RV Boondocking Capital of the World

Quartzsite, Arizona, a Sonora Desert community 18 miles east of the Colorado River, on I-10, is the RV Boondocking Capital of the World.

Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.
Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The term boondocking, also known to RV enthusiasts as dispersed campingdry camping, or coyote camping, is used to describe camping in the midst of nature without the use of commercial campgrounds and hookups.

As you approach Quartzsite from any point on the compass, you begin seeing them approximately 20 miles away from town: clumps, groups, and temporary communities of RVs circled around common campfire rings like wagon trains of old. Many solo units also are scattered among the sagebrush. In early morning and late afternoon you will see tall, straight fingers of campfire smoke pointing upward from these campsites.

Hundreds of thousands of RV owners, enthusiasts, and dreamers descend on the flat, rocky desert fields surrounding the town. Folks come from all over the US and Canada to behold the wonder that happens in Quartzsite every January and February. They come for the warm sunny weather, and great deals—what more can you ask for?

As you enjoy your time at Q, you can also prepare for your next boondocking trip by getting tips on techniques and hotspots from all the new friends you’ll make. Plus with so many RV experts around if something does go wrong, help is just a short walk away.

Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February
Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You can find everything from geodes to GPS devices, and frying pans to dream catchers.  If you can’t find it at Quartzsite, it probably doesn’t exist!

The desert landscape is transformed into make-shift RV parks, little cities within a city. The streets have no name, but the purpose is the same—to boondock in the desert, rendezvous with old and new friends, visit the rock and gem shows and flea market vendors, participate in the Sell-A-Rama, wander the RV show under the Big Tent, and soak in the wonder of it all.

Quartzsite has become a mecca to visitors and exhibitors for rocks, gems, mineral specimens, and fossils during the town’s famous two-month-long gem and mineral show and flea market meet every January and February. From its humble beginnings the now-massive Quartzsite show has grown to epic proportions with vendors offering everything under the Quartzsite sun.

While in Quartzsite, check out the Hi Jolly Monument which honors the Arab camel driver, Hadji Ali, who took part in an unsuccessful 1850’s U.S. War Department attempt to use camels as beasts of burden in the desert.
While in Quartzsite, check out the Hi Jolly Monument which honors the Arab camel driver, Hadji Ali, who took part in an unsuccessful 1850’s U.S. War Department attempt to use camels as beasts of burden in the desert. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Be warned, though. Don’t come in the summer when nothing much happens. The gypsy-like encampment will have long disappeared. Vendors start packing up in mid-February and are long gone before the snowbirds migrate north and the intense desert heat becomes unbearable.

But come winter, everything changes as the small desert community bustles with activity. RVs by the tens of thousands camp helter-skelter on the BLM land.

Originally built by Charles Tyson, Quartzsite began in 1856 as Fort Tyson, then became a stagecoach stopover called Tyson Wells and this name still echoes in the annual Tyson Wells Rock and Gem show. A mini mining boom led to its renaming as Quartzsite.

What started as a small-town mineral show in the late 1960s in western Arizona has developed into a phenomenon that peaks in January by bringing more than 1 million people to the town of Quartzsite, where a huge RV show greets them.

The 2015 Quartzsite Sports, Vacation and RV Show will run January 17-25. In 32 years, the event has evolved into the largest consumer RV show in the US.

The show is heaven on earth for RVers. It’s a ton of fun with hundreds of exhibits, live shows, bargain products, and fellow RV enthusiasts. The fact that the desert is gorgeous and the temperature is in the low-to-mid 70s in mid-January doesn’t hurt either!

Quartzsite is a popular destination for snowbirds on its own but many come for a week or two during the RV Show. When the gates open on the first day, people are lined up for a quarter-mile at each of the two main entrances to get in. It fills the tent and creates gridlock.

This may sound crazy, but I am going back to Crazy Quartzsite again this year!
This may sound crazy, but I am going back to Crazy Quartzsite again this year! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Add to that the Pow Wow rock and mineral show and the Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama and Quartzsite becomes the third-largest city in Arizona for a brief time.

If you’re an RVer, Quartzsite in January is on your bucket list.

Quartzsite is a phenomenon, a gathering place.

Let the shows begin!

I’ll see you at the Q!

Worth Pondering…

Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.

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Quartzsite: Woodstock of the Snowbird Set

During our last visit to the annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show in January, we reminisced about how Quartzsite has changed over the last 16 years since our first visit and what future years might bring.

Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year.
Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year. Numerous food choices ensure you’ll never go hungry! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you pass through Quartzsite in the summer, not much happens. You will see flat desert, some roadside businesses, tumbleweeds, and that’s about it.

