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Slowed down in Quartzsite

I have discovered that Quartzsite has its own pace, and it is slow. People drive slowly. They walk slowly. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because they savor what there is to see. But I have had to adapt to this, since it is not my usual mode to move slowly.

In Quartzsite itself, there is not much. The town is dominated by a series of permanent flea markets, including one called “The Big Event”, and several satellite markets. These are motley collections of tents and a few permanent structures, filled with whatever vendors go along with various “shows”: rocks & minerals at Tyson Wells, more rocks at Desert Gardens, “stuff” at The Main Event, etc. To explore all of them, you must be patient. It literally will take days to walk all of the possible flea markets. This seems to be a primary activity for the people who are here.

The town also features all the things that RV’ers on a budget tend to value: truck-stop-type gas stations, a zillion barbecue restaurants, discount groceries (several run from tents), RV supplies, propane tools, and all the usual types of fairground snack foods. Once you’ve seen that, you have to dig a bit to figure out what to do.


I drove around a little to see what else was in the area. I found seemingly endless expanses of RVs spread out across the desert in LTVAs and other unmanaged desert areas. They go for miles in every direction. I was more than five miles outside Quartzsite’s official boundary on Rt 95 before I saw desert without little white dots of RVs.

kofa-nwr-palm-canyon.jpgQuartzsite is near several pretty mountain ranges. The Kofa National Wildlife Refuge is not far away, and it has a lot of dirt and 4WD roads the bring you to tinajas, canyons, historic sites, and hikes. Bighorn sheep live up in the mountains too. I took a 7-mile washboard dirt road into Kofa because it led to the only palm canyon in all of Arizona — and I couldn’t miss that.

The hike to see the palms is only about 1/2 mile, but it is moderately steep. The views from the canyon of the desert floor are worth the trip alone, but with the prospects of bighorn sheep and a palm oasis, I felt the hike was a must-do. Unfortunately, no bighorns today.

It has been unusually quiet at Quartzsite this year, say the vendors. They are blaming $3/gallon gasoline. Hardly anyone seems to be selling much. But there are still thousands of RVs here (although they are hard to spot since they are so widely scattered), so there may be more to it than just expensive fuel.

Adapting to the leisure life, I am beginning to see how people fill up their days here. I filled my propane tank this morning and did a little grocery shopping. Then I drove out to Kofa and hiked for a while. Then a trip to the post office, some browsing of flea markets, and before you know it, it’s 4 p.m. and the sun is beginning to settle down to the west. Time to fire up a few burgers before it gets cold, and then retreat inside with a book, a friend, or TV for the evening. That’s the pace of Quartzsite.

Solar power report: at 9 a.m. batteries were at -58 amps. At 4 p.m. we had gained 29 amps, for a net of -29 amps. I did better on solar gain today because I didn’t use much power during the day. Yesterday I worked on the laptop for five hours, which dinged my overall gain for the day, and I forgot to account for that when I was figuring my power budget. Today it was less sunny (some thin cirrus clouds) and yet I got 4 net amps more.

One Response to “Slowed down in Quartzsite”

  1. Jay and Cherie Guerin Says:

    For a really lonely setting, take the trailer a few miles north of Quartzsite on the main highway, then turrn off to the right on the Bouse road. You can pull off that road most anywhere and boondock.

    We cycled that road and found it to be one of the most scenic in that part of the state.

    Hope to head that way in about 3 weeks.