Social, Crazy, Diverse – Quartzsite, AZ
It’s been a whirlwind of a week. Paul and I both agree we haven’t been this social in months (years?) and it’s a wee bit overwhelming, but honestly this is part of what Quartzsite is all about. If you’re gonna come to “Q” you may as well come during the big show and if you’re gonna come to the big show you better be ready for some big-time crowds & craziness. This is part of what the fun of being here is all about!
I introduced this dusty little town in the last post and this time I’ll give you a bit more.
The big RV show in January (when most RVers come here) draws up to a million people each year, or so it’s been said. People mostly boondock in one of the paid La Posa LTVA areas (Long-Term Visitor Areas) or one of the 5 free 14-day areas (see where we usually camp here). The advantage of the former is that you can stay longer & they have trash, water and dump included in the price of the permit ($40 for 2 weeks, $180 for 7 months). The advantage of the latter is that it’s…well…free! Either way if you’ve never tried boondocking and want to do it for the first time THIS is the place to do it simply because it is soooooo easy here and literally everyone else does it too. Q was actually our very first boondocking experience in 2010!!
But the real interesting thing in Q is what happens when all these diverse people come together in one place and it’s not all about shopping. That’s the real magic of Quartzsite:
Social Gatherings & Meetings
No matter what you interest or ilk Q is a place you can find your “peeps”. Perhaps you’re a bus nut who wants a week of tech talks? Or, a ham radio buff? Or, maybe you’re a solo RVer? Or you live in a van? Or, you want to meet other folks with your type of rig? Or, you’re LGBT? Or, perhaps you’re the type who just wants to sunbathe in your birthday suit? ALL these folks are here…ALL of them!
We’re hanging with the Monaco iRV2 group, as you know, but there are masses of other RVers here. Our little meet and greet at the Beer Belly Bar (dog friendly, by the way) on Thursday drew about 25 bloggers & blog readers trickling in and out over a period of a few hours including Watson’s Wonder, Life’s Little Adventures, Island Girl, Bear Tracks as well as some readers who we met years ago as far away as Austin, TX!! Such a fun little meet-up and we totally enjoyed saying “hi” to everyone. Cheers to everyone who came!!
Then we got a little star-struck ourselves when Sassy’s On Da Road turned up on our doorstep with none other than van-dweller wonder To Simplify. Glen is one cool dude and lives fulltime in a van that he re-built from the ground up with his own two hands. The poor “beast” felt rather fat (and rather jealous) compared to his ultra-mobile go-anywhere van and I have to admit we might have drooled a little when we stroked the interior (sorry, Glen).
These are just a sampling of the kind of meetings you’ll have out here. With 100,000 RV’s in one place you’re bound to meet someone you know!!
People love art and when you bring a diverse group together someone is bound to create. There are actually all kinds of hidden rock sculptures all around Q and we’ve found two just around the corner of us at La Posa South. One set is in the “Magic Circle” (the clothing optional area) while the other is an accurate North America map hidden across a wash. Explore a little and you’ll be surprised at what you find….
Backroad Hiking & Off-Roading
Desert landscapes are often deceiving. On first look they are a never-ending vista of nothingness, but give it a little time and you’ll start to notice details and life that you didn’t expect. We’ve hiked around Dome Rock many times and enjoyed it’s many hidden roads. This year we expanded to Q Mountain (the one with the big “Q” on it just SW of town) and explored some of the old mines as well as the grand view from the top (pretty nifty). We also went further afield to to KOFA Wildlife Refuge (~18 miles south of Q) and did the popular Palm Canyon Hike to see some of the only native palms in AZ. ALL are pooch-friendly areas and well worth the trip. Those with 4-wheelers can explore a slew of other interesting roads in the area too.
And ALL The Other Q Craziness
Of course you can’t mention Q without mentioning the shopping. I wrote a few posts about this last year and there’s really not much more to add this year. You can find just about anything you need (and many more things you didn’t realize you needed) at the show. There are plenty of “big name” guys in the Big Tent, but the real deals are in the little shops & alleys outside the tent. Want a particular kitchen item? An unusual hat? Hard-to-find tools? Rocks, gems (and more rocks)? You may need at least 2-3 days to wonder around and find it, but it’s all here.
We’ve got maybe 2 more days to go before we scoot on from here. I’ll update you on our purchases before I ring off (we’ve got a few interesting ones), but that’ll be the end of our Q craziness. Our next stop will be back in the quiet and remote boonies for some much-needed alone time. We’ve LOVED our time here, but we’re ready to be back in the wilds again 🙂
Other good Quartzsite Blog Posts:
- Me And My Dog: Quartzsite boondocking questions answered
- RV Camping: Free Camping at Quartzsite
- Your RV Lifestyle: Quartzsite BLM Areas
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Happy to hear you guys are having fun and meeting people you saw before or just read about. I know I could not handle being around that many people. I have a hard time with concerts and state fairs now, guess it is crowd phobia.
Thanks for the updates on the event.
