Quartzsite, Ariz., is a desert town that most RVers are at least familiar with and more than likely have spent time there. However, you may never have heard of this place if you’re not an RVer or from Arizona. Regardless, if you find yourself in Quartzite, you’ll learn certain rules you must follow.
Or maybe it’s better to call them the seven deadly sins of visiting Quartzsite. With the deadliest sin being not visiting at all.
Where Is Quartzsite?
First things first, where is this tiny town every RVer should know? Quartzsite lies about 20 miles from the California/Arizona border in southern Arizona.
Interstate 10 runs directly through this desert village of just over 3,600 people, making it a convenient stopover to just about anywhere in the southwest.
Why Do People Visit Quartzsite?
However, Quartzsite does not have the small-town vibe you might expect of a town with just 3,600 residents. In the fall and winter, the population hits closer to a million, with most of that coming from RVers.
So why is this town situated along a nondescript section on I-10 in the middle of a desert so popular in the winter? Southern Arizona averages temperatures in the low 70s, making it the perfect winter getaway. Whereas in the summer, it easily hits over 100 degrees. Consequently, this is also when the town resumes its normal population.
In addition to great weather, it has great campsites. You have no limit on where to set up camp with acres of Bureau of Land Management land and over five designated dispersed camping regions. You’ll also find long-term visitor areas (LTVAs) and private RV parks.
And once you set up camp, you’ll have plenty of places to explore. Quartzsite is known as the “Rock Capital of the World,” and they know it. People come from all over to peruse the treasures at the flea markets that define Quartzsite. And when you get hungry and thirsty after a day of sorting through all the goodies, you’ll find food and drinks at the many places that have been here for decades.
But if you happen to show up at Quartzsite in the off-season, you’ll come across deserted campsites and few markets and dining options. You’ll have the entire wide open space to yourself if you can handle the heat.
But besides the ideal winter weather, the biggest draw to Quartzsite might just be the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show. This event draws in thousands of visitors every January and highlights many new RVs, which you can buy onsite. You’ll also find over 200 vendors dealing in everything RVs and more. Best of all, entrance and parking are free.
Pro Tip: Use these 7 Ways to Make Your RV Trip to Quartzsite More Enjoyable to ensure your adventure is perfect.
How Much Does It Cost to Camp in Quartzsite?
Speaking of parking and fees, how much does it cost to camp in Quartzsite? Let’s just say this could be the least amount of money ever spent on camping.
Most people camp on BLM land in the desert. You won’t have any shade unless you provide it. But what you will find, instead, is a lot of like-minded people out enjoying the warm Arizona winter weather. And that means wide-open spaces, star-lit nights, and conversational campfires, all with your new friends — which could be a lot.
But it could also cost a lot if you opt for day-to-day rates at one of the over 70 private RV campgrounds. If you’d rather have full hookups than none, then opt for weekly, monthly, or even long-term rates.
But you have other options if you want to dry camp and stay longer than the allotted 14 days set by the Bureau of Land Management. The La Posa Long-Term Visiting Area doesn’t have hookups or electricity, but it does have trash receptacles, a dump site, and water. And for less than $200, you can stay for up to seven months.
For free or a fee, whatever you choose, camping here can be worth every penny.
The Seven Deadly Sins of Visiting Quartzsite
Not visiting Quartzsite will be your deadliest sin, but since you’re reading this post, we assume you have plans to visit soon. So let’s move on to the other seven sins, such as not being social, not having a power source, and leaving too soon.
You’ll also want to head to Quartzsite with a plan, pay a visit to the RV show, and boondock. But careful, boondocking in the desert requires some awareness of what surrounds you. Hopefully, that’s more friends than cacti.
1. Sticking to Yourself
Earlier on, we mentioned campfires with newly discovered friends. Sticking to yourself is always an option, but when camping in Quartzsite, prep your social skills and lose the myth of avoiding strangers. Say hi to a fellow RVer instead.