But come winter, it’s quite different. The flat desert bustles with activity. Something happens that is hard to believe, unless you have seen it! RVs by the tens of thousands camp in somewhat primitive desert conditions.

Many times I’ve tried to describe Quartzsite to people who haven’t been there, but it’s impossible for them to imagine.

As you descend the last pass into the valley, at first glance, it appears you’ve come across an unmapped city in the desert—there are thousands of small buildings spread out everywhere.

But then you realize that these are not buildings—they’re recreational vehicles of every type, size, and vintage. And wherever you look, you see them. It’s the Woodstock of the Snowbird set!

Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February
Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Just where is this gem of a town? Quartzsite is beyond Hope. Heading west toward Quartzsite, you’ll go beyond Hope, Arizona.

Quartzite swells in population to over a million visitors, most of whom converge on the small town in a wave of RVs during the months of January and February.
So what is the attraction?

Well, it’s relatively warm in Quartzite during winter. And it also offers pretty inexpensive camping. But there’s another more important reason people descend on Quartzsite in droves. And it has more to do with geology than anything else.

Quartzsite has been a rock-hound’s paradise since the 1960s.

Today, over 2,000 vendors of rocks, gems, minerals, fossils, and everything else imaginable create one of the world’s largest open air flea markets.

Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year. You can find everything from geodes to GPS devices, and frying pans to dream catchers.

If you can’t find it at Quartzsite, it probably doesn’t exist!

Dates for the 32nd annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show are January 17-25, 2015, from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Dates for the 32nd annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show are January 17-25, 2015, from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When we first went to the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show in ’99, the RV Pavilion was packed with big-ticket items like RV satellites, tow hitches, and companies offering to install a solar array on your vehicle.

Since then, the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show has boomed and last year alone it drew more than 150,000 attendees. It draws snowbirds from around the US and Canada; it’s now the Woodstock of the Snowbird set!

Looking ahead to future years, the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show will continue to grow and attract a more general crowd. Thanks to items like cheaper flat screen TVs, smart phones, and affordable solar arrays with charge controllers to power all your gizmos, it is easy to have all the comforts of home while you’re camping.

As RVing gets easier and more comfortable—and more boomers retire—even more people will dip their toes into the RV world, and what better place to do it than at Quartzsite?

Surprises await as you wander from vender to vendor
Surprises await as you wander from vender to vendor. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As Quartzsite continues to grow and evolve, it will still be a wonderful place for RVers of all types to gather and relax with near perfect temperatures during the day and clear starlit skies at night.

Quartzsite is just 17 miles east of the Colorado River on I-10. From Phoenix, the trip to Quartzite is about two hours. It is also easily accessible from Los Angeles.

Dates for the 32nd annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show are January 17-25, 2015.

This may sound crazy, but I am going back to Crazy Quartzsite again this year!

The Woodstock of the Snowbird set is an experience not to be missed—and we think you’ll like it too!

Worth Pondering…

Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.

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Shipshewana: A Shopper’s Paradise

Shipshewana is a bustling village with quaint shop-lined streets, specialty retailers, and home-style dining.

Amish horse and buggy outside Yoder's Meat & Cheese Company. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Amish horse and buggy outside Yoder’s Meat & Cheese Company. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Shoppers search for handcrafted items, baked goods, and what-not behind picturesque turn-of-the-century storefronts.

The Midwest’s largest flea market brims with bargains and hundreds of vendors. Livestock and antique auctions attract serious buyers and the simply curious.

Horse-pulled buggy rides through town and into the countryside are a welcome diversion for weary feet. A strong Amish culture ensures a family-friendly atmosphere and closed shops on Sunday.

Shopping at Yoder’s Shipshewana Hardware store is popular, as is exploring the Davis Mercantile building, a huge historic structure with a variety of stores inside. On the top floor of the mercantile is the Shipshewana Carousel Company, where you can take a ride on a fully restored 1906 carousel.

Menno-Hof: See and hear the Amish-Mennonite Story

See and hear the Amish-Mennonite story at Menno-Hof in Shipshewana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
See and hear the Amish-Mennonite story at Menno-Hof in Shipshewana. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Multi-image presentations and historical environments offer a glimpse into the life and history of the Amish and Mennonites. Travel through five centuries of fascinating history from their origins in Switzerland to their arrival in America. History unfolds as you explore a 17th century sailing ship and replicas of a 19th century print shop and meeting house. Experience the simulation of a tornado as the wind blows and the theatre shakes.

