By: Denise Krenning
Quartzsite AZ – Where over 500,000 snowbirds flock for the winter season. What draws them to this large desert winter oasis every year? It’s practically free and it’s warm. Need I say more? Ok, how about you can rent a RV space for less $2.85 per day folks and yes I’m serious.
We first heard of this crazy camping phenomenon one weekend while camping at Lake Dillion Reservoir in Colorado. We were checking in with the camp host and just started chatting up how beautiful this section of Colorado is. The hosts agreed it was one of their favorite places to host. They were from Kanas originally but 5 years ago, they sold everything and started Rving full time.
We’ve been intrigued with the idea of Rving full time so we spent some time talking about their experiences. That’s when Quartzsite was mentioned. We’d never heard of Quartzsite AZ so our hosts spent the next half hour smiling and sharing how to live next to nothing for 5-7 months out of the year.
Living in Colorado all our lives, we’re lifelong campers and see the migration of Rv’ers come through our state, starting in September and October. Many of these Rv’ers have yearly places they reserve for months at a time, other’s explore and move throughout the South. Still others have discovered BLM land where camping is free or less than $200 for 7 months. What???? That’s a heck of a deal and over 500,000.00 Rv’ers have discovered this hidden gem that’s right smack open in the Arizona desert.
If you love nature and boondocking, Quartzsite might be a great place to visit and avoid the “s” words. There’s no shoveling of snow. Heck ya, sign us up!
I should be hugging a cacti!
So how do you sign up for this budget friendly (cheap as hell) lifestyle? BLM (Bureau of Land Management) has LTVA Visitor Areas (LTVAs) which are specially designated areas located on lands in California and Arizona. These LTVAs provide places for you to stay for longer periods of time between September and April. You will need to purchase a Long Term Visitor Area Permit which is required from September 15th through April 15th each season. The cost is $180.00 (how is this legal???) and is valid for up to 7 months. If you’re just passing through, a short term permit can be purchased for a 14-day stay for $40.00. You can get the permits on site or at the BLM Yuma Field Office. The permit allows you to stay in any of the six LTVAs in California or two LTVAs in Arizona: Imperial Dam LTVA near Yuma and La Posa LTVA near Quartzsite. Side note: The America the Beautiful, The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is not accepted.
Fyi, just a little history lesson here. The La Posa Long Term Visitor Area (LTVA) was created in 1983 to fulfill the needs of winter visitors and to protect the local desert ecosystem from over-use. The campground is approximately 11,400 acres in size, flat landscape, sparsely vegetated with plants such as Creosote bushes, Palo Verde trees, Ironwood trees, Mesquite trees and various species of cacti. In other words, very much the desert, hot in summer, nice and cool winter nights. Nary a snowflake anywhere. And the critters are gone too! Another “s” word not to worry about. Sounds like a “win win” for all.
Also, every January, one of the biggest RV shows takes place for two weeks so if you’re worried about being bored in the desert, here’s a great event to partake in. Located just 20 miles east of the California border on Interstate 10, the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV show brings in as many as 750, 000 to 1, 000, 000 people, most with Rv’s. Don’t worry, the LTVA area is big enough that you can avoid this crazy event if you prefer cacti as your friends. Still, two weeks out of 7 months in the desert, you might find yourself wanting some company.
Here’s a quick dump of the Quartzsite RV Show logistics.
33rd Annual Sports, Vacation and RV Show
Jan 16th thru 24th, 2016 Hours: 9 AM to 5 PM
Location – 700 S. Central Quartzsite, AZ 85346
- Exhibitors from all over the USA plus several from Canada, Mexico and Europe.
- FREE admission to the public!
- 20 acre facility with FREE customer parking!
- Cellular & Wifi service available in area.
- Show is within easy walking distance of major Rock and Gem Shows!
- Plenty of Hotel & Motel rooms available nearby!
- 20,000+ BLM campsites border show grounds!
Fall is almost gone. This is very sad since it’s the perfect season. No joke. It just is. Ok, spring is pretty nice too. We can’t complain here in Colorado. We’ve enjoyed a long beautiful fall but the signs are everywhere that winter is coming. There’s white on that mountain which means no more hiking which makes me a very sad person. I’m not a happy person when I’m sad. Who is?
Collegiate Peaks, Buena Vista, Colorado
Another sign it’s time to head south are the TV ads. When you see cars flying through snow and skiers jumping for joy and it make you scream “Say it isn’t so!” it means you are officially past the days where being cold and playing in the snow is exciting. So this year, we’re planning on leaving the boots behind with the shovels and instead check out the amazing sunsets in AZ and hug a few cacti. The “ouch” will be worth it, truly!
Look for us at the Quartzsite RV Show where we’ll be showing our new products which are perfect for boondocking and solving the whole water pumping issues that come with boondocking.
Oh, and after the show, we’ll be hiking and watching the storm weather reports in Colorado (with silly grins plastered on our faces) under the awning our RV star gazing at Arizona’s clear cool nights.