Because most people visit Quartzsite for the same reasons — a meetup, the RV show, the rock show, to get out of the cold — these strangers may not stay that way for long. You can stick to yourself when you head north and the cold keeps you snuggled inside. At Quartzsite, it’s time to socialize. Make connections, share experiences, and enjoy your time with others.
2. Not Having a Power Source
When boondocking, you can have a lot of fun powering up your toys. Without a power source, you might find that you can’t use some of your favorite amenities, such as air conditioning. Yes, you’ll likely visit in the winter, but we all know how hot RVs can get.
And having solar panels, a generator, or a large battery bank can help provide the necessary power for required tools such as your Instant Pot or charging your phone so you can plan for the RV Show.
3. Skipping the Quartzsite RV Show
And that’s the next deadly sin of visiting Quartzsite — skipping the RV Show. Likely, all your friends will talk about it around the campfire, and you won’t want to feel like you’ve missed out. Really, the Quartzsite RV show is like one of the seven wonders of the RV world.
Not going when you travel in an RV is like not having a campfire when camping. It’s a sin.
4. Not Staying Long Enough
There’s so much to do here along with all the space and time to do it. It would be a shame if you left too soon. Don’t miss out on hiking among the cacti, playing on the off-road trails, or searching for that perfect rock. Plus, the longer you stick around, the more things you’ll find.
Things like visiting the Hi Jolly Tomb, checking out the nearby petroglyphs, visiting museums, and attending one of the many gem and mineral shows. You can’t do it all in a day or two.
Pro Tip: While visiting Quartzsite, make sure to visit these 9 Best Things To Do in Quartzsite, Arizona.
5. Depending on Campgrounds
With over 70 campgrounds, you’d think you’d easily get a spot. But millions of people flock to Quartzsite every year, meaning those 70 campgrounds fill up quickly and many remain booked the entire season.
But if you don’t commit the sin of relying on campgrounds in Quartzsite, you won’t have to worry. With open space dispersed camping abundant everywhere you look, you don’t need to make reservations here. Just show up.
There’s a spot somewhere for you. Really. There’s that much space for camping.
6. Winging It
However, if you wing it too much, Quartzsite can prove overwhelming. Do your research ahead of time. Campendium is a great source to help you determine which Quartzsite area BLM Land you’d like better than others. But also remember that they are all fairly similar. Wherever you stay, you’ll have all the stark beauty of the desert with the crazy beauty of a million RVs in the area.
The best piece of advice when meeting new friends in Quartzsite is to know where you’ll all meet. If you simply say, “Let’s meet in Quartzsite,” you may meet new friends, but you might never see the ones that you meant to find in the first place.
7. Ignoring Hazards
Quartzsite is a unique place, and camping here can be an interesting experience. However, ignoring desert hazards is quite the sin and can turn any camping trip into a nightmare. So, research the dangers beforehand.
First, don’t park in a wash. Flash floods, though rare, can happen, and this water goes right into these washes. Second, watch out for cacti. They’re everywhere, and they hurt, especially the cholla. Many know them as jumping cacti because they seem to attach themselves to you even if you didn’t touch them.
Third, be ready to pull in your awning and forego campfires as needed. The desert can get windy, and you don’t want your canopy or campfire to become hazards.
Finally, watch out for snakes and coyotes. You can worry a little less about snakes during the fall and winter. Coyotes can cause trouble, so don’t let your pets wander off. But mostly, coyotes make beautifully eerie sounds worth falling asleep to.
Is Quartzsite Worth Visiting?
We joke that rules are meant to be broken. But we don’t recommend breaking these rules, better known as the seven deadly sins, in Quartzite. So, now that you know these unwritten rules, find that perfect rock that goes inside that perfect RV.
Then park at that perfect campsite next to your perfect new friends. I’d say Quartzsite is worth a visit.
Have you ever visited this RV town in Arizona? Tell us about your experience in the comments!
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