Admission: $6.50; children ages 6-12, $3.50; family rate available

Address: 510 South Van Buren Street, PO Box 701, Shipshewana IN 46565

Phone: (260) 768-4117

Website:  MennoHof.org

Shipshewana Flea Market and Auction

Shipshewana Flea Market and Auction © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Shipshewana Flea Market and Auction © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Midwest’s largest Flea Market is held every Tuesday and Wednesday (8:00 a.m.-5 p.m.) from the first of May through the end of October, you can find hundreds of vendors selling everything from fresh fruit to handcrafted furniture at the Shipshewana Flea Market. Over 900 vendors on 100 acres offer a variety of products from fresh produce and landscaping to crafts and handcrafted furniture and everything in between.

One of the most popular destinations in the Midwest, the Shipshewana Auction started in 1922 when six pigs, seven cows, and several head of young cattle were sold at the home of George Curtis. Now, home to two major auction barns, three weekly auctions, and a number of specialty auctions, Shipshewana Auction has a bit of something for everyone.

Address: 345 South Van Buren Street, PO Box 185, Shipshewana, IN 46565

Phone: (260) 768-4129

Website: ShipshewanaFleaMarket.com

Yoder’s Shipshewana Hardware

Yoder’s Shipshewana Hardware is one of the few remaining old-fashioned hardware stores. Since 1968, Yoder’s has provided both local and visiting customers a unique selection of merchandise ranging from hand tools and paint to kitchen gadgets and glassware.

Address: 300 B South Van Buren Street, PO Box 639, Shipshewana, IN 46565

Phone: (260)768-4163 or (877) 988-9309 (toll free)

Website: YodersHardware.com

Yoder’s Meats & Cheese Company

Four generations of experience in meat cutting and raising cattle have made Yoder’s Meat & Cheese Company who they are today.

Yoder’s stock over 100 varieties of cheese products manufactured largely by different cheese-making operations in the Amish Mennonite communities of Indiana and Ohio.

Also available is over 100 cuts of quality farm-fresh meat, hickory wood-smoked meats, 19 varieties of jerky and gourmet food including homemade noodles, jams and jellies, fruit betters, salsas, and seasonings.

Address: 435 S. Van Buren Street (SR5) Shipshewana, Indiana 46565

Phone: (260) 768-4715

Website: yodersmeatshoppe.com

Yoder Popcorn

Yoder Popcorn © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Yoder Popcorn © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1936, Rufus Yoder started growing popcorn on his family farm. In the Amish custom, he shared his excess crop with his neighbors and friends. They told their friends and neighbors about the excellent quality of Yoder Popcorn, and soon a business was born.

After Rufus retired, his children Larry and Pauline, continued to market Yoder Popcorn. In 1999, Yoder Popcorn was purchased by Rufus’ great niece, Sharon, along with her husband Richard and their youngest son, Russell. Besides operating the Popcorn Shoppe, they farm 1,700 acres which includes the acreage around the Shoppe.

Location: 4 miles of Shipshewana on SR-5; ¼-mile east on CR200S

Address: 7680 W 200 S, Topeka, IN 46571

Phone: (260) 768-4051 or (800) 892-2170 (toll free)

Website: yoderpopcorn.com

Please Note: This is Part 4 of a 7-Part series on Amish Country

Worth Pondering…

Amish children are usually named after aunts or uncles or some other relation. Keeps the family names going.”
—Sarah Price, Fields of Corn

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Quartzsite Introduces New Trolley Service

The Town of Quartzsite is now offering a trolley service that connects the Quartzsite Town Park with various destinations within Quartzsite, including Main Street, Main Event, and special event sites along Kuehn Road and the La Posa Campground.

Quartzsite Town Council and employees cutting the ribbon December 18 welcoming new trolley service. (Credit: Joanne Winer/paloverdevalleytimes.com)
Quartzsite Town Council and employees cutting the ribbon December 18 welcoming new trolley service. (Credit: Joanne Winer/paloverdevalleytimes.com)

The route allows for stops along the way with the option of three park and ride areas for riders’ convenience.

This new demonstration service is provided seven days a week.

The Western Arizona town hopes this service will provide a viable alternative for RVing snowbirds and other visitors to driving their own vehicle.

In addition to avoiding the bumper-to-bumper traffic during the peak of the season, the Quartzsite Trolley also provides a much-needed service to those who cannot drive or who want to avoid the stress of searching for an available parking space at the swap meets, rock and gem shows, and businesses around town.

The trolley service is made possible through an agreement between the town and Parking Concepts, a Yuma-based company that provides similar services in Yuma and Blythe, California.