I totally get you. All these folks can be a tad overwhelming. There’s actually enough space out here that you can find a quiet corner to yourself if you really want to, but the center of town is definitely rocking. In a few months this place will be totally quiet again.
Would love to meet up with you finally since we trailed along near you in several places last winter. We’re now camped near Palm Canyon. . .after a few days near Yuma to visit Dr Eva (on your recommendation), near RVSue. Let me know if you have time for yet one more ‘meet & greet’ before you leave.
We’re actually headed out here the day after tomorrow, so sadly not much time left to meet-up. Hope you had a good experience with Dr. Eva and enjoy your time in Q!
Marsha Weaver says
What a year for us not to be there. Every blog tells how awesome the weather is, how much fun everyone is having and the great hiking trails.
Glad y’all are having a marvelous time. I see you met our friends, Jim and Gayle.
Keep enjoying the good life.
We’re definitely having some excellent weather over here. In fact we even seem to be having warmer weather than FL (who are having an unusually cold and wet winter ).
It was nice to finally meet Jim and Gayle. We seem to have been travelling about a week apart all fall. Great to finally catch up!
Looks so fun. I was there in 1995 in my RV that I traveled in at the time. Pretty big show even back then. I only stayed for a week tho. I would love to go back for a few weeks when I get my next RV.
Wow…the show was rocking even back then. I had no idea. I’d never even heard of Q until we started RVing and even then it took a few years before we made the big show. Sure glad we did!
Mary Hone says
The shopping in Quartzsite is a big draw for sure. We got there the beginning of January, before the masses showed up. It changed over night! We are on the Ogliby Rd. now, but this is not as nice as our spot near Q.
Early Jan can be pretty relaxed here. We’ve passed through Q in November and been all alone out here. It’s definitely a different experience during the big show.
Barbara-Me and My Dog ...and My RV says
I drove by your group coming back from a fresh water fill-up. LOTS of rigs in your circle!! I recognize both of your rock art photos – the one in the nude area especially. I snapped a photo of a man stepping up into his motor home when he turned around suddenly. He knew I was taking the photo, and obviously wanted it to be memorable. And it was. Ooooppps. I had to put digital clothes on him. What a surprise that photo was!
I’m glad you’ve had such a good time this year, and completely understand the need for some quiet time now. It’s nice to have the ying/yang – social time, quiet time – that full-timers enjoy. 🙂
Hah….”surprise” photo in the Magic Circle. I can just picture it!
Sounds like a cultural melting pot! 🙂
It definitely is! You can find all types out here.
Great post Nina. The real test of good story telling is if you can have your readers feel like they are there with you. We’ve heard a lot about Quartzsite. Thanks for bringing it to life. Enjoy the rest of your stay.
Glad I could give ya a little feel of the place. It’s sometimes hard to describe what Q is like. Such a diverse place!
Oh no had I known I could get a toe ring, I would have planned to go to Q sooner :0
Just kidding toe rings are for girls…right?
But it’s a *custom* toe ring. That makes all the difference, right?!
John and Pam says
So glad the meet and create went well:) I am sure people enjoyed this less formal atmosphere. Your blog has helped so many get started in this great life.
I guess we need to try Q again and do some exploring of the surroundings. I would love to stumble on some desert art.
It was a fun little event and a great way to meet more people than we could have done through one on one’s. We really enjoyed it!
I think you’d like the rock art out here. There are apparently also petroglyphs although we haven’t found them yet.
Janna and Mike says
Looks as if you guys have had a ball in “Q”. Where to next?? If you head to Bouse send us an email and we will tell you about a special spot.
Oh thank you Janna…that’s mighty sweet of you. We’re still a little unsure of exactly where we’re going, but I’ll definitely keep your offer in mind.
Bill aka one legged cowboy. says
Wow Nina thats a great synopsis of Quartzite. I have the fever to get on the road with my slide in truck camper and head out west! If all goes as planned March 1st is still the date. I really like the pictures that you posted, sern ablot of blogs anout Quartzite but this is the first that showed the creativity and open attitude. Lots of blogs focus in on negativity about crowds, dust, filth, etc. grest post!!!! Bill
I have to admit there are a lot of folks who don’t like Quartzsite and I think it’s exactly what you said -> because they focus on the negatives. There’s always two sides to every coin and I like to dig around and see the positives. I love the diversity here, esp. during the big show. Lots of hidden gems here, and I’m not just talking rocks 🙂
Jeff & Deb says
Thanks for the “Q” report. We just did our 2014-15 travels plans …”penciled in” going to Q next year. We look forward to checking out the “gems”. Cheers, Jeff & Deb
Cool! I think every RVer should experience Quartzsite at least once. It’s a unique little spot!
Great review(s) of Q. We had planned to be there last year, this year and for sure NEXT YEAR. (great benefit of wheels, go when/where). We head to Patagonia Lake in a few days, little spot in southern AZ just north of Nogales. If that is along any route you’re taking, stop by. We’ll be there till mid April.
Neat place! We stayed there last year and definitely enjoyed the area a lot. Great birding spot too. We may well end up somewhere around there by March timeframe.
