When you join the RV full-timer community you start to hear about RVing meccas. These places usually have a couple of common traits; good weather in the winter and budget friendly places to park your RV. We recently visited two of these sites. Our review of this sites is our impression of these places. I have no doubt that our impressions may differ greatly from others.
Slab City, CA
Located in southeastern California “Slab City” has formed around an abandoned WWII Marine base. The concrete slabs left behind by the base buildings make for great places for folks to park their RVs. Now there is no government or private entity that regulates the use of the land, at least not actively. This means it is totally free to house your RV for as long as you want…and people do. Some “slabbers” have lived there for years, others come and go with the weather.
There are several great qualities to slab city such as the fact that it is free, 24 hour library, regular free music events and the general freedom to live anyway you want. It is also a very artsy place. One “slabber” created Salvation Mountain, a man-made “mountain” that has become a Slab City landmark.
We thought there were some not so great qualities about Slab City as well. Since no one is in charge there is no one to stop you for throwing your garbage or even dumping your RV waste tanks anywhere you want, like say just outside your door. When we first arrived at Slab City the raw sewage smell was overpowering , maybe because it was a fairly hot day. We also got the feeling that “outsiders” were not necessarily welcomed. We may have gotten that feeling by reading the many “KEEP OUT” signs and such or it may have been the lady that stood in front of the motorhome, while we were parked trying to get our bearings, staring at us for a good 10 minutes. Now she may have been a very nice lady who was just mesmerized by beauty that is our motorhome, but I kinda doubt it.
Needless to say we didn’t end up staying at Slab City. We opted to dry camp near by at the Salton Sea State Recreation Area. It was $10 a night, but well worth it.
Just 18 miles east of California is the small town of Quartzsite. During the summer Quartzsite has a population of less than 4000, but come winter time the snowbirds come out it force. The Arizona Highway Department has estimated between 750,000 and 1,000,000 people converge on the town. There are three main factors that make this an RVers mecca. One is the great warm weather in the winter. Another is the large amount of BLM land that surrounds the city. There are several sites where you can park for free for up to 14 days and even one location where you can park long term for a very reasonable fee. The third factor is the annual two month long gem show and swap meet. You can find just about any rock or fossil known to man at this show. It is huge!
Quartzsite really caters to the RV community. You can find all kinds of RV specialty business, such as RV window repair, all over town. If you are looking for a used RV this is a great place to shop. We stopped in at a couple of places just to look around and were shocked at how low the prices were. There is also a very active community center. They offer dance classes during the week and have helpful seminars on things like hip replacement. These weren’t topics we were really interested in, but we thought it was great that they were offered.
Quartzsite had a much, much different feel than Slab City. It was much more like a place I could see my grandma and grandpa enjoying. In fact, it did feel a little good being the youngest people in just about any room we walked into. 🙂