Walking the displays at The Main Event. If you can’t find it at Quartzsite, then you don’t need it. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Walking the displays at The Main Event. If you can’t find it at Quartzsite, then you don’t need it. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The daily route starts at Town Park (North Plymouth Road) and travels down U.S. Highway 95 South to Main Street, then to Quartzsite Boulevard (Main Event), across the bridge to Kuehn Boulevard (frontage road), along Kuehn to U.S. Highway 95 South, to BLM LTVA La Posa North camping areas, then again along Kuehn to Riggles and Main Street, and back to the Town Park. The ride for the entire route takes about 45 minutes.

The trolley operates daily from 8:20 a.m.-5:20 p.m. with no service from 12:50-1:35 p.m.

There are trolley stop signs along the route, and people are urged to park and ride when possible. The trolley has 20 seats with room for two wheelchairs, plus standing for up to 30 people. It also has two bicycle racks.

Fares are paid for each one-way trip. The general fare for riding the trolley is $2 per person one-way, or $5 for a hop-off, hop-on day pass. A seasonal pass is available for $75.
Trolley operators only accept cash. No round trip fares are allowed. Fares are subject to change and exact fare is required. No change is given.

Children under 5 ride free—up to four children. Fifth and more children pay discount fare.

Trolley Season Passes are on sale at Quartzsite Town Hall or Quartzsite Chamber of Commerce or can be purchased through the mail, by sending a check or money order (payable to Town of Quartzsite) and the number of passes requested to Town of Quartzsite—Trolley, 465 N. Plymouth Avenue, Quartzsite, AZ 85346; phone (928) 927-4333.

Trolley operates seven days a week until Sunday, February 2, 2014.

logoThe service expects to pay for the cost with ridership fees and advertising fees that will help make up the cost to the town until February 2, when there will be an assessment of the service to see if it is feasible to extend it longer.

For more information about the trolley or the route, please call Jan Collier at Town Hall, 928-927-4333.

Please Note: Previous postings on Quartzsite 2014 include:

Worth Pondering…

Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.

Read More

2014 Quartzsite Show Dates Announced

What is Quartzsite?

Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year. Numerous food choices ensure you’ll never go hungry! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year. Numerous food choices ensure you’ll never go hungry! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Quartzsite is located in western Arizona, 20 miles east of the Colorado River on I-10. In 1856, settler Charles Tyson built a fort at the present site of Quartzsite to protect his water supply. Fort Tyson soon became a stopover on the Ehrenburg-to-Prescott stagecoach route. It had become known as Tyson’s Wells by the time the stage stopped running and the town was abandoned.

Quartzsite has been a rockhounders’ paradise since the 1960s.

Today, it is also attracts over a million visitors each winter who converge on this small town of 1900 people in a wave of RVs during the months of January and February when over 2,000 vendors of rocks, gems, minerals, fossils, and everything else imaginable create one of the world’s largest open air flea markets.

Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year.

Tyson Wells Show History

Tyson Wells began with an open lot where an RV Park was developed; the Sell-A-Rama Show started in 1978.

Soon Tyson Wells became known as a leading Rock & Gem Show in the United States. Later, additional land was acquired for more parking, and two more shows—Rock & Gem Show and Art & Craft Fair—were added.

Tyson Wells has something for everyone with the three shows in January and February, seasonal vendors, self-storage units, and an RV Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Tyson Wells has something for everyone with the three shows in January and February, seasonal vendors, self-storage units, and an RV Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tyson Wells has something for everyone with the three shows in January and February, seasonal vendors, self-storage units, and an RV Park.

The Quartzsite Shows

Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show

The Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show attracts rock, gem, and mineral vendors from around the world and runs for 10 days in early January.

Dates for the Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show are January 3-12, 2014.

Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama

The Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama show occurs in late January and also runs for 10 days. The Sell-A-Rama has over 850 vendor spaces which equals roughly 2.2 miles of aisle frontage. You can find just about anything at this 25-acre show.

Dates for the 36th Annual Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama are January 17-26, 2014

Tyson Wells Art & Craft Fair

The indoor Tyson Wells Art & Craft Fair takes place early February each year. One can find arts, crafts, hobbies supplies, jewelry, and lapidary supplies.

Dates for the Tyson Wells Arts & Crafts Fair are January 31-February 9, 2014.

2014 Quartzsite Show Dates

You won’t want to miss the 2014 Quartzsite Shows!

