If you are new to Quartzsite, you’ve no doubt heard stories and folk-lore about Q. My first year, I had a really good time, but I was in a state of overwhelm trying to figure everything out. Also I was fairly new to boondocking (dry camping). So I’m here to help make your first visit to Q is fun and enjoyable.
How Q started?
This little desert town of 3600 swells to hundreds of thousands of people in January each year. You might ask how, why? Well there are miles and miles of desert around the town that RVers park on. Most of that property is BLM.
It all started in 1965 when some rock hounds put together the Pow Wow Rock Gem & Mineral show and people started flocking to Q in January each year. It’s still a world renown area for rock collecting. There are specimens of rocks from all over the world, it’s amazing and very interesting.
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The RV Component
Then in 1984 the first RV show happened. The 2017 RV show will be January 21 – 29. The big tent holds many fine vendors of great items for RVers. It is very crowded, so get your game face on to walk through the big tent area. If you need to bring your dogs, I would suggest a stroller or a wagon for them, otherwise they could get kicked and it would pretty awful being on the ground with legs and feet everywhere.
RV Dealers from all over the West bring in new and used RVs for sale. There are dealers set up in vacant lots all over town, so if you are looking to purchase or upgrade, many people find good deals in Quartzsite. I visited in December and there were already quite a few RVs in town for sale, more will arrive for January.
Why it’s fun?
It’s all about connectivity! It’s quirky and fun and very different. You do not want to go alone, you want to join a group, that is the whole point, meeting like minded people. There are groups for types and brands of RVs. There are groups with special interest, solos, geocachers, RV brands, you name it, they are out there. My favorites: Take Your Dog Along is hosting is first every adventure dog rally. Boomers & Xscapers are chapters of the Escapees club and super fun groups.
The desert is beautiful and the rocks are amazing. Sunsets are pretty epic 5 out of 7 nights of the week. The people are unique in town and there is a lot of community in Q. Need a Chiropractor, yup there’s one, want to take a yoga class, yes there’s that too.
How to get around
It’s a crossroads town. I-10 goes east and west through town. Hwy 95 (aka Central) goes north and south. Main Street parallels I-10 on the north side. Kuehn Rd parallels I-10 on the south side. Every thing is on Main St, Kuehn Rd or Hwy 95 (aka Central). The town is all located in between the 2 exits off of I-10
There is a nice town park, library with free wi-fi, and a good dog park. These are all in the northeast quadrant.
How to Camp in the desert
Here’s the lowdown on the BLM camping in the areas.
All of this area is $40 for 1-14 days of dry dispersed camping. There is a dump station, water and restrooms at one of the stations. You can stay longer, pay more.
La Posa: South on Hwy 95 is the La Posa long-term camping area. Head south on Hwy 95, just 1/4 mile and you can turn either way. Or go 2 miles and turn either way. Both have good Verizon service.
You must register with the camp hosts. They are FREE. 14 days is the max. After 14 days you are supposed to leave for 14 days, and go at least 25 miles away if camping on BLM.
Plomosa Road & Hi Jolly – north on Hwy 95, both of these areas are on the east side. Both have good Verizon cell service. Hi Jolly is all dirt road, not sure how far it goes back. Plomosa Rd is a very good paved road. The camping is only for 3 miles (the road keeps going), you can camp on either side. Both areas have lots of flat, open area camping.
Dome Rock West On the west and south side of I-10, Dome Rock West Rd parallels I-10. There is dispersed camping all to the south of the road. Lots of smaller open areas, a little more hilly here. Verizon service is not as strong but some have reported that AT&T is good. There are mountains close here and the hiking/exploring is fun. Xscapers will be at GPS Coordinates: 33.6411104,-114.2979239
Dome Rock East – from the east exit off of I-10 or Kuehn road which turns into Dome Rock East there is camping right off of this road along the freeway. Drive 2 miles on a barely paved road (deteriorating) east and the road dead ends into a dirt/gravel road to the south. Turn right here and travel 2ish (?) miles to the Boomerville camp on the right where 100+ RVs will be Jan 15-29. Everyone is welcome with the Boomers. There are signs on the road for directions. The last road is very rough, but motorhomes will be fine, just go slow. Dispersed camping all in this area, but not past the Boomers.
Trash – On the north side of town on hwy 95 on the west side of the road is Refuse Transfer Station between mile markers 111 -112. Open 7:30 – 2:30, Sunday – Wednesday.
What is there to do?
- For 1 week and 2 weekends, the Big Tent show is going on and there are hundreds of vendors selling RV related gear.
- There are tents and flea market areas all over town selling everything!
- Look at new and used RVs. Many dealers in the West bring in RVs from all over, there are a few thousand RV’s to purchase and good deals can be had because the dealers would prefer to NOT drive them back to where they came from.
- Restaurants – fun and funky. More of a social experience than a good eating experience. Some of the Food carts are great too.
- Silly Als is known for their great pizza.
- Quartzsite Yacht Club has great fish & chips, burgers and sandwiches.
- Many more things to do like hiking, 4×4 rides, desert exploring, geocaching, going to the Desert Bar in Parker on Sat or Sun.
