There is something incongruous to my way of thinking about paying to stay at an RV park. Think about it – you spend thousands of dollars on a self-contained home on wheels, largely to avoid hotel fees, and then you wind up paying $35 just for a place to park at night. It seems doubly incongruous to use an RV park in the Southwest where, as far as the eye can see in all directions, there is vacant land. Obviously, no one is using all that land. Why can’t I use 100 square feet to park my trailer for the night?

Well, I am happy to report that the United States government has come around to seeing things my way. Actually, since 1983, unbeknownst to me, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has allowed free camping on its vast holdings of land. We’re talking millions of acres.

This happy situation first came to our attention when we started seeing and hearing references to the town of Quartzsite, AZ amongst the RV crowd and literature. What is so special about Quartzsite? we wondered. We rode through Quartzsite last September on our cross-country bicycle ride. What we remembered was a single, long, spread-out Main Street of barely functioning retail establishments. Curious, we revisited Quartzsite. Turns out, Quartzsite in February is completely different than Quartzsite in September. The difference is in the thermometer: 70 degrees vs. 110 degrees and BLM’s free camping policy. Each winter many thousands of RVers flock here for the pleasant weather and free camping. This little nothing of a town swells from about 3000 inhabitants to upwards of 300,000 in late January.

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QUARTZSITE IN JANUARY
And, of course, where there are people with money to spend, there will be vendors with merchandise to sell (note the big tent.)

We’re told we missed the peak crowd by a few weeks but there are still thousands of motorhomes and trailers here. We found a semi-secluded spot a few miles out of town surrounded by saguaro cactus and ironwood trees which suits us just fine.

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As readers may have noticed from my Death Valley post, I am fond of rocks. Quartzsite, as its name implies, has a connection with rocks. It is something of a Mecca for rock vendors. There are a slew of them and they have gorgeous rocks from all over the world. Curiously, I had little desire to add purchased rocks to my vast collection and I didn’t buy a single one. Somehow, only rocks that I find on the ground seem cool to me.

We are slowly making our way toward Tucson where our mail has been forwarded by Rachel to Mike Hatmaker’s house. Mike, get ready. We’re comin’ at ya.

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