Dry camping in the Desert of Arizona.

We were dry camping in the desert a bit north of Quartzsite, Arizona.  There are 10’s of thousands of RV’s out here.   Amazing views driving into the area, nothing but RV’s as far as you could see when you crested the hill west of town.

Prior to going out there, it was hard to imagine how many folks would be dry camping out there, all of them camping for free on BLM land.  You only need to check in at the camp host and fill out a form.  You can stay on this BLM land for 14 days at no charge.

We were expecting lots of dirt and sand, but that’s not what we found.  It was all small dark red rocks.  It actually looked like someone had tried to pave the whole area with small reddish rocks.  It was not at all smooth, and walking around in the dark could be face plant material due to the random larger rock sticking up a couple inches higher than the ones around it.

The first night all the stars in the night sky were stunning.  We had figured we would see a lot during our trip last summer, but there was nothing like this, probably due to lots of storms in the evenings.   We had a few very clear nights while we were camping out there in the boondocks.

I was fairly apprehensive about how much water we would use and very apprehensive about how much power we would use from the batteries while there and with that, the requirement to run the generator to charge them back up.   The first few days and nights would help us understand how it would all work.

We arrived fairly late on Tuesday, much later than I wanted to arrive as we had never been out there before and I figured finding it in the dark would be impossible.  We got there right around dusk, forgetting how much earlier it gets dark in the winter and they were one hour ahead of home. I had programmed the GPS coordinates into google maps.  Once we turned off onto Plumosa Road and checked in with the BLM camp host, we set out to find that dot in the desert.   Turns out it was about 3 miles farther out.   About every 1/2 mile there was a dirt road off to the left or right with very small signs stuck into the dirt indicating where different groups were camped.   Since the sun had gone down behind a small mountain west of us, it was getting dark.  It was not easy to read the little signs, so I had to go very slowly when I saw another of them as there were many signs at each dirt road.

I finally pulled over to look at the GPS closely and saw it was still quite a bit further out.  After about 10 more minutes, I finally saw the sign I was looking for and pulled in.   I was glad I didn’t miss it as I was told that was the last dirt road for a long ways and there wasn’t anyplace to turn this rig around out there for miles.

We were camped about 1/2 mile north of the main road on a huge swath of moonscape.   It was good that it was large as we were expecting over 100 coaches to show up.   Most folks would probably arrive on Thursday, so getting there Tuesday evening would let us park fairly close to where the band and bonfires would be.

We met up with the Botts who were putting on the gathering.  David and Brenda are very nice folks.  I first found his blog while I was researching how to connect to Campground Wifi without going thru all the rigamarole I had to work thru during my first nights with the coach. Three different campgrounds where I had to connect each device separately and at two parks had to create accounts for each device. What a hassle that was, and I’m an IT guy!  I knew there was a better way.  After getting back home I started looking for it.

David had a great video showing what he thought was a really good system and how to set it up. I watched it, looked up the devices and thought, that is pretty incredible, and all the parts together were about $80. The devices he specified were commercial type devices. The only drawback I thought of was they weren’t on the newer AC Wifi protocol.  Later I was to find out, only 2 of the campgrounds on our 6 months of traveling even supported AC. So I still haven’t seen a need to update the devices to the newer protocol, but I still may.  We’ve been running AC for a few years in the House.

Anyway, to get back to the week.    We had a great potluck one night and the band David brought in from Phoenix was extremely good. Unfortunately, the band was booked for Sunday night and a lot of folks had to leave Sunday morning, possibly to go back to work Monday morning.  But a good time was had by all who stayed!  The weather even cooperated and the wind died down right before they started to play.

We met lots of fellow dry campers and will be trying to meet up with them again in the future.   We are now fairly confident using the coach as a self-contained unit without requiring any hookups for a week of dry camping where ever we may find ourselves.  (aka Boondocking)

We went into town  and found this small monument to a guy that managed the Camel Fleet for the US Army experiment back in the day.    I also went to see the big tent.   Pretty large area with lots of hawkers like the Fair in Del Mar every year.   Although I couldn’t find the Ginsu knife stall.

After being there 6 nights we left Tuesday morning heading back to San Diego.   What a beautiful week to be here.  Desert camping is pretty nice,  and you can’t beat the price!