Paradise Lost

After almost 2 years of planning, hundreds of YouTube videos, and over 2 months of traveling, we finally landed in Quartzsite, Arizona. Land of the eternal RV paradise and Mecca of the full time traveler. Finally, we were here.

And a week later, we left.

After all the hype and hoopla, all the videos and blogs extolling the wonders of this incredible promised land, to us at least, it fell flat.

To be fair, we tried. We tried very hard. First impressions weren’t fantastic, but we felt we had to give it a fair shake. After all, all the YouTube gurus swore it was the place to be for the winter.

But I’m still trying to figure out why.

Quartzsite itself is a tiny little town, situated in the desert where two highways cross, miles from anywhere. At first glance, it has a very run-down appearance. Corrugated metal pieces and plastic orange landscape fencing form boundaries between properties, front yards are full of all sorts of oxidized metal objects and other assorted junk, hand-painted, misspelled signs advertise shops and businesses. Civic pride seems to be all but non-existent, save for a couple of RV parks with a few well placed palm trees, and even those are just gravel parking lots.

When we stopped at the Long Term Visitors Area to purchase our permit for the winter, one of the very first things we were asked was “Do you have a way to securely lock up your generator? It’s the first thing they go after.”

Great, who’s “they”? I’ll sleep well tonight. And although nothing actually happened, the town was the kind of place that made me want to lock my doors while I drive through it. Just to be on the safe side.

There were a few ‘nice’ communities on the outskirts of town. Gated. This also didn’t do anything to settle my suspicions. Was it the influx of travelers and out-of-towners they were trying to keep at bay? Or their own townspeople? Everywhere you looked there was a definitive line drawn between the haves and the have-nots. What seemed to be lacking was a sign of any sort of middle ground anywhere. Townies were either at the top of the heap, or down-and-out, and the latter certainly made up the majority.

Small wonder. The reason becomes evident when you start shopping. Being miles from anywhere, I expected the prices in Quartzsite to be somewhat higher than larger towns, but wow! $4.35 for a loaf of bread? We’re outside the realm of reality here. Just about everything in Quartsite (except gas) fell into the higher price bracket. To the point where it made more sense to drive the 30 mile trip to Parker to get cheaper groceries, or even the 75 miles to Lake Havasu, if you wanted real selection. Which we did. Twice.

The other thing that everyone who loves Quartzsite seems to mention is the “Big Tent”, an enormous outdoor flea market geared toward RV’ers that goes on from November through to March. Again, I wish to be fair here. There are only a handful of vendors set up and selling right now, with the lion’s share of sellers to show up in January when things really get rocking. But the ones that are here seem to be intent on making their year’s income in a month or so. Prices were ridiculously high, like 20-30% higher than retail in some cases. I’m not sure where all the ‘great deals’ were that YouTube promised, but I didn’t see any. Perhaps the prices will drop when more competition shows up after the holidays. I certainly hope so for the shoppers who stay.

Please understand, this is not coming from some diva temper tantrum. I was raised in a very small town and I certainly wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. And I’m not warning anyone off or telling them not to go there. Go. Visit. Make up your own mind. I’m just giving you my take on the place. I wanted to like Quartzsite. After hearing about it for 2 years and all the wonderful things people said about it, I really wanted to like it. After all, we had planned to spend most of the winter here.

But I didn’t like it. And neither did Mike. To the point where I didn’t even bother to take any photos to post with this entry. It just wasn’t worth it.

So after a long heart-to-heart and a lengthy drive to check out the other areas that our winter permit covered, we found the Imperial Dam site just outside of Yuma. Out of the 7 LTVA areas, it has the most amenities (even showers) and the shopping in Yuma is far superior. We’ve only been here a day so far, but it already seems better. Time will tell.

We’d love to hear from you!
Your ideas, your questions, your thoughts, your suggestions.  What topics would you like to see us post about?  C’mon guys, I know we’re not alone out here.  Let your voice be heard!!  Comment below or message us here!

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19 thoughts on “Paradise Lost

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  1. Not sure what blogs hyped up Q, but it certainly isn’t high on our list. The only reason we’d ever return is to connect with fellow RVers. We enjoy Havasu but if you’re looking for long term boondocking then the Yuma area is the place to be. Hope it works for you. If you get bored, there’s other options for meandering around the state.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mike has been following the video blogs of Bob Wells and Enigmatic Nomadic Jamie, as well as a number of smaller ones. They’ve been raving about it forever. Just don’t get it. The place is a dive. Yuma seems so much nicer! Thanks for stopping by!


