lovely Ouray, Colorado says
Good to know on the Solar part… I was considering checking that out.
Yeah, I just wouldn’t be comfortable recommending anyone here. Personally I would direct folks to AM Solar (Oregon), Handybob himself (Montanna, altho’ I hear he does come SW in winter) or perhaps Solar Mike (slabs).
Lee and Shelia says
I was waiting for the classic line “But Wait There’s More” in your blog. We have a few friends that go every year and stay at La Posa South, we aere going to go this year but sold our MH. Oh well we will be there next year in our View Profile 24G. (We go to Iowa end of March to pick it up.) Loooks and sounds like you had a great time (when don’t you!!!!!.) Thanks for sharing as usual. Drive/Ride safe where your next adventure takes you. Ouestion for you Nina do you drive the rig? Just wondering. TTFN
YES I definitely drive the rig..in fact I LOVE it and have encouraged women to take up driving several times on the blog. Even made a little video out of it:
On The Road Again And Girls At The Wheel
The Lowe's RV Adventures says
We were disappointed with the WIFI selection, too bad Millenicom was not there so we forego that one. We did have good deals on our LED which we bought not from the big tent but from the vendors outside the RV show itself. We passed on the Solar Panel, we figured we need to do more research on it. It was worth being there no doubt.
Totally agree. I think there’s a huge opportunity here for either Millenicom or 3GStore. Not much selection at all.
I used to visit Q for major bead buying. If I go anymore, it’s mostly just to look and a couple of RV things.
I did notice lots of interesting bead shops in the area. Not a beader myself, but I can see how this would be a great spot for it.
Thanks for a great “close up” view of the Q! Sure would like to be there instead of here in the rain and cold.
Hope it warms up in Eugene soon!
John and Kathy Huggins says
After 3 trips to Q, we found better prices at the Yuma flea markets, all 3 times. But we still had a blast in the desert!
I’ve heard alot about the Yuma markets, but haven’t yet checked them out. They’re on the list!
Linda Sand says
I go park in the desert with various groups of friends. Never have gone to the big tent. Can’t imagine anything worth me making that effort with my mobility challenges. My friends come back with all sorts of things which mostly make me wonder why? But they have bigger rigs than I do so they can give space to things I can’t. I did buy a sun umbrella for my chair one year but that wasn’t in the tent area so a friend was able to drive me right to that vendor’s display.
The big tent has most of the “large” vendors, but it does get very crowded. The best thing there was the LED stores IMHO.
Rattlesnake Joe says
Last year under the big tent I found just the thing I always wanted. It was two solar panels that fit in a protective suit case with a 25 foot electrical cord that hooked up to my house battery on my little Casita travel trailer. A charger was included and part of the panel. It was 90 watts of solar power to charge my battery and it worked so good. I could park my trailer in the shade and put my panels in the sun for total solar charging. The Kit was $395.00 the name of the company was CEA Solar right here in Arizona and the owner Jim is so nice he comes out and demonstrates the set up at Dome Rock. Hope he comes this year I will endorse his product whole heartedly. This suitcase model is great, when traveling just unplug from the battery wind the cord up and put inside the protective suit case. The panels are supported by a spongy foam rubber and are very well protected from breakage inside the aluminum case.
How neat! Thanks for sharing! Didn’t see that that contraption this year, but it’s very possible I missed some stuff in the big tent.
I don’t have much room for gadgets, but last year (before the show) I changed all my lighting to LEDs purchased from a vendor in town. It’s been 14 months and only one has started to dim. I thought the prices were pretty good and he had time to explain everything to me. I’ve been very happy with them. 🙂
Glad you found some good ones. The guy we bought ours from this year has a 2-year warranty on the LEDs, so we’re pretty happy with the quality. My original LEDs (that I bough online ~3 years ago) are still as nice as the day we bought them.
We’re still hanging in Q and enjoying a little solitude in the desert (far southeast) now that it’s emptied out. I found a great hat and shades that I eventually would have purchased elsewhere and we finally got one of those extendable cleaning things with different attachments to clean the exterior of the rig. No trouble resisting ALL the other UNneeded things. The big tent was a great to visit on Sunday, the last day – no croweds! Enjoy these sunsets….I know I sure do 🙂
Hey neighbor! If you want to come by and visit you’re welcome to see us out in Dome Rock. I may need to go back to some of the stalls tomorrow to find myself another cool hat…you can never have too many ya know!
I hear ya…..hats and sunglasses. Thanks for the invite. I think we’re heading to Phx tomorrow. Al’s not feeling well. He’s been on the couch the last two days with that crud. I’ll be hooking her up and driving – girl power! If plans change I’ll let ya know, I could use another hat too 🙂 Ingrid
We’re back to plan A and not heading to Cave Creek till Friday. If you’re still up for a visit shoot me an email…. email@example.com. I might even HAVE to go shopping for another pair of sunglasses. Love the ones I picked up the other day.
Ray Burr says
I didn’t see too many deals there, but it was fun to wander the booths. Picked up a few odds and ends that the RV needed like Sewer Valve handles, Sewer extension hose, and a diesel fuel additive to try. I too was disappointed by the lack of WiFi stuff, was pretty much the same at Tampa Show last year. One thing I really like was being able to talk face to face with some of the company reps like the Champion Generators and Progressive Industries Surge Protector. Was able to get some great advice and info. We are down in Algodones to get our teeth fixed now and getting free full hookups from one of the Quartzsite promotions, had to endure a 1 hour sales pump for a membership group but that’s easy for me.
We too enjoyed being able to talk directly to the reps. We chatted w/ the Progressive Industries guys too..and also enjoyed a talk from Mac The Fire Guy.
Luke Alexander says
What To Do After Quartzsite
The Danish are Coming
Danes in the Desert
Tuesday, Jan. 22 through Wednesday, Feb. 6 Various locations
If your experience with Danish culture extends only as far as the pastry occasionally paired with your morning cup of coffee, Tucson’s resident Danes want to change that.
The Danish Club of Tucson is hosting Danes in the Desert, a series of lectures, exhibits and sporting events aimed at introducing attendees to the heritage of Danes and their ties to Southern Arizona.
The series began to take shape after FC Tucson, a soccer team in the Premier Development League, announced that Denmark and Canada’s international soccer teams would play Jan. 26 in Kino Stadium, according to Danish Club member Mia Hansen.
“It’s a celebration, so of course there’s a great pride in heritage,” said Hansen, who organized the event. One of the highlights of Danes in the Desert is an appearance by Denmark’s ambassador to the U.S., Peter Taksoe-Jensen. He will deliver the event’s keynote speech on Jan. 25 at the Viscount Suite Hotel, 4855 E. Broadway Blvd. The topic is “Denmark’s Green Agenda.” The speech will be followed by a meet-and-greet with Taksoe-Jensen, Danish athletes and other speakers.
One goal of the series is to generate awareness for attendees’ cultural backgrounds, whether they’re of Danish heritage or are just “people who love Danes,” according to Hansen.
Danes in the Desert will also feature a traditional, all-you-can-eat Danish smorgasbord from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2, at the Pavilions at Old Sabino, 3705 N. Old Sabino Canyon Road. Tickets are $30 and reservations can be made on the event website.
Sports fans can also watch gymnastics exhibitions by the National Danish Performance Team. Hansen’s parents met on the team in 1946, and that has her excited to share the team’s expertise with fellow Tucsonans.
“If it wasn’t for Danish gymnastics, I wouldn’t be here right now. … this is a tradition I’ve known about all my life,” she said.
Very interesting. We won’t make it to Tuscon by then, but I sure like the sound of that open smogasbord.
Just to say we REALLY enjoy your guided tours. By next year, we’ll be much more mobile. (Just have to find a good used truck to tow the 17.5 ft Aljo! Soon as we have that, we hope to join the Boondockers club to host here in Mt. Shasta and to stay with others on the road.) My friend Leila and her gray cat Sterling are there in a small Winnebago & has told us about Q for a long time. Hope to see the Yuma Flea market, too–when is that? Muchas gracias again!
~Kathi & Michael in My. Shasta
Very cool! Glad to have you guys along for the ride. We stayed south of Mt.Shasta last year and really enjoyed it.
As for the Yuma flea market I’m not sure exactly which one people go to, but I found this on google:
Paul and Nina, good to keep up with you every so often.
When are you coming to Whidbey Islands and the San Juan Islands, etc.?
Stay with us when you do.
Lovely to hear from your George! And we most certainly will take you up on that offer when we go thro’ the area. It’s on our “must see” list of spots.
Bob Nuttmann says
I certainly agree with you about the great sunsets at Quartsite. Our group left approx the same day you arrived. You camped west of Q and our group was east in the 14 day area. I am going to have to take a look at the dome rock area as our traditional area (we go every year) is a bit lava-rocky for my taste. The dogs usually get sore paws after one day. How about the area you are in. Sand or lava rock?
I do think the sky in Quartsite in Jan is special. I took a number of pictures of it. Seems like the sunsets last a long time and are mostly beautiful. As far as buying, I bought motor home stuff again this year. Case of tank treatment. It is the eco stuff and really a good buy. Less than 1/2 of the price at Camping World or place like that. I got a wiper blade for about 1/2 price. My wife usually gets jewelry. This year some fossil style. Thanks for the blog. I read it all the time.
