Anyone who’s been into RVing long enough to think about escaping the snow-belt for winter is likely aware of that Mecca for RVers, Quartzsite, Arizona.
During the winter months, over 1 million visitors come to this little town in the Arizona desert to enjoy the mild temperatures and social gatherings that make this one of the premiere winter destinations in the country.
Camping Options Near Quartzsite, Arizona
The big question on the minds of most would-be Quartzsite visitors is, “When I get there, where will I stay?”
In town there are an amazing quantity of RV parks, all offering full hookups and the usual amenities you’ll find at any number of RV parks across the country.
Surrounding Quartzsite, in pretty much all directions, are many thousands of acres of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land ideal for boondocking. With no hookups and no electricity provided, if you need it you’ll have to bring it (or make it) yourself.
Don’t forget your RV generator and gas cans when you head out into the BLM land. Here’s my setup.
Both options are plenty popular, and during the busy months of January and February, you’ll find crowds no matter where you go. In the end it all boils down to what matters most to you. Here are my personal thoughts on how to camp at Quartzsite.
Staying at an RV Park Around Quartzsite
You have full hookups. Once you set up camp, there’s no real need to move your RV again until the heat of summer is making you uncomfortable, and a cooler climate takes priority.
Most RV parks have a community building, and many of the parks offer a very active social life. Dances and jams are held every week that draw in people from all over town. This is a very friendly place that welcomes all. Potluck dinners, poker tournaments, and ice cream socials are often just a few steps outside your door.
Monthly rates are about the lowest you’ll find anywhere in the country. If you stay for the year, rent can be as low as $1,000 for the entire year. Go to Florida in the peak season and that may get you a spot for a month. Even if you stay for only one or two months you can secure a spot for $180 to $200 per month in most parks.
The key to making money for RV Park owners is to squeeze as many RVs onto the park property as possible. At Quartzsite, you’ll be lined up like sardines in a can. Space is at a premium, and if it’s a good year (for the park owners) you can expect very close neighbors.
It’s hard to get away when you’re packed into an RV park.
The RV parks tend to fill up quickly. Reservations may be required to secure a spot during the peak two months (January and February). You’ll have an easier time finding a spot if you arrive any time besides those two months.
Boondocking Outside of Quartzsite
Camping on BLM land is very cheap, or can be absolutely free! You can camp at a number of open desert areas for 14 days for free. If you want to stay in the area, move down the road 24 miles and you can stay another 14 days.
You can also stay 2 weeks in one of the LTVA (Long Term Visitor Areas) for $40, or the entire season for $180.
You have tons of space! I currently have at least an acre to myself, and I’m only 5 minutes from the center of town. My spot is located a few hundred feet off a black top service road so there is no real amount of dust being kicked up.
Spacious camping at the LTVA. My rig is on the far right.
This is a very quiet, peaceful, and safe place to be. Garbage service is provided, and driving to a free dump station and fresh water station is only about 10 minutes away.
Once you are parked and all set up, you’ll have to pack up and drive to the only dump station provided for all four of the LTVA’s. There are only two dump receptacles, so during the busy months expect to wait in line for your turn. Fresh water is a little easier. There are 8 faucets, so that line progresses a bit faster.
Tandem dump station at the LTVA.
Your choices for electricity are either solar or generator. Adequate solar panels and batteries to cover your needs are a serious investment. On the other hand generators, especially when used liberally, will drink up a lot gas. My personal experience has been about $20 per week in generator gas, which adds up to $80 a month.
For the most part there are no social activities held in the BLM camping areas. Unless you stay with a specific group that you are already connected with, your space is your space. People tend to keep to themselves.
When it’s all said and done, there’s no real economic advantage to either staying at an RV park or boondocking on BLM land near Quartzsite. Lot rent, and the cost of the annual permit and generator gas, make either choice comparable. I’m spending my first season here in La Posa North, the LTVA that is closest to town.
I’m comfortable, and feel completely safe in this location, only a few blocks from the center of town.
I would feel equally safe and comfortable in any of the other tree LTVAs a few short miles away.
Now that I know the cost of staying in a local RV park, I’ll most likely switch to that option if I decide to return next year. Being able to watch my flat screen TV without the need to monitor my batteries just makes life simpler. The social activities, restaurants, and gathering places will be even closer to me.
If you tend to feel claustrophobic when other RVers park close to you, the desert may the best option for you. For me, the full hookups is a pretty strong draw.
Either choice will afford you the opportunity to spend your winter as you wish. There’s even a clothing optional area called the Magic Circle located in La Posa South LTVA. Yes, all are welcome here in the desert around Quartzsite, Arizona. 🙂