First visited Q 15 years ago, when I lived in Tucson—even before I bought my first RV. Great place to see real rigs in action and ask questions of owners. Learned about Escapades and LoWs during that visit. When I finally got my 5er in ’02, I camped in Q my first LTVA winter. But the Jan/Feb crowds and traffic jams were too much, so I checked out Imperial Dam the next year—been coming back here ever since.
I gather from the old-timers that have been coming regularly that the crowds the past few years have been less than what they were 10-15 years ago. Still seems crowded to me, but I guess it used to be even crazier. Maybe one day we’ll get over to Imperial Dam.
It looks like you are having great fun in Quartzsite – but I understand the desire to get out of the “rat race” and get back in the boonies to some peace and quiet. Enjoy!
Yup it’s time for us to re-energize in the wilds. Definitely time!
Fun, Fun, Fun, I bet everyone was happy to meet everybody!
But I can just imagine the dust from all those thousands of people.
Congratulations on making it to the Top 50 RV Bloggers. That is a well deserving shout out for you have helped a lot of us through your blogs.
It’s definitely been dusty! Our solar panels have a thick layer of dust on them from our week here.
Aj and Beth says
The hikes around Q are dog friendly you said…how about off-leash friendly? I cant wait to take in that awesome RV gathering.
Quartzite seems like it’s a “Right of Passage”! Once you have been there and boondocked, you can go fourth and conquer all places RVing\Boondocking!
Thank you for the wonderful pics and stories.
Bill aka one legged cowboy. says
I am going to be afraid to let my Pug Sadie loose in campgrounds or boondocking out west due to coyotes. I have heard that they enjoy little dogs as appetizer! Is this a rumor or fact?
Well there’s definitely coyotes out here, but as long as you’re with your pets outside there is really no problem. We walk our cats outdoors everyday…we just never leave them unattended. The coyotes also tend to avoid camping areas unless there’s food left outside. Plus they are more active at sunrise/sunset and night too.
In our 5 years camping out here we’ve only seen a few coyotes and we’ve never had a problem with them approaching us and/or our pets while we were with them. You sure do hear them at night though.
Everyone does the hikes off-leash. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be that way, but as long as your dog is well behaved and responds to voice commands I can’t see it being a problem.
I have never really had a big desire to make it to Q for all the craziness… but now you are making me rethink that. Thanks for sharing!!!
Yeah, you just gotta get beyond the “big tent”. The interesting stuff is in the rummage sales, the people, the rock art etc…lots of hidden cool aspects to Quartzsite if you’re willing to explore the outer areas.
You have convinced us, we are going to have to do the Q at least once! Looks like great fun. 🙂
It was great to finally meet you and Paul in person. We’re so glad we joined the iRV2 Monaco circle in Q. We made so many new friends and learned so much about our rig! We also spent A LOT of money at the show. Very happy with our new TPMS system and all the other goodies that we didn’t know we couldn’t live without. Hope to see you “out there”. Cheers!
It was great to connect with you guys too. Very happy we got to meet!
Bruce H says
I have been following your blog for a little over a year and really appreciate all the information you share on boondocking.
I read about the rock art map of the United States in another blog over a year ago but have been unable to locate it. I am thinking it is near the dump site in La Posa South but I guess I could use some better directions. I would appreciate some more detailed information on the location because I would sure like to see it.
As far as activity at Quartzsite, I think there were more vendors in the late 1990’s. The Main Event on the west end of town was a big deal back then, probably larger than the Tyson Wells show. Now it is just a hand full of vendors. Traffic was a challenge because highway 95 through town and Main St (business 10) were only two lanes with no turn off lanes. It could take up to an hour getting going from the tent area to the Main Event!
Thanks for sharing your Quartzsite adventure!
Sure thing! It’s a bit before the dump, on the north side of the road across a wash. Here’s the coordinates for the stone map (as best as I can estimate them from Google Maps): 33.618416,-114.205084
This spot is a pretty neat campsite too…hope that helps you find it!
Bruce H says
I saved the coordinates as a Favorite in my GPS and was able to find it on Google Earth. Good job on finding it.
Turns out I was only about a thousand yards from it on Friday and did not know it. I may be back in Q this month, and if so, I will check it out.
Have a great stay in Why!
Wanda and Jim says
Definitely sounds like a must see. We have also been following your blog over the last year and find your camping information invaluable. We are on the countdown and should be starting our journey this summer in Canada until the cold weather descends then we will head south. Quartzsite will be on our agenda so maybe we will cross paths if you are there next year. We always look forward to your next blog
Bill & Mary says
Bill & Mary here
been to magic circle a lot of times in quartzsite Az for sun bathing but would like to find out if any couples or singles nudist in quartzsite would just like go out together to eat maybe just get together has friends or maybe sit around in our camper in nude own a private lot in one of the Quartzsite’s parks . We both in our 60’s not spring chickens but not over the hill ha! Just trying to find friends. Probably prefer 50 to 100 y/o but want say has to be 50 just be nice people.