Flea Market or Ghost Town?
Quartzsite, Arizona is a unique place. In the summer, the town is hot and quiet. There are huge empty lots, paved and unpaved that give you a hint that something big once happened here. As you drive through in July, you might think it was going to soon be on the list of Arizona ghost towns. Then you see the I-10 interstate, the fuel stations with a few fast food joints and you realize it's not quite a ghost town. There are probably still a thousand or more summer residents but they are not outside melting on the pavement for you to see them. It just looks more quiet in the heat of the day.
I-10 runs east-west through town while US 95 runs north-south. The town was founded after a good water supply was found and a stage stop was built. Railroads just about put the town under but then gold and a high concentration of Quartz brought the town back to life with the name Quartzsite . After dying once again, it was brought back to life in the 1960s for a mineral and gem show. The warm weather helped bring people from all over.
World's Largest Flea Market
So then you come to Quartzsite in January and find quite a different situation. It becomes one of the worlds largest flea markets. The town hosts a million visitors to tent shows featuring RVs, rocks, minerals and gems and more. If you are looking for anything related to your RV or full time lifestyle, this is probably the place to find it at a reasonable price. There is a two week RV show in January so make sure you come then if you are looking for RV related items. You can also find everything else, from tools to crafts for a fraction of the normal store prices.
The people are nice and characters abound. It's a good place to become a boondocking expert. You can see what and how others do it in the best ways. And probably the worst too but don't do that stuff.
Where to Stay
You can stay at a RV park around town, if you have reservations, or you can do like most people and stay out on BLM land. You can get a $40 pass for 14 days or $180 for 7 months, either on-site or at the Yuma BLM field office, and pick a piece of dirt.
Our pick is to stay within a few miles of town. You can set up your camp and if you're carrying one, bike it into town. You can use a toad but the roads and parking situation right in town becomes quite a mess with all the people. Or maybe talk to some neighbors and see if a bunch of people can go to town together to reduce the traffic. There is BLM land called the La Posa Long Term Visitor Area , within walking distance as well but of course it's busier the closer you get to town. This is not a RV park however, roads are mostly dirt and can be nice or rough depending on where you go. You don't get any real amenities but you do have 10 handicap accessible vault toilets, dry dump station, dump station with water, water station with a half dozen faucets and trash service.
How long should you plan to stay?
Many people stay a couple weeks, the length of their BLM pass. But many people stay for a month or more. Even the whole winter. The weather is moderate and usually nice in the winter. But don't fool yourself into a dream. It is common to have some freezing nights and very windy days as cold fronts move on by. That is still warmer than Minnesota but it's not a beach in Florida either. You can take Highway 95 down to Yuma, which many snowbirds do and go back and forth to Quartzsite.
Everyone should attend the peak weeks for the craziness and fun of it all but also recommend trying a should week before or after the shows. The crowds are smaller and it's easier to get around but the fun is still there.