Quartzsite and the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous

During the summer, Quartzsite, AZ is nothing out of the ordinary. A dusty little pit stop not far from the boarder of California along I10 where one can get gas on the way to more interesting (and cooler!) locations.

But during the winter, thousands of RVers descend upon this unassuming town and vendors arrive from all over to serve them. RV parks that go empty most of the year become full to overflowing and the town swells in a grid of tents and stalls with walkways between, lending a very ‘state fair’ type feel to the place.


At these stalls one can buy everything from clothes to sewer hoses, and homemade honey to solar equipment. Rocks and gems are a big draw and there are several businesses in town that sell them. Other events that run part or all of the winter include swap meets, ATV rallies, arts and craft shows, and of course RV shows.

KB Tools doesn't look like much, but it's got good prices! Bought bulbs for the truck and a part for my AC cover.

KB Tools doesn’t look like much, but it’s got good prices! Bought bulbs for the truck and a part for my AC cover.

quartzsite-az-rubber-tramp-rendezvous-4One could spend a lot of money in Quartzsite with all the shopping to be had, but my interests lie elsewhere. All around town is public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). While the rules vary from location to location, the big benefit to RVers is that a lot of BLM land is open to camping, and for a much cheaper price than a campground up to and including free. There are no hookups, no shower and laundry facilities, and phone signals out in these remote locations can be sketchy to nonexistent, but for those RVers who love being out in nature, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Boondocking (camping in a natural setting without hookups) is something I’ll get into in a later post as I’m still getting my thoughts together about this, my very first experience, but I will talk a bit more about where I’ve been boondocking: the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous (RTR).

Numerous RV groups arrange gatherings, meet ups and rallies near Quartzsite this time of year due to it’s mild winter weather, abundance of BLM land, and proximity to all of the services an RVer could need. Bob Wells of Cheap RV Living started hosting this one four or so years ago and it’s grown every year.

It’s not formal like some rallies are: there is no admittance fee, no assigned parking, and no pre-arranged outings. It runs for two weeks (most BLM land has a max stay limit of 14 days, including this area) and there are seminars most days on a variety of topics from solar power to kitchen gadgets to crossing the boarder into Mexico for dental work. Seminars are informal, Bob runs some and other folks can volunteer in advance to run one, there is no pay involved.

Bob talking about solar at a seminar

Bob talking about solar at a seminar

Other activities include a nightly communal campfire (bringing wood or money for the wood fund is appreciated), and a weekly potluck soup meal (bring a can of soup or ingredients, and it all gets dumped into a huge pot and shared).

Many RTR folks are vandwellers or traveling in a smaller RV, but there are larger rigs out here too and I haven’t heard of anyone being discriminated against for what they’re traveling in – it’s a very accepting group of people.

As I mentioned last post, I came to the RTR to help give a seminar on work-camping but that aside, there are two big advantages for newbie boondockers to make their first outing with a group like this – even people like me who aren’t afraid of camping alone. First, it gives you easy access to folks who are familiar with boondocking and can give you tips and answer questions you have. Second, they’ll also likely have camped in the area before and will know where to go for the best deals on essentials like groceries and who the dependable service folks are if you need work done.

And of course these people, like you, enjoy being out in nature so you’ll have that in common (aside from being an RVer) for striking up new friendships. While the crowds and shopping of Quartzsite are not really my thing I’m definitely glad I came out for the experience and I have a feeling I’m going to leave here much richer in community than when I came.


* * *

Since a lot of people have been asking about my plans, here they are although as always it’s all subject to change. The Xscapers convergence is taking place on the 15th and 16th and I’ll be attending at least parts of that, although I’m not sure yet if I’m going to park my rig there yet or not. I may go back for the last few days of RTR after that (it runs until the 19th) and I might not. After that, I’ll be at my 14 day max limit for camping in Quartzsite and will have to leave for at least two weeks (I’ll probably get my fridge taken care of during this time), and then I’ll be back at Quartzsite, on the west side near Dome Rock for the Fiberglass RV rally that starts February 8th. Everything after that is up in the air.

Yep, that's me on the right

Yep, that’s me on the right

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  1. Becky on December 20, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    Heya Dan,

    The RTR is run by Bob Wells, here’s the official page with all of the details on what to bring and what to expect – it’s boondocking so no reservation or fee but you will need to bring everything you need to survive in the desert – nothing is provided for you. http://www.cheaprvliving.com/gatherings/

    If you do want to have hookups in a real campground that exists in Quartzsite as well, I’ve never done it so I don’t have any real recommendations but if you visit the big RV forums or communities you’ll find lots of people talking about Q and can get advice.

    Maybe I’ll see you at the RTR, have a good trip!

    • Dan on December 20, 2016 at 7:46 pm

      Hi Becky!
      Thanks for the info about RTR. I will check out the link and see what I can arrange. I guess that today was your last day at Amazon and you will be headed out soon. Be safe!
      Maybe I will see you at the RTR as well!
      Have a Merry Christmas!

  2. Dan on December 20, 2016 at 4:53 am

    Hello Becky,
    Being new to RVing, I was thinking about going to the 2017 RTR and big tent event.
    Just a quick question for you or anyone that has attended the event. Do you need to make reservations at one of the campgrounds, or just go and find a spot in the desert somewhere around the event?
    My sister thinks that I am crazy. To travel all the way to Q without some kind of reservations or a plan!
    Any thoughts or suggestions welcome!
    Thanks and Merry Christmas!

  3. Andrea on August 16, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    Thank you Becky, What! South Fla won’t be cheap? That figures. My plans depend a lot on my budget, and it can be challenging.
    It will be an awakening winter for me, somehow I know it.

  4. Andrea on August 16, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    Interesting site to visit. I’m two months into vandwelling and am in the middle of deciding where to spend the winter. Considering south Fl. ,,don’t feel prepared to winter far from friends if i need help of any kind. Need more solar pwr. for one. It’s tempting to try Q.,after all the talk about it.
    Lots of answers to my questions are waiting my discovery too,,,in time. A.B.

    • Becky on August 16, 2016 at 7:32 pm

      Congrats on hitting the open road Andrea! I hope you enjoy your travel experience as much as I have.

      My first year I stuck closer to family and friends too so I definitely understand where you’re coming from. South FL is a great place to winter, although it won’t be cheap. If you don’t visit Q this winter, I definitely recommend it for a future one I think it’s one of those things every RVer should try at least once, for the experience of it.

      Best of luck to you, safe travels and happy trails!

  5. Jodee on January 14, 2016 at 9:09 am

    Looks like a great group of folks at the RTR – there’s sure lots of them out here. Population rises to 2.1M in the Winter so I’m always amazed one can even move on Main Street in January 🙂 Look forward to meeting you at the Convergence.
    Jodee recently posted..Lunch With a Fun Two, Lunch With a View – A Rockin’ Good TimeMy Profile

    • Becky on January 15, 2016 at 1:24 pm

      Yeah Jodee, it’s pretty amazing. Everyone says avoid going into town this weekend – first weekend of the big tent – cause it’ll be crazy. 😉

      Looking forward to meeting you too!

  6. Linda Sand on January 13, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    The RTR was one of the best things I did when RVing. Another was the Gypsy Journal rallies but they stopped having those. And the brand name or type of gathering where you can learn about YOUR rig. Glad to see you will be going to the fiberglass one to get those types of tips. I just wish I could still be out there with you all.

    • Becky on January 13, 2016 at 5:35 pm

      The information has been invaluable Linda, Q is definitely a good place to try something for the first time with all the folks around here to help. Sorry to hear you had to get off the road.

  7. Pamelab on January 13, 2016 at 11:16 am

    Hi, Becky – sounds like you are enjoying yourself at Q. Lots of boondockers to share experiences with. I look forward to hearing more about your adventures dry camping. I hope to be on the road myself by August. Weird time to set out, but I decided to wait til my lease is up and not have to pay a penalty. Stay toasty 😃 I always enjoy your blog, Becky. Thank you for your insights along the way.

    • Becky on January 13, 2016 at 5:29 pm

      August sounds like a fine time Pamela. I broke my lease to move into Cas the year I started RVing and the cost did definitely give me pause. You’re welcome, and thanks for reading.

      I checked my fresh water tank and I’ve used maybe 25% of it in the 6 days I’ve been here so far. I don’t think boondocking for 14 days in one stretch is going to be a problem for me. Well… we’ll see how fast the waste tanks fill up, haha!

