Do The Q

 Posted by at 7:15 am  Nick's Blog
Jan 112010

It’s that time of year again. Thousands of RVers are headed for the tiny town of Quartzsite, Arizona to take part in the annual gathering that is best described as Woodstock For Grownups. Some people will tell you that you’re not a real RVer until you “Do the Q!”

They come to dry camp in the desert, to shop the small vendors scattered around town, to browse the Big Tent and see even more vendor offerings, to meet up with old friends, and just to hang out and enjoy the desert sunshine.

If you have not been to Quartzsite, it should be on your personal Bucket List. It’s not for everybody, but everybody should experience it at least once. 

Quartzsite 2008 5th wheel cactusWe’ve been to Quartzsite several times, and to be honest, it’s gotten worse over the years, and I think it will continue to decline. The town fathers want to turn it into their own version of Palm Springs, and their greed has pushed many of the small vendors out as they are replaced with big RV dealerships paying big taxes.

During the last two weeks of January, traffic is terrible in town, and many find it easier to walk or ride bicycles than to try and negotiate the constant gridlock on the two main streets in town, one north of Interstate 10 and one south.

In case I’m sounding negative, let’s not forget the fact that there are few places to shop locally, so one must bring in everything they need, or be prepared to drive a half hour or more to Parker, Arizona or Blythe, California for much of anything. Except for big crowds of people, you won’t find anything in the Big Tent you can’t find buy from vendors at other RV rallies, and usually for less money. Even out in the middle of nowhere, petty thievery is not uncommon – every year folks lose bicycles and portable generators. And did I mention the dust that permeates every corner of your RV after a few days in the desert?

By now you must be asking yourself “Why the heck would I ever want to go to Quartzsite?” The answer is simple, the pluses far outweigh the negatives for many RVers.

In Quartzsite, you will learn to get the most out of your RV’s self-contained features. Even if you don’t think you will spend much time boondocking, it’s still handy to know how to do so in a pinch. You never know when you’ll be stuck for a few days at an RV repair shop waiting for parts and repairs. RVs boondocking 6

You have never experienced a sunset like you’ll see in the Arizona desert, and that alone makes it worth a trip to Quartzsite. Once the sun goes down, a million stars fill the sky, shining like so many diamonds. At night you will be serenaded by coyotes as you drop off to sleep, and the next morning you are treated to the sound of doves cooing their wake up call. These are memories you’ll never make in a regular RV park

Of course, the people you will meet are the greatest thing about Quartzsite. It attracts everybody from bluegrass pickers to hikers, rock hounds to four wheel drive enthusiasts, born again Christians to pagans. They even have an out of the way corner of the desert reserved for nudists, called the Magic Circle! You’re as likely to have neighbors in half-million dollar Prevost custom coaches as in homebuilt bus conversions, as well as any and every type of new and vintage RV ever conceived. And they’re all there to do the same thing as you are, just to be a part of it all.

You may go once and decide that it’s not for you, or like many of our RVing friends, you may fall in love with the place, and return every winter to “Do the Q.”

Thought For The Day – Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means that you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.

Register Now For Our Arizona Gypsy Gathering Rally

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  18 Responses to “Do The Q”

  1. This has nothing to do with the “Q” but why are you still showing the abbreviated version of the September/October 2009 issue of the Gypsy Journal on your home page? I just received the latest issue!

  2. After reading” your description of Q, I have decided that the only time I will “Do the Q” is using our Weber Baby Q to cook up some steaks . I have no desire to treat myself to all that Quartzite has to offer. We can hear doves in most campgrounds, and the stars at night are big and bright, here in the heart of Texas. Thank you, Nick, for telling it like it is.

  3. Nick,
    you make it sound like the RV version of the Burning Man, I”ve been wondering if I was missing out on anything from the conversations on the SKPERs forums. Now I can sit and freeze here in NY, safe in the knowledge that I’m missing overcrowded and overtaxed facilities (or lack thereof) and gridlock in a small town. Hmmmm. I’ll put it on the bucket list, but it will be far, far down that list.

  4. We were not sure about whether or not to head to Quartzite at some point or another, but now we’re definitely sure that the only time we might visit Quartzite is at a different time of year.

    While I agree that learning the necessities of boondocking is a good thing, nonetheless, I will save that lesson for a different classroom.

    But, thank you for being straight about both the good and bad.