January 1-February 28, 2014: The Desert Gardens Gem, Rocks & Mineral Show

January 3-January 12, 2014: Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show

January 6-January 26, 2014: The Main Event

January 10-January 11, 2014: Quartzsite Art Guild Art Show

January 17-January 19, 2014: Blythe Bluegrass Festival

January 17-January 26, 2014: Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama

January 18-January 26, 2014: Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show

January 22-January 26, 2014: QIA Pow Wow

January 31-February 9, 2014: Tyson Wells Arts & Craft Fair

February 6, 2014: Quartzsite Flyers RC Fly-in

February 14-February 15, 2014: Quartzsite Quilt Show

February 14- February 16, 2014: Desert Bloom ATV Rally

February 14-February16, 2014: QIA Gold, Treasure & Craft Show

TBA: Balloon Festival, Chili Cook-Off & Camel Rides

Canceled: Quartzsite Hobby Craft & Gem Show

Canceled: Rock & Roll Classic Car Show

Quartzsite swap meet map
Quartzsite swap meet map

Please Note: This is the second of a two-part series on Quartzsite 2014 Show Dates

Part 1: 2014 Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show Dates Announced

Worth Pondering… 

Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February. As the saying goes, “If you can’t find it in Quartzsite, you won’t find it anywhere.”

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2014 Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show Dates Announced

Every January something happens that is hard to believe, unless you have seen it!

quartzsiteAccording to the Arizona Highway Department, as many as 750,000 to 1,000,000 people, mostly in recreational vehicles, converge on the sleepy little desert town of Quartzsite, located just 20 miles east of the California border on Interstate 10, for the rock, gem, and mineral shows, plus numerous flea markets and the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show.

“If you’re looking for anything related to RVs, you’ll find it at the RV show in Quartzsite,” says Kenny King, show promoter.

There will be several hundred new and used RVs on display in 2014 and over a dozen service bays will be offering immediate installation, repairs, and service on many of the items that will be exhibited at the show.

This phenomenon started over 30 years ago and is now billed as “The Largest Gathering Of RVers in the World”.

The inaugural Quartzsite RV Show opened January 28, 1984 at the corner of Highway 95 (now Central) and Business 10 (now Main Street) in Quartzsite, Arizona. With just 60 exhibitors and a small tent, the “new show in town” was still very popular since the majority of the people in Quartzsite were RVers.

Walking the displays at The Main Event. If you can’t find it at Quartzsite, then you don’t need it. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Walking the displays at The Main Event. If you can’t find it at Quartzsite, then you don’t need it. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1987 the show, now re-named the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show, moved up the street to the Quartzsite Trailer Park which was situated directly across from the major attraction in town, the Quartzsite Pow Wow (the first Pow Wow was held in 1967).

This new home for the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show lasted 10 years until the show grew to a point that the current 3.5-acre show site could barely hold the number of exhibitors that were now vying for exhibit space at this popular annual event.

In 1997 the “BIG TENT”, as the show had become known, moved across the freeway to its present home, a new 20-acre facility, ½-mile south of I-10 on Highway 95 (now 700 South Central).

With the new Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show grounds, the popular event was able to provide over 15 acres of public FREE parking.

Dates for the 31st Annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show are January 18-26, 2014, from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

FREE parking! FREE admission! It’s a FREE, family friendly event…

Estimated attendance 150,000 plus!

69,000 square feet, fully carpeted indoor exhibit area.

Canceled: Quartzsite Hobby Craft & Gem Show & Rock & Roll Classic Car Show

In 1997, a second show—Quartzsite Hobby, Craft & Gem Show—was added. The new show, while on a much smaller scale than the giant RV show, grew to include a Rock & Roll Classic.

It was recently announced that the 17th Annual Quartzsite Hobby, Craft & Gem Show and the 16th Annual Quartzsite Rock & Roll Classic Car Shows, that ran concurrently, have been canceled.

Promoter Kenny King stated that after the economic slump in 2008, attendance and participation had been in decline and the decision was made to eliminate the shows as of 2014.

King also said that they are looking for new ideas for an additional new show that may spark more interest in people staying over after the big RV Show closes and would even consider co-promoting or leasing their show facility to another promoter.

Quartzsite.visitor.guide.coverOK, but what’s so great about Quartzsite?

Many times I’ve tried to describe Quartzsite to people who haven’t been there, but it’s impossible for them to imagine.

As you descend the last pass into the valley, at first glance, it appears you’ve come across an unmapped city in the desert—there are thousands of small buildings spread out everywhere.

But then you realize that these are not buildings—they’re recreational vehicles of every type, size, and vintage. And wherever you look, you see them. It’s the Woodstock of the Snowbird set!

Just where is this gem of a town? Quartzsite is beyond Hope. Heading west toward Quartzsite, you’ll go beyond Hope, Arizona.

Please Note: This is the first of a two-part series on Quartzsite 2014 Show Dates

Part 2: 2014 Quartzsite Show Dates Announced

Worth Pondering…

Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.

Read More

Quartzsite: Front Page Focus of National Media…for All the Wrong Reasons

It’s not the first time the desert town of Quartzsite off Interstate 10 in western Arizona, has been the focus of national news reports—and it undoubtedly won’t be the last.

Quartzsite in the national media

But this may be the only time the dusty community of about 3,500 hits the front page of a newspaper with worldwide circulation.

The USA Today, with a circulation of around 1.8 million copies daily, is beaten only by the Wall Street Journal (2.1 million), which has also featured Quartzsite on several occasions in the past number of months, reports parkerliveonline.com.

A photograph of Quartzsite’s recently seated mayor, Ed Foster, graces the front cover of the paper, accompanying a story about turbulent local politics around the country and a sub-headline that reads, “The presidential race has nothing [on this].”

The Los Angeles Times, the Arizona Republic, the New York Times, and others have all contributed to the media attention on Quartzsite’s dramatic politics along with local media.

Citizens of Quartzsite wonder why it took over five months for the winning candidate to be seated as the town’s seventh mayor in four years, reports USA Today.

The Quartzsite Town Council caved in to a Writ of Mandamus issued by La Paz County Superior Court Judge Michael Burke and seated the Foster as Mayor. His oath of office was administered by Municipal Court Judge Lawrence C. King. Foster chaired the remainder of the meeting, which included voting Councilman Michael Jewitt in as Vice Mayor.

Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year. Numerous food choices ensure you’ll never go hungry! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year. Numerous food choices ensure you’ll never go hungry! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

By court order, the 70-year-old retired engineer was sworn in last week as mayor of Quartzsite, a dusty community of about 3,500 off Interstate 10 in southwest Arizona. He was elected in June, but the Town Council refused to seat him.

Why? Ostensibly because Foster owes the town $2,200 in legal fees.

Why? Because Foster sued unsuccessfully in 2011 to regain the mayor’s seat he’d won the previous year. He lost it in a recall election.

Why? Because he clashed with other local officials, including a police chief who arrested him for allegedly disruptive behavior at a public meeting, reports USA Today.

Why would anyone voluntarily get involved in local politics?

“I have a famous saying,” Foster replies.

“No president has ever done anything for me or done anything against me. But you should pay attention to choosing someone who can tell you whether you can build a shed in your yard.”

Details

Quartzsite 

Surprises await as you wander from vender to vendor. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Surprises await as you wander from vender to vendor. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Quartzsite is located in western Arizona, 20 miles east of the Colorado River on I-10.

In 1856, settler Charles Tyson built a fort at the present site of Quartzsite to protect his water supply. Fort Tyson soon became a stopover on the Ehrenburg-to-Prescott stagecoach route. It had become known as Tyson’s Wells by the time the stage stopped running and the town was abandoned.

Quartzsite has been a rockhounders’ paradise since the 1960s.

Today, it is also attracts over a million visitors each winter who converge on this small town of 1900 people in a wave of RVs during the months of January and February when over 2,000 vendors of rocks, gems, minerals, fossils, and everything else imaginable create one of the world’s largest open air flea markets.

Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year.

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Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.

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Quartzsite 2013 Show Dates Announced

What is Quartzsite?

Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year. Numerous food choices ensure you’ll never go hungry! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Quartzsite is located in western Arizona, 20 miles east of the Colorado River on I-10. In 1856, settler Charles Tyson built a fort at the present site of Quartzsite to protect his water supply. Fort Tyson soon became a stopover on the Ehrenburg-to-Prescott stagecoach route. It had become known as Tyson’s Wells by the time the stage stopped running and the town was abandoned.

Quartzsite has been a rockhounders’ paradise since the 1960s.

Today, it is also attracts over a million visitors each winter who converge on this small town of 1900 people in a wave of RVs during the months of January and February when over 2,000 vendors of rocks, gems, minerals, fossils, and everything else imaginable create one of the world’s largest open air flea markets.

Major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors, and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year.

Tyson Wells Show History

Tyson Wells began with an open lot where an RV Park was developed; the Sell-A-Rama Show started in 1978.

Soon Tyson Wells became known as a leading Rock & Gem Show in the United States. Later, additional land was acquired for more parking, and two more shows—Rock & Gem Show and Art & Craft Fair—were added.

Tyson Wells has something for everyone with the three shows in January and February, seasonal vendors, self-storage units, and an RV Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tyson Wells has something for everyone with the three shows in January and February, seasonal vendors, self-storage units, and an RV Park.

The Quartzsite Shows

Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show

The Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show attracts rock, gem, and mineral vendors from around the world and runs for 10 days in early January.

Dates for the Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show are January 4-13, 2013.

Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama

The Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama show occurs in late January and also runs for 10 days. The Sell-A-Rama has over 850 vendor spaces which equals roughly 2.2 miles of aisle frontage. You can find just about anything at this 25-acre show.

Dates for the 35th Annual Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama are January 18-27, 2013

Tyson Wells Art & Craft Fair

The indoor Tyson Wells Art & Craft Fair takes place early February each year. One can find arts, crafts, hobbies supplies, jewelry, and lapidary supplies.

Dates for the Tyson Wells Arts & Crafts Fair are February 1-10, 2013.

2013 Quartzsite Show Dates

Surprises await as you wander from vender to vendor. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You won’t want to miss the 2013 Quartzsite Shows!

January 1-February 28, 2013: The Desert Gardens Gem, Rocks & Mineral Show

January 4-January 13, 2013: Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show

January 7-January 27, 2013: The Main Event

January 18-January 20, 2013: Blythe Bluegrass Festival

January 18-January 27, 2013: Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama

January 19-January 27, 2013: Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show

January 23-January 27, 2013: Q.I.A. Pow Wow

January 30-February 3, 2013: Quartzsite Hobby Craft & Gem Show

February 1-February 19, 2013: Tyson Wells Arts & Craft Fair

February 2-February 3, 2013: Rock & Roll Classic Car Show

February 6- February 9, 2013: Desert Bloom ATV Rally

February 9, 2013: The New Christie Minstrels Show (2 concerts: 2:00 p.m.; 7:00 p.m.)

TBA: Chili Cook-Off & State Salsa Championship

Note: This is the second of a two-part series on Quartzsite 2013 Show Dates

Part 1: 2013 Quartzsite RV Show Dates Announced

Worth Pondering… Nowhere on earth will you find such an assortment of “stuff” as you will at Quartzsite from mid-December to mid-February. As the saying goes, “If you can’t find it in Quartzsite, you won’t find it anywhere.”

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2013 Quartzsite RV Show Dates Announced

Every January something happens that is hard to believe, unless you have seen it!

Toy hauler on display at the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

According to the Arizona Highway Department, as many as 750,000 to 1,000,000 people, mostly in recreational vehicles, converge on the sleepy little desert town of Quartzsite, located just 20 miles east of the California border on Interstate 10, for the rock, gem, and mineral shows, plus numerous flea markets and the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show.

“If you’re looking for anything related to RVs, you’ll find it at the RV show in Quartzsite,” says Kenny King, show promoter.

There will be several hundred new and used RVs on display in 2013 and over a dozen service bays will be offering immediate installation, repairs, and service on many of the items that will be exhibited at the show.

This phenomenon started over 30 years ago and is now billed as The Largest Gathering Of RVers in the World”.

The inaugural Quartzsite RV Show opened January 28, 1984 at the corner of Highway 95 (now Central) and Business 10 (now Main Street) in Quartzsite, Arizona. With just 60 exhibitors and a small tent, the “new show in town” was still very popular since the majority of the people in Quartzsite were RVers.

Heading to the Big Tent at the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1987 the show, now re-named the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show, moved up the street to the Quartzsite Trailer Park which was situated directly across from the major attraction in town, the Quartzsite Pow Wow (the first Pow Wow was held in 1967).

This new home for the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show lasted 10 years until the show grew to a point that the current 3.5-acre show site could barely hold the number of exhibitors that were now vying for exhibit space at this popular annual event.

In 1997 the “BIG TENT”, as the show had become known, moved across the freeway to its present home, a new 20-acre facility, ½-mile south of I-10 on Highway 95 (now 700 South Central).

With the new Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show grounds, the popular event was able to provide over 15 acres of public FREE parking.

Dates for the 30th Annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show are January 19-27, 2013, from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Free parking! Free admission! It’s a FREE, family friendly event…

Estimated attendance 150,000 plus!

69,000 square feet, fully carpeted indoor exhibit area.

Quartzsite Hobby, Craft & Gem Show

In 1997, a second show was added. The new show, while on a much smaller scale than the giant RV show, has grown and now includes a two-day Rock & Roll Classic Car Show over the weekend of this Wednesday through Sunday, five-day event.

Dates for the 16th Annual Quartzsite Hobby, Craft & Gem Show are January 30-February 3, 2013, from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Free parking! Free admission! It’s a FREE, family friendly event…

Rock & Roll Classic Car Show

Check out some of the Southwest’s finest custom hot rods, street rods, muscle cars, and classics displayed beneath the giant big-top tent during the Rock & Roll Classic Car Show.

Dates for the 15th Annual Quartzsite Rock & Roll Classic Car Show in Quartzsite, Arizona, are February 2-3, 2013, from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Free parking! Free admission! It’s a FREE, family friendly event…

OK, but what’s so great about Quartzsite?

