Quartzsite, Arizona is a weird little vortex of retirees camped out in the desert, endless swap meets, and oodles of rocks and fossils for sale. The small town comes alive in the winter as it fills with people searching for a bit of sun and a cheap cost of living. We knew about Quartzsite from my rock hound parents who love to come down and dry camp in the desert and search the markets for things they don’t need.
We camped out in a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) which is basically a place where you can dry camp in a designated area for free. We were surprised by the number of motorhomes, fifth wheels, and trailers scattered throughout the desert. We were definitely the smallest rig on the block especially when we compared our little van to the monstrous motorhomes with triple slides. Now those are houses on wheels!
Since many people are dry camping in the outskirts of Quartzsite many businesses in town cater to us cheap traveling folk. There are two laundromats in this tiny town (one wash for $2, dry for $1.50), oodles of propane pumps ($1.99 a gallon), dump stations for sewer ($15 for a big rig but only $2 for our little bitty porta-potty), and water stations for potable drinking water (25 cents per gallon). One could stay in this town all winter long for very little cash. The one down side we saw was the less than mediocre grocery store with overpriced groceries. I assume all the long termers do their big shop in Blyth, CA about 25 miles away.
We enjoyed wandering the swap meets and discovering all the beautiful rocks and fossils on display. Our visit coincided with the annual rock and gem show so things were hopping busy. The boys each had $40 from Grandma to spend in Quartzsite so lots of pretties were purchased by them.
The desert surrounding Quartzsite is great for exploring. We putt-putted down dirt roads and hunted for the beautiful rocks the town is famous for. We found some pretties including some small pieces of jasper, fossils, and petrified wood!
But our favourite part of the Quartzsite was camping out in the desert. This was the first place on our trip where we could actually take off our sweaters and put on our sandals. Ahhhh, warm weather. It doesn’t get much better than this.