After two visits and five weeks camping in Quartzsite I am by no means an expert. I do think I have learned enough though to share my thoughts on how newbies to the area can survive and even have a good time here. That being said, please keep in mind there are as many ways to boondock out here as there are people, and your mileage will definitely vary.
- Make sure you visit before or after the big show – Seeing Q during the show is fun and definitely something everyone should do once, but to really experience the area come before or after the few weeks surrounding the show. If you only experience it during those couple of weeks, you will definitely get a skewed idea of what it is all about and in my opinion miss out on a lot of the fun of the place. Plus, if you are working, the internet is awful doing the two weeks around the show.
- Have a plan and know your limits – Understand what your rig can do and what your individual limits are prior to deciding where to stay. You don’t have to have a full solar array or huge tanks to make boondocking work. You don’t have to be able to scrape by on the bare minimum either. What you do need is a thorough understanding of your boondocking tools, a willingness to try something new, and good communication skills. If you don’t feel up to trying it, you can still experience Quartzsite. There are many reasonably priced, full hookup parks. Yes, they are stacked pretty close together, but staying in one of these makes your visit no less of a Quartzsite experience. Kudos to my friend Ellen by the way for knowing up front they would need hookups for an extended stay and getting an excellent seasonal deal at Quail Run, which was a very nice park.
- Be careful choosing your spot – Chances are once you get in a spot you probably won’t move, so choose it carefully. Park on rocks instead of the sandy areas in case of rain. Make sure your solar and/or windows are faced in the direction you want them. Think about which way the wind is blowing, where the sun rises and sets, how close are your neighbors, etc, prior to settling in. As first timers I do recommend La Posa South simply because the water, sewer, and trash dumpsters are on this piece of BLM land. The other BLM areas are also very nice, and if you are willing to travel a little farther to dump, give one of those a try. Once you choose your spot make a rock boundary. Yes, technically it’s against the rules, but they aren’t enforced, and it does help maintain a little space around you as things started to get crowded. Also make sure you respect other people’s boundaries when you park near them. It’s a big desert and the socially accepted space between rigs is generally larger than you are used to.
- Conserve but don’t make yourself crazy – Here’s the thing; it’s not a competition. There is no prize for going the most days without getting water or dumping, and since everyone’s tanks are different sizes it wouldn’t be fair if it was a competition anyway. I shower ever day, some people every other, still others go three days. Does that make me a bad person? Heck no, I just like to shower everyday and since Lee is willing to dump a little more frequently. who cares? I do strongly recommend though that you invest in Chinet paper plates. They are strong and practically leak proof and not only does it save tons of dish water but it also is great not to wash a lot of dishes. Huge fan.
- Explore the town – There is a surprising amount of stuff to do in Q besides the tent show. The local QIA has free dance and yoga lessons. There is a local remote control plane club. There are tons of hikes and ATV trails close by and lots of local shops to see. See it all, but try to hold onto your wallet. It’s tough, because there are lots of products designed specifically for RVers, but remember any purchase may end up in a future “purge” pile.
- Get social – Whether you are meeting friends or not there are so many ways to meet people here that you could literally do something with people every day. Most groups and clubs have events here and if you are active on the forums or RVillage you will see tons of people wandering through. This is probably the largest gathering of like minded people any of us will ever experience and it is wonderful to spend so much time with people. Make sure you take time for just yourself and as a couple. Take a day trip or take a day off once in awhile and don’t forget about your day-to-day chores. Bills still need to be paid, laundry, grocery shopping, housework etc.
- Get out of town – There are many wonderful things to see out of town. Go to Cibola or Kofa for a little nature. Visit Blythe or Parker to see nearby small towns. See the Desert Bar, travel to Mexico, or visit Yuma. Q is a great jumping off point for many day trips.
- Enjoy the downtime – Despite all the things to do you may experience more downtime than you are used to. That’s part of the fun of it, just doing nothing sometimes. If you are a go go go person, just be prepared for it.
- It will be dusty – It’s dusty here and the wind does blow. The good news is the dust is not gritty, it’s more the consistency of talcum powder, but it does get everywhere. If you are a person who needs a spotless rig all the time this is probably not the place for you. My recommendation is clean when you get there and clean when you leave. In the middle just straighten up but sweeping, mopping, and dusting is pretty much a wasted effort.
So those are my thoughts as a no longer newbie in Quartzsite. We will definitely be coming back again and I really do recommend that everyone who full times tries this at least once.There truly is nothing quite like it!
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