Quartzsite, Arizona is the center of a wide-open desert frontier where a cornucopia of people can bring their ideas of how to live without much interference. It is as close to freedom as anyone can hope for. Your domain is exactly as big as you care to park away from other people. But you’ll need to be mostly self-sufficient if you want to stay for a long time.
The easiest way to visit Quartzsite is to stay at one of the seventy or so campgrounds. Many offer full hookups and are close to town, at $12 a day and up. But for the full experience, you’ll want to be camped in the desert, which means you need to bring the ability to conserve resources.
Any electricity you need in an LTVA, you make on the spot with solar panels or gas generators. Sunshine comes for free almost every day, which makes solar power a very popular option among the RV visitors.
At the La Posa South site (part of the overall La Posa LTVA), there is access to potable water, a dump station, sparsely scattered dumpsters, and pit toilets. They can be located on maps available at the entry gates. In other areas of the LTVA, you can pay a roving water truck for fresh water refills by the gallon, and pump-outs are available on the same basis. Dumping gray water in the desert is not allowed.
Winter temperatures can be very chilly at night, so bring plenty of propane for heat. Keep your possessions well secured, not only against theft, but the frequent windy days that can relocate things for you.
The Q Laundromat is an oasis to the water-conscious boondocker. There, you can take as long a hot shower as you want, in a clean (albeit somewhat small) locked cubicle. It’s $6 for the shower and they provide a towel, washcloth, foot towel, shampoo, and soap. All you provide is the dirty body, and while you are luxuriating in the shower, your clothes are washing too.
A produce market under a plastic tarp tent, across from the main Post Office, has reasonable prices on fresh produce. A meat counter at the General Store that has cuts that can’t be found in some larger towns. There are also dented-can stores at the west end of Quartzsite at the end of the main street with a surprising selection of damaged goods at fair prices.
For a meal out, Quartzsite does have several restaurants, but most of them are crowded during the winter, and several close ridiculously early. Nightlife in Quartzsite revolves around the campfire or having dinner with friends in your RV.
There are several seasonal RV places for hitches, parts, repairs, or sales, as well as at least two solar panel installers. In addition, Quartzsite does have a couple of discount stores, and a hardware store that really is a hardware store.
LTVA permits can be obtained at the entrance gates of the LTVAs. There are no discounts for holders of Golden Eagle, Golden Age, Golden Access or “America the Beautiful” passes, but the LTVA permits are cheap enough.
Pets are allowed in the LTVAs but must be on leash, and the BLM warns that coyotes are a danger. RVs with commercial signage on them are prohibited in the LTVAs, so if your rig says, “John’s Plumbing” on it, you’ll be required to cover the sign during your stay. Other rules apply too, so be sure to pick up a copy of “Long Term Camping on Public Lands,” available at the LTVA entrance stations.
Everything else that you might need to know about camping at Quartzsite can be picked up the first time you go, just by meeting and talking with other campers. Even though the number of RVs has dropped off in recent years, it’s still a highly popular destination and there are many thousands of new friends to make at this strange and uniquely American desert phenomenon.
-By Rich Luhr