Hundreds of thousands of snowbirds flock to the desert around Quartzsite, Arizona each winter. Quartzsite is a small town located along I-10 in western Arizona and surrounded by seemingly limitless public land. The obvious question then is why? Why Quartzsite?
After spending at least a bit of time in Quartzsite every winter since 2015 these are some of the popular reasons that I have heard as to why people go to Quartzsite.
It’s not Slab City
No offense intended to Slab City, of course, but many people find Slab City to be a bit much to handle. Quartzsite is very busy during the winter months, but it is also less intimidating to many snowbirds than Slab City.
Obviously very many vehicle dwelling snowbirds are not down on their luck, but there is often a perception that if a person is long-term camping or living in a car, van, SUV, etc. – anything other than a shiny RV – that they must be destitute, desperate, and even homeless. Living or long-term camping in a vehicle or other alternative situation is just part of the culture in Quartzsite.
No RV is required in Quartzsite! Come as you are with whatever vehicle you have and you are sure to fit in. Long-term camping or living in a van? That’s as normal as could be in Quartzsite. Long-term camping or living in a car? This is so common that you will not turn a single head in Quartzsite.
Many people return to Quartzsite over and over, year after year, for the community and social opportunities. It’s not uncommon to find snowbirds who not only return to Quartzsite each winter, but camp in the same spot with the same group of friends each year. There are also innumerable social events and opportunities all around Quartzsite throughout the winter months. Whatever your interest, there are certainly others who share it.
Many snowbirds come to Quartzsite in search of jobs. There are many winter jobs available in Quartzsite, and many companies come to Quartzsite (particularly during the big tent show) in search of workers for summer positions.
You can walk everywhere in Quartzsite, particularly if you are staying in any of the dozens of RV parks in town or at one of the northernmost Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVAs).
There are many RV parks in Quartzsite. Estimates ranges from 30+ to 50+ to as many as 70. No matter how you count though there are a lot of RV parks. Many offer very reasonable annual rates as well if you’re looking for a home base.
Enjoy cheap rent for the entire winter, whether you are staying at an RV park with a seasonal or annual rate or staying on an LTVA for only $180 for the entire season.
All You Need
Quartzsite is often touted as having everything you need. While this is true to some extent, it may also require you to be creative – or to adjust your idea of what you really need. It’s possible to spend an entire winter in Quartzsite though and never travel to a larger city.
You can camp in a tent in Quartzsite, if necessary. I don’t recommend it as the ground is rocky, the wind can be unrelenting and vicious, it will be cold on many nights (sometimes below freezing), and it may be surprisingly damp. Still, it’s possible if you are prepared and ready for some adventure (some would say hardship).
Quartzsite is friendly for the most part. You can always find an unpleasant individual anywhere you go, but most people in Quartzsite are rather friendly.
There are cheap (and even free) showers available in town. As simple as this sounds, there are very many communities where it’s hard to find a public shower.
Pay for your summer travel by working for one of the many vendors in Quartzsite during the winter season. Some snowbirds are even offered ongoing jobs to follow a vendor to summer locations.
Sell your own stuff if you have a product! Being a vendor in Quartzsite does require an Arizona sales tax number and a permit from the town, but both are fairly simple and inexpensive to obtain. Once you have these you will be able to rent a vendor stall and enjoy a massive customer base throughout the winter.
The weather is obviously a big reason many snowbirds come to Quartzsite. It’s the desert so it is much warmer and drier than many places in the US and Canada. Still, it can be surprisingly wet, cool (or even cold), and extremely windy at times.
There are many reasons why snowbirds choose to spend the winter in Quartzsite. Of course, not everyone cares for Quartzsite. In my case, it’s definitely not my favorite place to spend a winter. This is because Quartzsite doesn’t check enough boxes on my list of needs and preferences. It seems, however, that I’m in the minority in this regard.
What about you? Have you been to Quartzsite? If so what was your experience?