Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Quartzsite, Arizona: snowbird capital?

RV park in Quartzite
At one time, Quartzsite, Arizona, was the snowbird capital of the world. Each January, upwards of a quarter million people would descend on this spot in the desert to spend the winter months in a warm climate.

Now they’re lucky if they get 50,000 snowbirds in January. A poor economy keeps some seniors from traveling, while others want a bigger community with a fancier infrastructure, such as you’ll find in Lake Havasu City and Parker. Still, Quartzsite has 27 RV parks, plus hundreds, if not thousands, of people choose cheap BLM camping. For $140 for three months, you can dry camp anywhere on BLM land. Quartzsite businesses will bring water and propane to you as well as empty your dirty tanks.

A Quartzite flea market
If you’re not into rocks and flea markets, finding enough to do could be a problem. We tried a couple of the flea markets/swap meets today. They are all over the place. We found prices very high for used goods. I went into a scratch ‘n dent grocery stall today. Dented canned goods sold for more than you’d pay new at a supermarket, while many of the other items being sold were long past their shelf life. I found candy bars marked best used if eaten by 2011.

Quartzsite lies at the intersection of US Highway 95 and Interstate 10. Traffic on the freeway is horrendous around the clock. We should know. The RV park we’re at borders the freeway. It’s an older park, full of permanent and long-term residents. Noise aside, we like it because the staff is helpful and there is more space between rigs than many other places provide.

Quartzsite has about 3,500 permanent residents, which means that RVs still outnumber residents. There are several RV dealerships, and this weekend what is billed as the largest RV show in the world opens.


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