Pretty rocky on this side too. You may be able to find smoother areas towards the back washes, but I think most of the boondocking spots are pretty similar. Lots of rocks all around Q unfortunately. The best thing I like about this area are the views…you’re up above Q so you get a little view of downtown and the valley. Makes for very scenic happy hour moments 🙂 The biggest negative is the background noise from I-10. You can get far enough back that it doesn’t bother, but it’s always somewhat there.
By the way I agree on the good deals for tank treatments here at Q. We definitely saw prices cheaper than anywhere else I’ve seen for those.
But did you find the toe socks to go with your flip flops?
Nooooo…I didn’t find them! In fact we just decided to stay another coupla days so I can shop some more.
It seems like we are always a step behind you — except for that time at Red Bluff. Right now we are at Lake Pleasant, just north of Phoenix. It’s a paid county campground if you haven’t been here, and you can get a primitive site or one with power and water. Anyway, we were just checking out Quartzsite because we are heading back to southern California, but we wanted to miss the crowd. It looks like we will!
Best to you in your travels, and maybe we will be on the same page at the same time one of these days!
PS. We’ll be boondocking again in the west so we will one day update pour blog. Been having too much fun to keep blogging!
I looked at Lake Pleasant but it was a bit far from the airport so didn’t stay there this time around. Still, it’s nice to see there are spots out there. ENJOY Quartzsite! It won’t be as crowded now, but still lots of interesting things to see & do there.
We have taken a trip to Q twice in past year. My best description is the “LARGEST OUTDOOR SHOPPING MALL” yea! I’d say in the world. We returned to home and are purchasing an RV and heading back!
I am going to take my RV into Quartzsite Az this year Nov, 2015, What i would like to know is if i can sell stuff out by my RV or only at the main tent? I was thinking that all or at least some RVers was selling stuff by there RV’s. Is that true? And if so do you need to buy a permit??
Thanks for any help in this matter.
There are lots of folks selling stuff outside the main tent, but I believe you need to purchase a vendor permit (which I think costs $50 or so). See this link (towards bottom of page):
There may be other rules I don’t know about, but the Quartzsite Chamber of Commerce should be able to answer those questions for you:
Dave B says
Here’s a big secret for living off the grid in an RV when it comes to disposing sewage and avoiding the complicated compost set-up. Good for single people, maybe not for married folks.
How does one get rid of cat and dog feces?
How does a mother dispose her baby’s dirty diapers?
How does an elderly person wearing diapers dispose their waste?
In the garbage !
My FEMA approved method is very cheap and clean…..
What you need to buy…..
(1) ‘Glad’ 13 gallon super strength scented garbage bags
(2) A pack of large “Underpads” for about $6
(3) Cut each pad in half with scissors, fold and stack nearby
(4) Open your toilet lid and place the garbage bag inside, closing the sit-down lid over the edges of the bag
(5) Take one (1/2) pad and fold-over once and place the pad into the toilet and in the bag
(6) Close the lid and you are ready to go !!
You can number one and two at the same time and little to no liquid will accumulate at the bottom of the bag. The pad soaks it all up, and plus….you dispose your toilet paper on top of the load and that helps soak-up any liquid. Use carpet or pet deodorizer powder ($2) and sprinkle on your deposit. Note: Not your bank deposit please…
If you are single, use your new found toilet operation maybe two or three times before if catches-up to you.
When done….open the sit-down lid and grab the ends of your garbage bag and push-out the air and then twist enough until you can tie at least two knots (not with the string).
Dispose the bag of waste into your small Wal*Mart waste bag next to the toilet with the collected cat waste, and place the whole shebang in your main garbage bag and when that’s ready to go, remove all air and tie-off as you would normally do. Take to dumpster or collect in a large plastic bin outside your RV for when you are ready to dump the bags.
Now….for you men that pee all night long.
Get a 1 gallon plastic container like an “Arizona Tea” bottle, find a suitable oil funnel and cut about half the narrow part off with an box cutter, place the funnel into the top of the 1 gallon container, use gorilla tape to secure the funnel as not to loose control…peeing all over the floor. Spray funnel occasionally with disinfectant.
When ready to dump the pee, take to the nearest port-a-pottie, or dig a hole, and in a tight situation…pour it into your toilet (when you have removed your number two FEMA bag apparatus).
Trust me….little to no smell, efficient, easy and cheap. It’s not against the law to dump your senior mom’s diaper into the trash, therefore….it will never be illegal to dump a diaper you are not actually wearing into the dumpster.
Happy Camping !!
Are there places to rent Rvs or but cheap travel trailers there!?
In Quartzsite? It’s a super small town and I’ve never seen any rental operators there, although there are a few RV sales guys (don’t think they rent though). You can always rent outside of Q and simply drive in.