You should definitely put rv adventures in Quartzsite, Arizona, on your to-do list. It's a sleepy little town much of the year, lying about 20 miles east of the California border and two hours west of Phoenix on Interstate 10. But make your visit in the winter when things are definitely not so sleepy.
"A good traveler has no fixed plans,
and is not intent on arriving." — Lao Tzu
Considered a paradise for rockhounds since the 1960s, the town enjoys well over a million visitors each year, most of them RVers who start arriving in the fall and may make this part of the desert their home for anywhere from a few weeks to six months - full of rv adventures in Quartzsite. Many of them boondock or dry-camp on BLM land in the desert, but there are RV parks in the town itself for those who want or need more amenities. During January and February especially, this town rocks.
According to the AZ Highway Department, anywhere from 750,000 to one million people come from all over to experience the annual Giant Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show, which got its start over 40 years ago.
As if that weren’t enough, there is also a Hobby, Craft & Gem Show and the Rock & Roll Classic Car Show. There is just no end to rv adventures in Quartzsite.
If you're a golfer, there are a few courses in Lake Havasu City, as well as one in Blythe, CA.
If the big shows don’t get you excited, there are roughly 2000 vendors of rocks, gems, fossils, minerals, and just about anything else you can think of, in one of the world’s largest open air flea markets. It’s truly an amazing place.
There's even a special area out there in the desert for folks who don't like to wear clothes. I warn you, though, it does get cold in the desert.
There are a couple of small grocery markets in town, but when I was there in early 2009, I found their selection expensive and a bit disappointing. The town of Parker is 35 miles north, home to a Wal-Mart and a casino. Blythe, CA, is just 25 miles west on I-10, and has a real supermarket.
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, there are many wonderful places to explore and hike in the desert surrounding the town. On the Palm Canyon Trail you’ll find California Fan Palms, native to Arizona, growing tucked up in the canyon.
The Kofa National Wildlife Refuge encompasses over 600,000 acres and is home to desert bighorn sheep as well as the fan palms and the needle-sharp Kofa Mountains. It’s gorgeous, though the drive out is a rugged 7-miles; I drove my Corolla and it was manageable, but it would have been better to have 4-wheel drive or an ATV.
Imperial National Wildlife Refuge is 50 miles south of Quartzsite, on the way to Yuma, protecting wildlife habitat along the lower Colorado River. The river and surrounding lakes and backwaters create a green oasis in sharp contrast to the surrounding desert.
Lake Havasu, AZ, 50 miles north, created by one of the many dams on the Colorado River, is home to the London Bridge. The Bridge had begun to sink into the River Thames and in 1968, the city of London decided to sell it for 2.5 million dollars to Robert P. McCulloch, founder of Lake Havasu City. It took McCulloch three years and another seven million dollars to take it apart, ship it, and put it back together in Lake Havasu.
Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge, a bit south of Lake Havasu, is a unique ecosystem providing good habitat to both resident and migratory birds. Gorgeous scenery in the chocolate-colored Buckskin Mountaints, and a great place to take your canoe or kayak.
So, whatever your passion – RVs, rocks, gems, classic cars, hiking, golfing, or kayaking – if you spend some time planning rv adventures in Quartzsite, you won’t be disappointed
Frugal Shunpikers Guides to RV Boondocking - If you love boondocking, you'll find these books invaluable. There are two new ones that cover California. Definitely check them out!