- Weather: It gets dark at 6 pm, which makes for a long night, fires at night are a big plus. Bring firewood! It’s almost always sunny during the day and in the 60’s or low 70’s. Nights are in the 40’s. So you need HEAT in your RV, so save your batteries for running your heater in the morning.
- RV’s with Solar: If you have a solar set up, good on you. You still might need your generator on cloudy days.
- RV’s with Generators: Yes, you will need a generator to dry camp if you don’t have solar. Your batteries will be depleted to some extent after 24 hours and you will need to run your generator to pump them back up.
- Articles on Boondocking
- Boondocking with dogs – recent blog post.
- Heaters: of course you can run your onboard heater, but this does use up a lot of your battery energy. Also they are loud and hard to sleep with if cycling on and off, actually they are hard to sleep with if your neighbor is running theirs! I rarely run my onboard heater. I’ve even heard of people tearing them out. When plugged to electric hook up in I use a small space heater. It’s does the job quietly. But what about when you are boondocking? This year I will have a ventless heater that I bought from a friend. Here is a great article on these types of heaters.
What can you get in town?
- Gas there are several with decent prices, the prices are cheaper here than in California. The ARCO station on the very east side of town/exit, north side of I-10, has the cheapest gas and diesel.
- Groceries, there are three smaller mom & pop stores. They have a decent selection of goods.
- Roadrunner Market: 200 E Main St
- Quartzsite General Store: 410 E Main St
- Big Market: 775 W Main St
- Blyth, CA 20 miles away has large grocery stores.
- There are flea market type vendors all over town. They sell everything to LED lights to Mexican Imports to jewelry to tools, to groceries to Rocks (lots of rocks).
- Great deals on LED lights, big outdoor mats ( I got a 9×12 for $20 in 2016)
- Dump your tanks on the north side of town at the RV Pit stop 425 N Central Blvd, for $10-15 and refill your water tanks for $4-5. Rose RV Park on 600 E. Kuehn Rd on the southeast side of town is another option.
- The Escapee Boomers had a RV honey wagon service come out and pump out grey and black tanks for $35 each. So if you don’t want to move your RV, there is this option.
- There are many RV parks in town with full hook ups, but they are glorified parking lots all on gravel. If you have never dry camped before or very little, I would recommend dry camping with a group for a few nights, then have a reservation at an RV park in town afterwards.
- Laundry/Showers – Available at Main Street Laundromat & Showers 205 E. Main St. Good breakfast restaurant here also. Price is $7 for a shower. Patti’s RV park has a small laundry open to the public. One more laundry on the north side of town just south of the RV Pitt Stop. All are $2.50 or $2.75 a load.
- Propane is available at many places all over town, Dec 2016 average price is $2/gallon.
What to bring:
- Empty grey and back tanks
- Full water tank
- Your Talent! – If you have a talent or knowledge of anything and want to share it, then you can offer a little “class” on it. At the Escapees Boomerville, there is a white board that is full of such classes or activities each day. It’s just folks sharing their knowledge with each other. What a great way to meet some like minded people.
- Food – bring everything you need for your stay. You can resupply in town, but make sure to have your favorite items.
- Potluck food– You will hopefully be attending a potluck or two, so what can you make easily? Can be main dish, side dish or desert. I would plan on at least 2 of these if not more. Many groups have their campers bring items for happy hour, so bring finger food items.
- Paper plates, bowls & paper towels. This is just easier when dry camping. Have extra paper towels on board, needed for help with cleaning dishes.
- Down Blanket or sleeping bag (that opens up). Adding down to the top of your current bedding will keep you warm in bed at night even if your rig drops into the 30’s.
- Inverter – If you have a newer RV, likely you have an on board Inverter, but if not, you can purchase a 300 watt inverter to charge your phone, ipad and computer.
- Lightweight camp chair – Great for bringing to the circle of campers at night. If you don’t have one, you can find one in Q.
- Propane campfire is a nice addition, they put out nice heat.
- Wood for a fire.
- Jackets are a must to have on board for short haired dogs.
- Lighted collars or lighted balls on your dogs, there is a lot of dark in January.
- Bedding for the pets – make sure to have some cozy blankets for them
- Here’s our list of everything you might need for the dogs when traveling.
Bottom line, Quartzsite is fun and funky, but I truly believe you need to experience it with a group. If you have dogs, then you definitely need to join the First Ever Dog Adventure Rally in Q with the Take Your Dog Along Club.
If you can’t pry your self away from your regular group, please drop by our camp on Friday January 20 or Saturday, January 21st for some fun. And of course, bring the dogs! Our location will be off of Plomosa Rd, follow the green dog bowls or join our Facebook Group for the exact location.
Specialty Events in Q
QuartzFest – A weeklong ham radio camping, learning and living event.
Websites with more information on Quartzsite!
- http://www.QuartzsiteCalendar.com has lots of info for events, shows, classes, entertainment
- Check out http://www.QuartzsiteVisitorGuide.com for more info and a map of the town.
- Off-Road enthusiasts will enjoy almost 1100 miles of designated trails just in the Quartzsite area! Lots of info including an interactive map is online at http://www.QuartzsiteTourism.com
Blogs with great info:
Some Good links for more information: