Summer RTR and Flagstaff Camp Review


This camp had a good road, beautiful forest, and a fabulous view of Mt. Humphrey

In this post I want to do a review of our current camp near Flagstaff, AZ and give you an update on the Summer RTR.

RTR Update:

I have been pleasantly surprised by the large attendance this year. So far there have been about 44 people total. While the Winter RTR is very large, my expectations for the summer event are very low. There are only a few places warm enough in the winter for Snowbirds to go so we all tend to hang out in the same general area. Quartzsite is pretty central so many people can attend. But in the summer we all scatter to the four-corners of the country sightseeing, and visiting family and friends. Last year at the first Summer RTR, we had about 20, so I thought we would have about the same this year. I think the main reason for the increased attendance is that Flagstaff is centrally located along I40, one of the major East-West arteries so more people can make it.


One of our “Tea and Topic” gatherings.

The Winter RTR is very busy with seminars and activities but I see the summer as a time for relaxation and social interaction, so we have a minimum of planned events. In fact I had planned nothing but when Randy and Lori of joined us they suggested a 10:00 “Tea and Topic” time where we all gathered and picked a topic and just sat around and talked about it. So far Lori led us in a discussion of fear, the next day we had a “Show and Tell” time where we all brought our favorite “Gadgets” and talked about how and why we liked them. Tomorrow I will lead another “Show and Tell” about cooking for vandwellers. We will talk about, solar ovens, my Roadpro 12 volt Lunchbox Oven, pressure cookers, stove-top baking, thermos cooking, and anything anybody brings!


We walked together every morning and night and made many deep connections with each other.

But the best thing about the RTR is always the friends we make and this one is no exception! Vandwellers/RVers are the best bunch of people you could ever want to meet and whenever you get a bunch of them together you know fun and fellowship will be there! I think it is because most of the pressures and stress of modern living has fallen away and we are relaxed and happy! How could we not be nice people! As always, I’ve watched new bonds and friendships formed and I can see many of them lasting a lifetime.


Fellowship is always at its best best sitting around the table. And the best table is in the middle of a National Forest! Here we were having our chili feed. Thanks to Judy and others, it was excellent chili!!

For some reason I can’t explain, I have made more genuine, heartfelt connections since I became a “loner” vandweller than I made in my entire life before then. I’m not talking about casual acquaintances; I mean deep bonds of brotherhood that will last a lifetime and through any time and distance. One of my oldest and best vandwelling friends stopped by briefly and it was so good to see him again! I haven’t seen him since last January, but it was like we had just seen each other and we picked up right where we left off. My only regret was he couldn’t stay longer. I see those connections being established here in many other people!


We were lucky enough to share our camping area with a herd of antelope! Davis S. took this great shot.

My suggestion to all of you is to start right now to make plans to attend next winters RTR. The dates are January 7-21, 2014 in Quartzsite, AZ. I know some of you are far away and the cost of gas and risk of bad weather in January makes attending almost impossible. But I have a suggestion that might help; airfare in January is usually very low, so I suggest you fly into Phoenix and take a bus out to Quartzsite, AZ or Blythe, CA. Once there, rent a U-haul van for $20 a day. That is actually quite cheap, the way they make their money is on the mileage charge but because you rent it in town, you will drive very little! If you are new to vandwelling and don’t even have a van yet, this is the perfect way to get started!

Next I’ll review the Flagstaff Campsite.

Bottom Line: **** (4 Stars) Wonderful campsite! It’s close to great shopping, had great weather, very good internet, lots of wildlife and it’s very beautiful. The only drawback is there was a fairly large amount of traffic on the dusty road and the Ranger enforcement was very, very heavy.

Land Ownership: Coconino National Forest

Date Visited: Last two weeks of June 2013


The RTR isn’t all just fun and games; friends helping friends with all kinds of things (like doing a brake job) is the heartbeat of the RTR.

Best Season: Because it is at 7500 feet is a great place to spend the summer. Most of the time we were here the weather was perfect! But then a heat wave came in for the last few days and it got into the mid 90s. But because we were in the forest and could park in the shade, it wasn’t that bad.

Accessibility-Quality of the Road: *** (3 Stars) There is 2 miles of dirt road to get to camp. The first ½ mile is a little washboard so you have to take it slow but any size rig can make it. Once to camp there is plenty of parking both out in the sun for solar or in the shade to stay cool.

Internet: **** (4 Stars) My Verizon Mifi in a Wilson Sleek amplifier had a good strong signal with just a few exceptions. : I had no problem staying connected and getting my work done. Wilson Electronics – Sleek 4G-V – Verizon 4G Cell Phone Signal Booster for Single User


Any town with a Little Ceasars is all right with me! I bought something from my mom and when I offered to pay her she said to take the money and buy a treat for the group. So I bought 7 pizzas and some ice cream !                       Thanks MOM!!!!

Shopping: ***** (5 Stars) Flagstaff is large enough town to have anything you can want including two Walmarts. It even had a Sam’s Club, but not a Costco. Since so few of us have Costco cards I don’t deduct for there not being one.

Ranger Enforcement: * (1 Star) My first day in camp we had a Ranger come in and be very strict. He looked at my ID, lectured us, tried to catch us in a way to kick us out of the Forest and started the clock on our 14 days. Other Rangers drove through and (because there was so much fire danger) the Fire Rangers were through constantly. All-in-all, it felt like we were constantly being watched. The Coconino NF is famous for its strict enforcement and this is just proof of that to me.


The scenery just took your breathe away! We had to stop often and admire it.

Scenery: **** (4 Stars) This is a beautiful National Forest with a gorgeous mountain as a backdrop. Everyone who comes to camp comments on how beautiful the area is. As an added bonus, Flagstaff has one of the clearest skies for star-gazing in the country and we are very near to the Grand Canyon and Sedona, two of my favorite places.

Feel/Size of the town: ***** (5 Stars) I love Flagstaff! I know I’ve been saying that a lot but the last few towns we have been to in AZ have just been wonderful towns. None of them are huge but they have everything we could want and Arizonans tend to be just amazingly friendly people. They almost all have an Old West feel to them that I really enjoy. Some towns have a high-and-mighty, I’m-better-than-you feel to them, but none of the Arizona towns we’ve been too feel that way at all. They are down-to-earth, blue-collar, homey places. I really love Arizona. Flagstaff has a wonderful downtown and because it is a college town a great vibe to it. I really like that there are so many out-door stores and bike shops.


Thanks David S. for the great photo!

Wildlife: ***** (5 Stars) Since we have been here we have seen deer, antelope, elk and black bear, that is pretty outstanding!! I think it is the best wildlife viewing I have ever seen in any camp.

Solitude/ATVs: * (1 Star) We are on a busy road with fairly constant traffic going by fast and kicking up a lot of dust. The solitude was very poor.

Hiking: **** (4 Stars) We are surrounded by a spider-web of forest service roads leading to unlimited walking. Just ¾ of a mile away is a large pond the dogs love to swim in and that attracts wildlife.

Insects: *** (3 Stars) There are flying bugs here, but they aren’t any big deal. I think it is just average.

Map to the Flagstaff Camp





I've been a full-time VanDweller for 12 years and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again!

32 comments on “Summer RTR and Flagstaff Camp Review
  1. CAE says:

    When I want to feel like something good is still happening in the world, I read your blog. Thanks.

  2. Offroad says:

    Nice suggestion about flying into Phoenix and taking a bus up to Quartzite. Might actually do that for winter RTR

    • Bob Bob says:

      Offroad, yeah it really is fairly cheap to fly into Phoenix and $20 a day for a U-haul van is both your transportation and your home. Ideal!!

  3. rick says:

    If you planned a day trip into mexico for fun and dentistry during the winter rtr it might make it super appealing to folks who might have to fly in and rent a van. I know I would love to get my teeth looked at. Big bonus to visit mexico too! Love your blog, Bob

    • Bob Bob says:

      Rick, that is a brilliant idea that I never thought of!! Airfare and rental might cost you $500-600 but most of us could save that in dental, glasses and drug prescriptions. Thanks for the great suggestion!

  4. Joy says:

    Great suggestion on renting a uhaul van and flying in. That might be an option for me.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Joy, it really could work. I’m thinking of trying to do that for an East coast RTR. And as Rick pointed out, if you go to Mexico you can probably save all of it by getting dental, prescription drugs and glasses for pennies on the dollar.

  5. Kim says:

    Good to hear that the RTR is a success! I’m not even jealous. Really.
    Kim recently posted…Home Again!My Profile

  6. HoboBerg says:

    Ive noticed the forest service/Rangers get pretty intense, with July 4th on the way, and no monsoons yet. After they hit it usually mellows out a bit in my opinion. Maybe time for a rain dance? Plus A-1 mountain road has always had issues.

    Not sure what your plan is,but there is some good camps located west of the pilot station at exit 185. Just make sure you go far enough to hit the Kaibab. Closer to town always equals more enforcement.

    Have a good one!
    HoboBerg recently posted…Chipmunks and Beer?My Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      HoboBerg, you are probably right, I’m just afraid this might be more in the areas with a lot of use, like around Flagstaff. I do think you are right about A-1 Mt Road, there is a lot of traffic and activity. There was serious talk about closing the whole Coconino NF it is so dry. I think you read my mind because we are just east of 185 in the Kaibab NF. Beautiful spot with good internet. I feel good about this one.

      The clouds and thunderstorm are here, but not much rain yet. Today we got just enough to get the ground wet.

  7. LaVonne says:

    *coughcough* BLACK BEAR?! I’m glad no one mentioned it while I was there!

    I had a wonderful time, Bob — and the camp was PERFECT (except for that black bear thing.) Thank you!!!
    LaVonne recently posted…The Complete Flake Goes CampingMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      laVonne, one of the guys saw the black bear whie he was riding his motorcycle around in the Forest. That was the only sighting and it was pretty far from camp. You were safe!!!

  8. So sorry I missed the summer RTR, but have been spending time with my beautiful grandchildren. Yesterday was a great day. In the morning, I won a new Solar Sun Oven, in the afternoon I spent time at a wading pool park and my little granddaughter was coloring a picture, so I showed her my sketchbook… now she introduces me as “This is my grandma, she is an artist and kayaks everywhere.” At one point she reached over and hugged me and said “You are my very best grandma! I love you.” Well, there just isn’t any way a day can get better than that. But when the solar oven arrives, I will be showing them how to cook in it and that too will be a fantastic day.
    Charlene Swankie recently posted…Snake River, Idaho PaddleMy Profile

  9. stanw909 says:

    Where are we going next?

    • Bob Bob says:

      Stan, we literally moved 5 miles down the freeway onto Historic Route 66. The RTR was off exit 190 on I40 and we moved down to exit 185 on I40. it’s a beautiful spot with great internet and we are only 13 miles to Flagstaff.

  10. Cheri and Tony says:

    If you have any way of scanning and posting pictures we would love to see some of Bob when he was young. You raised him to be a very loving and generous man. I am sure you are very proud of him as you should be. He is special to so many of us. Thank you… HUGS to you.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Cheri, if I turned out any good at all, it is all due to my mom who always loved me and stood by me through thick and thin.

  11. Nelda says:

    I’m so sorry we missed out this year. We have been thinking of all of you and truly miss seeing everyone.
    Nelda and Jerry

    • Bob Bob says:

      Nelda, we missed you too!! But it is probably for the best you didn’t make it, I’m sure you can’t afford another flood!! (There house flooded while they were at the RTR last summer)

  12. Diane says:

    It was great meeting the few of y’all I met the first few days of the camp. I have been talking to my girlfriend about the group and she says…”you should make a second trip out” I love that she is so supportive of my gypsy personality. Time will not permit a second trip, but I hope to make it to the winter get together. On the bright side…My girl and I am spending a week on Santa Rosa island (Channel island national park) which will be a great escape from this wicked heat wave. I am sooooooo bummed that I missed seeing a bear!!!!!!! I am glad you all are having a blast…make a toast for me one of these fine nights.
    Diane recently posted…my kidsMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Diane, we were all surprised you had to leave so early–mainly because we all get such a kick out of watching you push your dogs in the baby carriage!! Just kidding, we all missed you! See you next time!

  13. Bob Bob says:

    Jim, it was a great time and we all made lots of new friends, and that is the most important thing. You are all slave-drivers!! But I will keep the posts coming!

  14. Bob Bob says:

    I remember very little about flagstaff then (I was only 5 years old!!) but I do remember the time at Christmas when dad bought us a Christmas puppy and put it on the floorboards of the car and totally surprised Brenda (my sister) and I.

    In some ways this is like a 53 year reunion!
    I love you mom!!

  15. Curtis says:

    Sounds like you all had a nice time. I won’t be able to make the January 2014 one but will plan to attend one as soon as I can.

  16. Jude Lesemann says:

    Hey, guys, those are not antelope they are American Pronghorn…we don’t have antelope in N. America.

  17. Karin Wolfert says:

    Dear Bob,I really enjoy your videos, and pictures. Hope that I will actually make it there someday soon. I became disabled last year and lost both legs, but i have a lot of courage and drive. Nothing is impossible with God. Love to you, Karin

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