My brother, Larry, is a rockhound from way back. He and his wife Terry went with us to the Gem and Mineral Show in Tucson last winter and at that time we discussed the possibility of going to Quartzsite. We realized that it would be a different kind of camping than we were used to. It would be "boondocking", camping without sewer, water and electrical hookups. It would also be camping where we wanted to (almost) and not where we were told to. We could choose to camp in one of several Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVAs) operated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or we could avoid those areas and find our own private campsite with as many or as few neighbors as we wanted. We opted for seclusion.
Quartzsite is well known by snowbirds all over North America as a boondocker's paradise and as a result the LTVAs can get really crowded there in the winter months. The site we found was away from them. About eight miles south of town we found a gravel road that followed a pipeline easement. We took that west about a half mile across BLM land and there we found several areas of desert pavement that made perfect campsites.
Desert pavement, or desert asphalt as it is sometimes called, is an area of small rocks that have naturally settled into a relatively smooth, level and stable surface. It can vary in size from a few square yards to thousands of square yards and there are untold numbers of places to camp. These areas are public land and you can camp there for free. The LTVAs are on public land also, but access is controlled at an entrance gate and there is a user fee associated with them. The LTVAs offer a place to get water, unload holding tanks and dispose of trash. The cost is $40 for two weeks or $180 for the season. The open areas don't offer those services, but there are plenty of places in town where you can get them for a minimal fee.
Our campsite was nestled among several saguaro cacti and adjacent to a dry wash. We had no neighbors, no traffic, no dust and, of course, no rain. What we did have was a week of peace and quiet, a shady dry creek bed for daily walks and exploring, millions of stars at night, lots of time for cooking, cocktails, visiting, and naps. We made a couple of trips to town for shopping at the many vendors there, fresh water, and lunch at the Quartzsite Yacht Club! That's right, a yacht club, and the closest body of water is miles away.
We spent about week there, then started back towards Albuquerque where Larry and Terry would catch an airplane back to Austin. On our way back we stopped for a couple nights at Sky City Casino. We aren't casino people, but it was convenient, uncrowded and close to El Malpais National Monument, which we wanted to visit.
We spent a day exploring the area before continuing on to Albuquerque. We dropped off our fellow campers and continued on our way back home to Angel Fire where we would have to re-winterize the trailer until next time.