We had heard about the “biggest RV gathering on the planet” in Quartzsite since way before we even hit the road. Most RVers we’ve met either love or hate Quartzsite, some even tried to discourage us from going. So what and where is Quartzsite? If you are a rock hound, gem collector, snowbirder, hobbyist or somewhere in between you may have heard about Quartzsite.
Quartzsite is a small town in southwestern Arizona, at the junction of I-10 and US95. It is known as “the mecca” of boondocking, attracting hundreds of thousands of RV’ers every winter. AND it is also a rock hound’s paradise. They say that millions of visitors attend the town’s annual two-month long show and swap meet during January and February. But the biggest gathering happens between Jan 19-27, 2013 for the RV portion, and we will go back for it. Click here for more info about the shows.
Since Quartzsite was pretty much along our route of travel, we decided to go there for a few days to “scope it out” before the big show. It was fairly quiet when we were there, but even in early December there were 100’s of RV’s boondocking out in the desert and some vendors selling their goods in town. Whether you love or hate this place probably depends on how you feel about camping with wall-to-wall people all around you. We suspect we won’t like it very much, but we will go for a few days to experience it, and besides Steve says he is not going to miss the massive vendor displays for anything.
Since we are doing the “Quartzsite BLM thing” for the first time, a bit of an orientation to the area was very helpful. With the help of Wheeling It’s GPS coordinates we found a spot in the Dome Rock Mountain area, one of the five BLM areas offering free camping. We spent 3 nights there and we enjoyed the peace and quiet in the desert, just look at the pic where we were parked. There were no ATVs driving around during our stay. We know its not gonna be like this when we come back.
Dome Rock mountain is located approximately 3.5 miles west of Quartzsite and we think it’s a good area far enough from the major madness that will happen in January. After registering with the camp host near Exit 17, we set up camp and started exploring the surroundings.
While riding our bikes in the desert, we discovered endless trails winding through the landscape. We were reminded how vast the open lands are in the southwestern U.S. The hiking and biking opportunities are virtually unlimited! However, we did find an unusual golf course that is completely natural with no landscaping at all. Just a bunch of flags, benches and thick bushes throughout. We’d like to see Tiger Woods play this course!
We also took a long walk from our site to the vendors near where the huge show will be next month. We bought some great jerky and other products from a South Dakota-based company – hey, our new home state! We purchased some other goodies and then trudged back home. One thing that amazed us is that there are only a couple of small grocery stores and other businesses in this town. How the heck do they support over 750,000 RV’ers during the big show? I guess we’ll find out next month – stay tuned!
If you plan to come for the show and did not make reservations to one of the 60 private RV parks or just to stay here for a while, here are a few useful references :
Dome Rock Mountain Camping >>>http://www.blm.gov/az/st/en/prog/recreation/camping/dev_camps/dome-rock.html
Free RV Camping .org >>>http://www.rv-camping.org/QuartzsiteAZ.html
Free Quartzsite BLM Camping >>>http://www.your-rv-lifestyle.com/quartzsite-blm.html
We continue to enjoy incredible sunsets in the desert.