Quartzsites’ motto…. The Rock Capital of the World. This sleepy little desert town with a population slightly over 3,000 turns into a thriving metropolis each year during the months of January and February.
Well over a million tourist’s cycle through Quartzsite for the numerous Gem and Mineral Shows, Rummage Sales, and the Big RV Tent Sale. This year’s Big Tent Sale started on Jan 19th and ended Jan 27th. The Big Sale attracts thousands of RVer’s from around the country. The landscape turns into a sea of RV’s in all directions.
This was our first time to Quartzsite. Al and I don’t have much interest in flea markets, garage sales, or such and thus did not expect Quartzsite to be our cup of tea. We do have an interest in supplies and equipment for the RV and I always enjoy looking at new Rigs. So we knew there would be some small part we’d enjoy.
There are lots of RV Parks in the area that provide full-hooks, but for us, to be a part of the true Quartzsite experience, that would entail boondocking in the desert……..being self-sufficient, living off the grid, living off the land like a true Pioneer (or with a Wal-Mart 40 miles up the road). Quartzsite is surrounded by BLM Land (Bureau of Land Management – Federal Land). As such, it’s available for our enjoyment at no to little cost.
There are areas designated; Day Use Only, 14 Day camping, and LTV (Long Term Visitor). 14 day camping is free with absolutely no services of any kind. LTV areas require a fee but provide dump and trash service. The roads and trails are open to ATV’s and 4×4’s.
The Escapees RV Club – The Boomers, set up Boomerville in a 14 day camping parcel of land. We have our own community complete with organized activities. During the two-week period, 129 RV’s passed through Boomerville. We arrived to this gathering knowing a total of two couples. By the end of our stay, we were no longer newbies and were acquainted with dozens of couples.
We explore the town and vendors several days before the start of the tent sale. Al and I think, “Hey, this isn’t so crowded”. We wonder if we’re missing anything. AND then, they started showing up. A line of RV’s exiting Interstate 10 continued for days. Each day more and more RV’s pulled into Quartzsite, some of which headed to Boomerville. Al and I used to live on the outskirts of Boomerville and now we were surrounded by neighbors. As the two weeks progressed, neighbors came and neighbors went. Most folks stay for a much shorter time frame than the full 2 week period.
Traffic in town went from small town traffic to city stop and go. Parking at times was a challenge. The first 3 days of the tent sale brought elbow to elbow crowds. We went out to dinner at a local bar for a Friday night fish fry with friends and waited to be seated for an hour. The fish was good, I’m just not sure it was worth the wait.
Al and I returned to the Big Tent on Sunday the 27th, the last day of the event. No crowds. Some but few deals. Burned out merchants. Some vendors were already starting to pack up. We ate some of the best pulled pork and chicken for lunch. No waiting, no crowds! It was awesome. We bought a couple of things we needed but manly browsed. The day before had brought rain which kept us rig bound. So it was nice to get out and about and enjoy a gorgeous day of sunshine and a little shopping.
Al and I had a great Quartzsite experience. Is it for everyone? Nope. Would we do it again? Yes. What was the best part of our experience? Friendship. How long did we stay? Sixteen days……shhhh, don’t tell anyone we stayed two days longer than alloted. That inital five-day stay we thought would be plenty, turned into sixteen and with the exception of a few cold days and one day of rain, the weather was very agreeable.
We took the rig into town twice to dump the tanks, take on fresh water, fill up propane, and purchase gasoline for the generator. All and all our boondocking capabilities are improving and we had an immensely good time. More tales to follow!