  8. Jeff Agueda on January 13, 2016 at 10:16 am

    As much fun as that looks, and I wanted to attend since this is my first official year of full-timing, but I opted for even warmer weather than Quartzsite so I am boondocking about 100 miles south. There is a great area near Winterhaven near the Cargo Muchacho Mountains.
    Enjoy your stay Becky.
    Jeff Agueda recently posted..Insulating a Pop-up Camper using ReflectixMy Profile

    • Becky on January 13, 2016 at 5:25 pm

      I’ve heard about Winterhaven from other bloggers Jeff and will likely try it out myself some time. Enjoy your stay and maybe when the weather gets a little warmer you could make your way north to Q.

      • Jeff Agueda on January 13, 2016 at 8:48 pm

        I plan on working my way up through Q in the next month or so. Maybe the crowd will have backed off a little by then 🙂
        Jeff Agueda recently posted..Insulating a Pop-up Camper using ReflectixMy Profile

        • Becky on January 15, 2016 at 1:26 pm

          After the big tent show is over it slows down people say, so February should be safer.

  9. Roger on January 13, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Hi Becky,
    I so wanted to be at the Q, but I had.to have surgery. I agree with mratlas, last Iyear i stayed at Dome Rock and after 14 days I moved to Plomosa. They have no problem with it, in fact it was the registration volunteer who suggested it.

    • Becky on January 13, 2016 at 5:24 pm

      Good to know Roger! Sorry you couldn’t be here this year, hopefully next year?

  10. mratlas on January 13, 2016 at 9:36 am

    KB Tools….One of my favorites. I’ve never seen or heard of any enforcement of the 14 day stay at Q this time of year. So you probably don’t have to leave town because of it. If anything just move to another location. Maybe North of town like Hi Jolly or Plomosa Road. Plus those locations are quieter at night then Dome Rock Rd. No semis running up and down I10 all night long out there.

    • Becky on January 13, 2016 at 5:23 pm

      The ranger has come out this year and issued/checked permits and it sounds like he’ll be back at the conclusion of RTR to kick anyone out that’s still hanging around, but I think you’re right Mr. Atlas and I could likely just move to another location in the area and be fine. I probably will leave Q for a while though just because there are so many other neat places to camp around here to explore.

  11. Jerry Minchey on January 13, 2016 at 8:37 am


    I’ve never been to Quartzsite. All of the get-togethers sound like a lot of fun. One of my best friends lives permanently in Quartzsite, so maybe next year I will come out and get two birds with one stone — enjoy what Quartzsite has to offer and get to spend some time with my friend and his wife.

    My new book, Young RVers is free to download on Amazon today through Friday. (Becky, I hope it’s ok to post this here. If not, delete the post.)

    Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B014GMBZ4C

    • Becky on January 13, 2016 at 5:20 pm

      It sounds like it gets very hot here in the summer so kudos to your friend for toughing it out all year round Jerry. I would say it’s worth coming to Q at least once for the experience, if it doesn’t end up being your thing you can always leave early, you know?

  12. David Swanson on January 13, 2016 at 8:31 am

    Wonderful synopsis Becky! I highly concure. The wealth of information at
    the RTR for is equal to several years of on the road knowledge at the least. Your talk on work camping was very useful!

    • Becky on January 13, 2016 at 5:18 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it David. I’ve been to several of the morning seminars and so far have enjoyed all of them. Nothing beats real world experience delivered by someone who’s been there and done it.

  13. Dawn from Camano Island (most of the year) on January 13, 2016 at 7:51 am

    Good morning, Becky. We’ve never been to the RTR but it definitely sounds as if it would be a great experience for first-time boondockers.

    We’re down here at Tyson Wash for the 2nd year. Except for all the ATV’s it’s nice & quiet down here. Heading to Yuma Sunday but may be back–we like Q best when all the crowds are gone.

    Have fun & enjoy the desert!

    • Becky on January 13, 2016 at 5:16 pm

      Sounds like fun Dawn! I’ve heard about so many neat places to boondock in this area, I don’t know how I’ll ever find the time to visit them all but I sure wish I could.

      Yeah, if you’re not a fan of crowds (although the RTR site is pretty far out and not crowded itself), come in December or February: I think January is the most popular month.

  14. Jim Schmechel on January 13, 2016 at 7:50 am

    Thank you for the report on RTR: http://www.cheaprvliving.com/gatherings/

    I was really hoping to attend. I hope you write more about it!

    Thank you for keeping us informed 🙂
    Jim Schmechel recently posted..WyomingMy Profile

    • Becky on January 13, 2016 at 5:14 pm

      You’re welcome Jim!