  5. Crowds, vendors, nudists. Sounds like a less-fun version of a biker rally! Been there, done that. I can hear coyotes from my house, and doves are so common I don’t notice them any more. And since I’m betting that the sunset in AZ will still be there the other 50 weeks of the year, Q sounds like a good place to avoid during this event. But thanks for the heads-up!

  6. We learned about boondocking parked at Life on Wheels for several days a few years back. We also confirmed it a couple of times elsewhere. And — we saw Q several years ago while still employed. Didn’t like it much then either.

  7. For me, the value of Q is parking with a group of friends and yakking around our nearly nightly campfires. Yes, you can do that anywhere but it’s just not the same nor as cheap. $40 for two weeks instead of one night?! $180 for the whole season?! Where else can you do that? Plus, those sunsets are amazing. You do need to bring your own firewood, though.

  8. Dale, if you come to Q-site at a different time of year you will wonder what the hell people are talking about. My first time was in the summer when i did a job over on the river. 122 degrees when i was there, temp got down to 110 at nite. Went to Q the second weekend i was there and saw 3 people. Couple of years later when we got our bus and started fulltiming we came thru at the end of Jan. and i told my wife not to expect much. We were astounded when we came over the hill and got our first view. I am not big on crowds or cities, ( i grew up just outside of a town of 310, so a big town to me is a 1000 or more.) In the 6 years since we started staying in Yuma we have gone up there one other time in the jeep just for the day. This year we are going up for 4-5 days just because there is going to be a big bus rally this year that we want to attend. Might be 4-5 years before we go again, might never go there again, but it is a sight to see at least once. :>)

  9. It seems some folks don’t know what they’re missing. The dust is better than the rain/snow. I think the camaraderie is well worth the stay at Q. Personally, I don’t do the park to park RV lifestyle, since I’ve made the investment in equipment for comfortable boondocking.

  10. We go up from Yuma every year for at least a week during the big RV show. There is a very good Bluegrass festival in nearby Blyth CA at the same time. Also a large number of SKP and other rallys held at various locations around Quartzite during Jan. We look forward to it each year because there is so much to do and see. Sure, a little dust, a little planning ahead for groceries, etc., living in our self contained vehicle and conserving water and electric. I forgot what the problem was?

  11. This will bo our 2nd year at quartzite. We do it as a break away from the RV park lifestyle. Every night we have a campfire which tends to attract neighbors for many new and interesting conversations. There is water and dump nearby and with the generator, there is not much we miss compared to the RV parks. As a break from the routine, you can’t beat it !

  12. We have only been at Quartzsite during the off season. No people, no traffic, no hippies, no problems. This year there is the first GeoCacher BOF planned and we have just got to be there for that. See you in Yuma.

  13. We have been to “Q” twice, once just before the shows and once after. Interesting, but I cannot imagine we would enjoy it during the “rut” unless we went with a group.

  14. Going with a group you belong to is the best way to do Quartzite. Our first time was with a skp rally and being novices, we were told stories I couldn’t believe. Right off the bat, I saw a guy in a tux with a chicken on a leash and I was hooked. The people watching was a full time job. There was also a naked bookseller guy; that’s what his booth was called though I think he did wear a bit of a coverup.
    Fighting your way through the vendor tents is what you will do once or maybe twice, but hanging with your friends, and meeting new ones out in the desert…..that is the real Quartzite experience.
    Don’t go by yourself and expect a great experience. You’ll be frustrated by the traffic and just finding your way back to your campsite. But do go even for a few days before you decide it’s not for you. It will be another great rv story to tell. After a few times, it wasn’t high on my winter agenda, but I’ll always be glad I gave it a go.

  15. Nick

    My impression that the best part of the Q is meeting the people. Being part of the big group we belong to, and exchanging storied and experiences with friends.

    Unfortunately we will not be able to “Do the Q” this year, but if you are there (or since you are there) – it would be awesome if you could be there for those who can’t – tell the stories, take the pictures, and share the atmosphere, in your own unique way.


  16. Like many of the people who have commented, we thought Q was not our thing. However, last year we went because everybody said we should experience it at least once. Our plan was to stay 3 days & then leave. Instead we stayed 3 weeks! I think the whole thing is about being with old and new friends. We just wish we could be there this year instead of being stuck in the southeast!

  17. Wow! What a buzz killer! Yeah, you were pretty negative. Quartzsite is an important part of RVing history. It needs support, not an obituary.

  18. For those of you who will visit Q when the swap meet is on, it’s is just not the same. I enjoyed the stay during the swap but once everyone was gone and we went back, it was not enjoyable.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.