The Rubber Tramp Rendezvous is an annual gathering each January near Quartzsite, Arizona. The RTR, which is organized by Bob Wells, is based on the fur trader rendezvous of a previous era. While the winter RTR is held annually, there have only been a few summer RTRs.
The 2016 Summer RTR was planned for June 16 – 26 in the Coconino National Forest near Flagstaff, Arizona. The event kicked off with a good-sized group, with many people arriving one or two days early. I was one of the early arrivals, and rolled in with the first group of nomads.
While the Summer RTR was intentionally kept more informal than the January gatherings, there was still a daily group assembly around mid-day that included any pertinent announcements along with a discussion or presentation on topics of interest to rubber tramps like solar power and boondocking.
Sadly, the 2016 Summer RTR turned out to be too successful and ended up being cut short. Group events that have more than 75 people and are held in a national forest require an advance permit from the U.S. Forest Service. Forest rangers visited the gathering and calculated the number of people in attendance to be above 75, though counts conducted by those at the gathering showed the attendance to be below 75. Despite the discrepancy, the Summer RTR was shut down and everyone was ordered to vacate the site.
Following the early ending of the Summer RTR, people scattered individually and in small groups. The group that I left with went first to the Kaibab National Forest near Williams, Arizona for one night. We then migrated to a campsite at about 8,500′ elevation at the base of Humphreys Peak north of Flagstaff.
The Summer RTR was a great experience, despite being cut short by the permit problem. The gathering provided an opportunity to learn from presentations and informal conversations as well as to form new friendships. The Summer RTR was attended by a surprising number of new vandwellers as well as seasoned nomads who have been on the road for many years.