  15. Sandy on January 13, 2016 at 5:18 am

    I hope your new network at Quartzsite helps you find a reputable repair person for the fridge. (I hope you don’t have to drive back to the manufacturer)!

    Amen to what Terri posted. You should have been a journalist!

    • Becky on January 13, 2016 at 5:13 pm

      Problem with being a journalist is other people are telling you what to write about. I like the freedom of blogging much better Sandy. 😉

      Thanks for the fridge well-wishes.

  16. Terri on January 13, 2016 at 4:50 am

    As always with your posts, I feel like I’m right there with you. Wonderful pictures and words to go right along with them. Who knows, maybe one year I will be right there with you??

    I am not surprised at the RTR group being very accepting. That seems to personify Bob Wells, from everything I have read about him and on his blog. I’m so glad you are having a great experience.

    And yep, I can imagine you could go broke if you let yourself with all the shopping. But that’s the beauty of living on a budget and with a small rig. You don’t need it or have the space. 🙂

    I love that part of the desert – so beautiful. Enjoy your time and wow, your sense of adventure in not having a plan right now! 🙂
    Terri recently posted..No Matter How Old You Are, You’re Still Someone’s BabyMy Profile

    • Becky on January 13, 2016 at 5:11 pm

      I like it too Terri, actually has some green and vegetation taller than the Casita.

      Yes, when you get your chance to come out here I bet you’ll enjoy it. 🙂 Hope the rig search is going well!

  17. Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets on January 12, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    Hi Becky! We’re going to be here awhile. We can meet as you please. How far east of 95 and Interstate 10 is RTR? Is that where you are camped? We can come there as early as tomorrow, Wednesday. What’s your schedule?
    Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets recently posted..Let’s Celebrate…My Profile

    • Becky on January 13, 2016 at 5:09 pm

      Would sometime during the 17th-19th work for you Ed? I’m likely going to be moving closer to the Xscapers meetup tomorrow and attending their happy hours etc. on Friday and Saturday so you could stop and say hi there, but I likely won’t have a lot of free time.

      You can find a map for the Xscapers convergence and event times here: https://www.xscapers.com/events/convergences/quartzsite

      • Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets on January 13, 2016 at 8:41 pm

        Not to horn in for Ice Cream, but we could all meet at the same time for ice cream if that works for you and Frank. We were just at Smiling Al’s for pizza this evening. Sharon and I look forward to meeting you. Just let us know what day and time. I’m thinking Sunday.

        • Becky on January 15, 2016 at 1:29 pm

          Everyone here says Smiling Al’s is great pizza Ed, hope you enjoyed it. 🙂

          Sunday sounds good, does afternoon work for you?

          • Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets on January 15, 2016 at 2:23 pm

            Yes! What time?
            Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets recently posted..Let’s Celebrate…My Profile

          • Becky on January 16, 2016 at 2:22 pm

            Early afternoon would be best, noon to 1 pm? I’ll be moving the rig after that and will still want daylight. 🙂

          • Ed@Chasing Sunrises and Sunsets on January 16, 2016 at 7:20 pm

            See you there. We’ll plan to be there at noon. We’ll wait if you are between noon and 1:00. White Jeep Liberty.

          • Becky on January 17, 2016 at 4:13 pm

            Had a good time at the ice cream place, was great meeting you two!

  18. Frank on January 12, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    Well, whenever you feel the need for an Ice Cream, let me know…

    nice place, Right across from Smiling Al’s Pizza place at the wash bridge…


    I’m down in La Posa, Tyson Wash area, west side of the “Long Term Visitor Area” aks LTVA South of the “Q”..


    • Becky on January 13, 2016 at 4:56 pm

      Will do Frank! I hear it’s suppose to be warming up this weekend, that’d be nice for ice cream. 🙂 Would sometime during the 17-19th work for you? After that I’ll be gone for a bit to get the fridge sorted…

  19. Gary on January 12, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    Fun times. I haven’t made it there when it was really going, Last year (2014) was my first year RVing Full Time. I parked my new rig at Black Rock RV and I drove by and did some shopping. This year I’m in Mesa again helping my family out with kids. 🙂

    • Becky on January 13, 2016 at 4:52 pm

      Well, one of the great things about full-timing is that you can decide where you want/need to be and helping out family is certainly a valid choice. I hope you get the chance to see Q at it’s peak (if you’re into that) some year!

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