  2. Thank you for your honest view. I have not been to Quartsite but it is one of the places we want to check out eventually. I have not looked that far into it but did think it was mainly a Jan and Feb event, if we do eventually go I will be sure to stock up on supplies before we get there. Hope you enjoy Yuma!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We were scheduled to go out there with a group in January but got over-committed to other things and had to cancel. I’m sorta glad we did, because we were feeling squishy about it. After reading this, I feel better about the decision. By the way, I have a great appreciation for good writing and a style that interests the reader. Nice job.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Kelley and Mike, don’t apologize for what you see. That’s what we like about your comments. They are real, fair and unbiased, You have found positive things to say about places I’ve been that I wasn’t impressed with when I was there. Clearly it was a disappointment for you, so better things ahead. I’ve noticed out west and south, folks are very territorial. They like to mark their boundries. I believe it’s in their DNA. “They” could be anyone that wants to steal and vandalize. What’s scarier for me, is that everyone has a gun. Not so much the thieves, as the property owners. It’s definitely not CANADA. Kinda opposite of Newfoundland, in my opinion. I find everything is “gated” in the warmer climates. I’m curious how you’ll see things. I need to write you a longish email. You won’t believe what we bought. I still can’t believe it. xox Stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We’ve never been, Kelley. Like Ingrid, we would probably only go to connect with fellow RVers…but even then, it appears to be too crowded for our tastes. That, and we are huge fans of Florida’s climate.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for your honesty. That was how we’ve felt when we finally made it to Wilmington- we really wanted to like it! Now we know we won’t waste time trying to go to Quartzite when we get out west!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really hate to give anything a bad review, but I just couldn’t see what all the celebrity you tubers were raving about. And I certainly don’t mean to drive people away from it. Just putting my own opinion out there. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What surprised us about Quartsite is all the RVer’s that dry camp out in the desert around there. Not for us, I like power without a generator and water and sewer hook ups. 🙂 Especially, for lengthy stays. We’ve never stayed right at Quartsite and the last time we were there the wind was so strong we didn’t feel like getting sandblasted at the market.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dry camp is basically all we do and very rarely use a proper park. Out in the desert was actually really nice, especially at night. And we have enough solar to avoid running the genny much. But the town itself just didn’t turn me on at all. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi 2 Hearts and 2 Wheels ,thought I would ad a little bit to your Quartzite post. We have never been down to Quartzite as early in the season as late nov , so can’t comment on that , we tend to arrive at the end of Jan each year , we are boondockers and stay out at south La Posa LTVA , and we tend to stay for 1-2weeks and then we move on to another BLM area. In the 4years we have stayed there ,there has never been any fear of anything being stolen or unsavoury snoopers checking out our site. South La Posa is a few miles off the main drag , so maybe being not so close to town you are more insulated from the bad crowd? Jan into feb has the town quite busy with the flee markets and RV show etc. We travel with an ORV , so Quartzite is a very popular spot with lots of great off roading ,so you will find a lot of like minded people in the same area.we have friends that setup and stay a lot of the winter there,and enjoy their time there,as for us ,well we like variety,so we tend to move.Last year , we poked in to Imperial Dam ,and had a look ,but did not stay , the wife was concerned about how far to drive to get a jug of milk! I enjoy reading your blog ,and look forward to your thoughts on the Imperial Dam area! Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Bill, thanks for stopping by! I appreciate your input, but it was the lady that checked us in to Tyson Wash La Posa (across the road from South La Posa) that warned us about the generators, so they’ve apparently had that sort of trouble before, regardless of how far out of town they are. As I said, nothing actually happened, but it just didn’t leave us with a good feeling. We’re much more at ease here in Imperial Dam. Yes, it’s a bit of a drive to get milk, (about 20 minutes), at least I’m not paying double when I get there.
      Glad you enjoy Q, it just wasn’t for us. Hope you have a wonderful stay and safe travels!


  9. Hi Mike & Kelley, just wanted to thank you for your input. We spent 3 weeks in Q and OMG we could not wait to get out. We found the place expensive, barren and desolate add to that the ‘older’ crowd driving their ATV’s with goggles on like Mad Max – too much. The threat of theft was told to us also. Plus our neighbour kept telling us about coyotes being in our campsite and snakes etc. He wanted us gone. So when we finished our solar projects we went. We’re in a resort now in California, booked until March but intend to go to Q for the event in January for a week. Part of us feels like we bailed on our boondocking plan but at the same time this particular resort is feeling ‘safe’ after our experience in Q. We have the option to tour around after Christmas so we’ll see how we feel then. Glad you followed your gut and did what was right for you, perhaps we’ll see you again (the first being Vernon) in January for the big event. — Katie

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The only reason we go to quartzsite is for the RTR, if it weren’t for that, I’m not sure that we would have a good reason to return. So many people swarm there, it gets so crowded, there are so many other places in the country that are bit more attractive, and less people.

    Liked by 1 person

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