Walking the displays at The Main Event. If you can’t find it at Quartzsite, then you don’t need it. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many times I’ve tried to describe Quartzsite to people who haven’t been there, but it’s impossible for them to imagine.

As you descend the last pass into the valley, at first glance, it appears you’ve come across an unmapped city in the desert—there are thousands of small buildings spread out everywhere.

But then you realize that these are not buildings—they’re recreational vehicles of every type, size, and vintage. And wherever you look, you see them. It’s the Woodstock of the Snowbird set!

Just where is this gem of a town? Quartzsite is beyond Hope. Heading west toward Quartzsite, you’ll go beyond Hope, Arizona.

Note: This is the first of a two-part series on Quartzsite 2012 Show Dates

Part 2: Quartzsite 2013 Show Dates Announced

Worth Pondering…

Quartzsite = $400,000 diesel pusher motorhomes towing $40,000 SUVs looking for free camping.

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Five Things You Need to Know Today: January 27

Since I like things to come in fives (and tens), here are five things YOU need to know TODAY!

1. NADAguides.com Reports RV Inquiries Rising

Let's Go RVing to Monument Valley Tribal Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

NADAguides.com, the most comprehensive new and used car, classic car, motorcycle, boat, and recreation vehicle pricing and information resource online, has announced its 2011 third and fourth quarter Traffic Trends Report—showing growth in traffic and consumer shopping activity site wide.

The RV section saw an overall traffic increase of 10 percent during the second half of the year. NADAguides.com analysts note that according to a new study, 8.5 percent of U.S. households now own RVs, up from 8 percent in 2005, showing a clear rise in the number of people shopping online for these types of vehicles.

Similar to the first half of the year, the total number of unique visitors to NADAguides.com continued to increase during the second half of the year at 12 percent. The site recorded August 2011 as its best month ever for total site traffic.

2. Red Tide Ebbs: Texas Oyster Harvesting Open in Some Areas

Let's Go RVing to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, Texas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A small portion of Texas waters open to shellfish harvesting today (January 27). At 12:01 a.m. on Espiritu Santo and the conditionally approved area of San Antonio Bay opened to commercial oyster harvest.

Due to the recent rains in the Austin area the conditional area of San Antonio Bay might not remain open for long. The Texas Department of State Health Services will continue to monitor the red tide and will open areas to harvesting when it is safe to do so. For the latest information on the opening and closing of oyster harvest areas, call DSHS at 1-800-685-0361.

3. Quartzsite: A Gem in the Desert

Let's Go RVing to Quartzsite. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

So exactly what is Quartzsite?

The World’s Largest Flea Market!

A dusty destination in the middle of nowhere—but, come January, the little town of Quartzsite transforms into the vendor capital of the world and becomes the largest gathering of RVs and RVers on the planet.

This sleepy Arizona town has become famous for luring snowbirds who like to browse amid RVs and RV products, gems and minerals, crafts and hobby items—and the “mother of all swap meets.”

The Chamber of Commerce gives the normal population as around 3,000. In January and February, it swells to a million plus.

The 2012 Quartzsite Sports, Vacation & RV Show continues until January 29.

To continue reading, click here.

4. No Finer Day in Shiner

In Texas, the mere mention of the word “Shiner” immediately brings to mind thoughts of a cold longneck and the distinctive brew within. However, before the beer, there was the town.

Not surprisingly, the best way to learn the history of Shiner is to learn the history of Shiner Beer, as the two have been intertwined for more than a hundred years. So, I headed to Spoetzl Brewery and joined the day’s first tour.

Shiner beer started in 1909 when the town’s thirsty German and Czech immigrants decided to start a brewery to make the traditional Bavarian brews of their homeland. In 1914, legendary brewmaster Kosmos Spoetzl took over and the rest is history.

The Spoetzl Brewery is now the oldest independent brewery in Texas and still brews every drop of Shiner Beer from its “little brewery” in Shiner.

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5. Check All Lights

Let's Go RVing to Arches National Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Before leaving on any trip, check all your RV lighting. This is best done using the buddy system: one in the driver’s seat, and one outside verifying the results of the driver’s action.

With your buddy/co-pilot at the rear of the RV, check turn signals, tail/clearance lights, and brake lights.

Finally with your buddy/co-pilot at the front of the RV check your headlights—high and low beams—and fog lights.

If you find defective lights, replace them. It’s always a good idea to keep extra bulbs specific to your vehicle.

Have a great weekend.

Until next time, safe RV travels, and we’ll see you on the road!

Worth Pondering…

The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.

—Michael Althsuler

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