Home Again to Quartzsite, AZ
I’ve been spending my winters in the Arizona desert for quite a few years now and I’m starting to get a pretty good idea of how they work. Early to mid-October are almost always still hot and by that I mean they begin right around 100 degrees during the day and don’t cool off a whole lot at night, maybe into the 80s. But then a series of storms will pass through and each storm will bring a varying amount of rain and wind with it and after it leaves the temperatures will drop by about 10 degrees and then stay down at those temperatures. The result is that by the beginning of November the temperature is very pleasant, somewhere around the mid-70s.
This year exactly followed that pattern, in early October we got a storm through and the temperature dropped into the low 90s. Then, in mid-October another storm went through and dropped the temperature in the 80’s and finally last week another storm came through and dropped the temperatures into the 70s, which is where they are now.
Because most of October is too hot in the desert for me, I stay in northern Arizona near Flagstaff and wait for it to cool down. The same pattern works there except the temperatures there start in the 80s which are very pleasant in the shade of the National Forest, and every storm drops the temperatures down the same 10 degrees but before long they are in the 60s during the day and 30s at night and it’s too cool for me to stay there.
What every snowbird knows is you have to find an intermediate elevation between the 7000 feet of Flagstaff and 700 feet of Quartzsite, in Arizona a very good choice is Sedona. At 4000 feet it’s much cooler than Quartzsite, but much warmer than Flagstaff. Like Goldilocks said, “This one is just right!” So the second week of October we left Flagstaff and went to Sedona.
However, the same pattern happens there as the rest of Arizona and we got a storm through that dropped the temperatures down and it was starting to get pretty cool at night. Then last week the forecast was for a BIG storm to come through and drop the temperatures all over Arizona by more than 10 degrees and that would put the night time temps into the low 30s in Sedona, and that ‘s cooler than we wanted so it was time to move. The group of us camping together there made plans to leave on November 4th and move collective camp to Quartzsite. We got lucky and the rain held off, but about an hour before I was done breaking camp the skies opened up and it started pouring rain! I was almost done, but not quite so I had to finish packing in the rain and I was soaked by the time I hit the road!
Worse, it had gotten pretty cool so almost the whole drive to Quartzsite I had the heat and windshield wipers on drying out my clothes. The rain even turned into sleet at one point it was so cool. One of our group had made an appointment in Flagstaff to get his solar installed at Northern Arizona Wind and Sun (the cheapest and best place that I know of) and while it was cool and raining on us, it was snowing and freezing in Flagstaff!! They got 6 inches of snow overnight and were in the low teens!
We were moving south just in the nick of time!!!
As soon as you make the final drop down in elevation to Phoenix you can feel it getting warmer so I could turn the heat and windshield wipers off. As oppressive as the heat is there during the summer, it’s wonderful in the fall and winter!!
I hadn’t been to a Costco for awhile so I stopped there on the way through and saw gas for under $2.00 a gallon for the first time in a long time–it was $1.94 at Costco, but around $2.05 everywhere else in town. After stocking up at Costco it was time to jump on Interstate 10 and drive the 130 miles to Quartzsite to my November camp.
Generally there is very little enforcement of the 14 day rule on BLM land in Quartzsite during November. But starting in December they start to take notice of everyone who’s there and by the end of December they go around and evict anyone who is over their 14 day limit. Because you have to be gone for at least 14 days before you can come back, I can’t risk that happening to me before the RTR on January 5. For that reason I won’t camp in Quartzsite in December. I’ll spend the rest of November here and then leave around December 1st for Ehrenberg where I’ll stay until it’s time to come back over for the RTR. It’s a little inconvenient, but no big deal.
Already there is a group gathering here. Right now there are 12 of us camping together, 6 women and 6 men. I also know of at least 5 over in Ehrenberg. Here in Quartzsite our group is in 6 vans, 1 Prius, 2 slide-in campers and a 25 foot Travel Trailer. As November goes on, more of us will trickle in and gather together.
You’re welcome to join us! The camaraderie of being part of a tribe is wonderful and the weather has been perfect! Every day it’s in the mid-70s and nights are in the high-40s. Amazingly, the forecast is for it to stay just that way for quite a while to come. So if you are already dreading another winter of snow, cold, storms and rain, join us in the gorgeous Arizona desert where you can be a part of a community and enjoy better weather!
See you soon!
I’m making Videos with my good friends James and Kyndal on their YouTube Channel. See them here:
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Check out a Video Tour of our Quartzsite Camp:
Thanks for supporting this site by using these links to Amazon. I’ll make a small percentage on your purchase and it won’t cost you anything, even if you buy something different.
Benchmark Atlas to Arizona: Benchmark Atlas From Amazon.com
Delorme Atlas and Gazetteer
I’d never go to Arizona without this photography guide: Photographing the Southwest: Volume 2–Arizona
A great book I recommend: Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers,