IT’S THE END OF OCTOBER 2022 and a lot of you are probably starting to think about where you’re going to camp for the winter. I think Quartzsite, Arizona, is a really good place to consider spending at least part of your of your winter season. I’ll give you seven reasons why you would think about it, and the three reasons why you might not — because nowhere is perfect.


Most places I go I feel out of place. If you’re living in a car, van or RV, or an old beat up ambulance, you just don’t quite fit in the world of homes and neighborhoods. You’re an outsider, not part of the community. You will not feel that way in Quartzsite. The place is designed with us in mind. Everywhere you go you’ll see people just like you in cars, tents, vans, RVs — anything but a house. A lot of nomads. People just like you and me. So it’s a community. You will feel at home. 

Not only that, it’s where we hold the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous where you can meet other vehicle dwellers, share stories, help each other and probably make lifelong friends. Women’s RTR will be January 7-12, 2023, and the main RTR where everyone’s welcome is the 13th through the 20th. So come for the RTR if you don’t come to Quartzsite for any other reason. See details here.


With the flood of winter visitors like us, tiny Quartzsite needs people to work in shops, restaurants and other service industries. And if you have special skills, like mechanical, RV repair, and solar, you can find work as well. And some places just need manual labor to set up and take down booths and handle supplies. These job are available right now, at the beginning of the snowbird season. Fewer will be available as the season progresses, and by March the jobs will be over as the crowd thins out.

What’s more, if you need work during the summer and fall, recruiters will be at the annual Big Tent show. They represent companies who supply seasonal workers for campgrounds, resorts, visitor centers, guide companies and such. You can find out what type of opening they’re hiring for, fill out an application, have an interview and, pending a background check, walk out with a job commitment.

Lots of easy camping

Quartzsite is surrounded by public land. Most of it is free dispersed camping. There is enough room for everything from individuals to sizable groups. Just get your free 14-day permit from a camp host and pick a spot. However, after two weeks you’ll need to relocate out of the area for another 14 days before returning.

If you want to stay the whole season without leaving, plus have water, trash and dump facilities, there are the Long Term Visitor Areas that are $180 for the entire period between September 15 to April 15. That’s a bargain!

If you want a full hookup site, there are many RV parks throughout Quartzsite.

Designed for people like us

Snowbirds are critical to Quartzite’s economy, so it has vehicle dweller services that are often harder to find elsewhere. There are multiple places for bulk water and propane, dump stations, a free waste transfer station for your trash, solar experts, places with free wifi, laundromats, and even public showers.

What’s more, there are a couple of places that sell discounted groceries, personal care and hygiene products. This is overstocked, expired, or scratch ’n’ dent merchandise, and you never know what they might have, but I can attest the quality is good.

You can camp close to town

When I say Quartzsite is surrounded by public land, I mean it’s literally at the edge of town. It’s possible to camp within walking or cycling distance. So you could go into town for supplies without needing to break camp and burn gas. If you camp farther out and have an ATV or side-by-side, you can drive it on the streets without any hassles.

Central to other things

You can go in several directions from Quartzsite for other public land and dispersed camping, plus towns with greater resources.

To the south is more camping at the KOFA wildlife preserve, the Imperial Dam LTVA, and Mittry Lake wildlife area.

There’s Yuma (with three-and-a-half Walmarts among other things); and Los Algodones, Mexico where you can get high quality but deeply discounted medications, dental work and eyeglasses.

West of Yuma, across the Colorado River in California, is more public land, including sand dunes and an LTVA with a hot spring.

West of Quartzsite there’s Ehrenberg AZ with more dispersed camping. Across the river is Blythe CA with more supply options that include a good hardware store, an Albertson’s and a Smart & Final market. Joshua Tree National Park is about an hour away.

North of Quartzite is Parker with a Walmart, Safeway, and other services, plus nearby public land. Many nomads will stock up in Parker, spend their 14 days in Quartzsite, return to Parker to resupply and camp two weeks nearby, then repeat the process. North of Parker is Lake Havasu City with public land on the south and north sides of town, as well as Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart and a hospital. And the lake, of course.

To the east… well… it’s about a hundred miles to the Phoenix metro area, with not much along the way. But Phoenix has absolutely everything — except convenient free camping.


If you’re not the cooking type, you have plenty of restaurants in Quartzsite. There are the usual fast food chains, plus mom & pop restaurants, and various pop-up-for-the-season food joints among the vendor tents. Pizza, Mexican, BBQ, Chinese, homestyle, whatever. As a bonus, there’s free wifi at the fast food places.

Those are reasons I think nomads should come to Quartzite. But what about reasons you might want to give the place a pass? Here are three.

It can be very crowded

When you have a hundred thousand people in a town of 2,000, yeah, there are lines, and traffic jams (especially around the Big Tent area) and slow service and short tempers. Even parts of the surrounding desert can get crowded. Where did all these people come from?

Limited shopping

There are a couple of locally owned and operated groceries (one of which has an excellent butcher) but their selection is limited and the prices are very high. There are a couple of dollar stores, but they’re crowded and they’re constantly selling out of things. The best hardware store closed. One of the tire shops is gone. That’s why visitors tend to go to neighboring towns for supplies.

The weather

It’s the Arizona desert so it should be sunny and warm all the time, right? No. While Quartzsite is certainly warmer than the northern tier of states, it can get cold, with possibly freezing temperatures, surprising and disappointing visitors who brought only shorts and t-shirts. 

And it’s windy, with days of 20 MPH winds and 50 MPH gusts. And wind means dust. And blown down tents. And blown away awnings.

And there’s occasional rain— rain that can cause flash flooding or puddle up in your campsite.

So, there’s my list. What have I forgotten? What are your pros and cons of coming to Quartzsite? Add them to the comments.

Al’s Additions to the List:


It’s where I meet up with my nomad friends — people I haven’t seen in months or years.

If you get far enough away from the center of things, away from the freeway traffic, the loud vehicles and generators, there’s total peace and quiet. But if you want to party, that’s available, too.

The desert is beautiful, majestic, and humbling. OMG, the sunsets!


It’s a long way to go if you’re not already in the region.

If your tastes or dietary needs aren’t in the middle of the mainstream, you’ll probably have trouble finding things to eat. 

Some of the visitors make me angry. Clueless drivers, people with no respect for the environment or the camping regulations, self-important jerks… You know, the same type of folks you encounter in “normal” life. But I know that’s not any of you.