Quartzsite is a sleepy little town of about 3,000 residents during the scorching Arizona summer, but in the months of January and February it swells to over 1 Million people, almost all of them living in RVs. Most of these people boondock in the desert, staying on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands surrounding the town.
Quartzsite sits on the western side of the La Posa Plain along Tyson Wash. It’s small, dusty, and poor, with a median family income around $26,000. On the surface it might appear that there’s not much to see or do, but there are lots of activities that cater to RVers.
Many people enjoy hiking, biking, or riding quads in the desert. There are also an innumerable number of gem shops, selling rocks, gemstones, and jewellery to rock hounds, collectors, and visitors. But the main attractions to this tiny town are The Quartzsite Shows.
Quartzsite hosts a steady stream of trade shows during the winter months, primarily in January and February. The largest of which is the Annual Sports, Vacation, and RV Show, a 9 day RV extravaganza held in the massive show tent just south of town.
There are also gem & mineral, craft, classic car, and several other swap meet type shows, each of which attracts hundred of exhibitors and thousands of attendees.
We arrived just in time for the last day of the RV show, something we’d planned to do in order to complete the outfitting of our motorhome. We bought an aluminum folding table, some nice reclining lounges, and a lot of microfiber (a soft, quick-drying fabric that’s great in RVs for washing and drying just about everything).
Free camping is allowed in the Dome Rock Mountains, which overlook the town from the west. There are no designated campsites, and you’re allowed to stay for up to 14 days. We stayed here for three nights.
On our first night at Dome Rock we met Bob and Beth, a nice couple who have been full-time Rving for almost 20 years. Although they own a couple of ‘stick houses’ and tried to live in one recently, they couldn’t give up their life on the road. They invited us to visit them at their ‘home park’ in New Mexico. They also invited us to join the Escapees RV Club, a club that focuses on full-time Rvers, something that we’ll be doing for most of this year. We joined the next day at the RV show.
A unique economy has developed in Quartzsite to service the needs of all those seasonal RVers. Very little is permanent and many things are mobile. For example, trucks travel around to deliver fresh water and propane and to collect sewage, grey water, and garbage from RVs parked in the desert. Many businesses selling RV services locate temporarily in the town during the winter months, when the RV business is slow in their cold home towns. We had some work done on our RV by one such business, Erik’s RV Performance Center located in Sequim, Washington, but currently operating in Quartzsite.
We found that our Solera swayed uncomfortably on uneven ground at slow speeds. Within a few days of buying it, we turned in to an upward-sloping driveway that had a speed bump at the top of it. We crossed the bump on the diagonal. Even (perhaps especially) at a crawl, the resulting sway managed to pop open our microwave door and send the glass turntable flying to smash on the floor. We also noticed the sway when driving over potholes, when being passed by large trucks, and on cambered freeway ramps. We found this a bit disconcerting and so after some internet research, we decided to upgrade the suspension with Roadmaster RSS Anti-Sway Bars. Roadmaster had a booth at the Quartzsite show, and recommended Erik’s to install their products.
We had the rear factory sway bar replaced with an upgraded, thicker one, and we added an additional, forward-facing sway bar (also at the rear).
The new sway bars reduce the initial sway and quickly dampen any subsequent rocking. Unfortunately they also make noise, an issue that we’re still dealing with.
Quartzsite is a mecca for RVers, a pilgrimage site where the desert blooms with fiberglass coaches each winter. It’s a unique place where you can be among others with the penchant (some say affliction) to live the mobile, warm-weather lifestyle.