Magic Circle, Quartzsite, Az – Who Knew?

I’ve driven past Quartzite a few dozen times. It’s a flat largely empty bit of desert near the California Border on the way to Phoenix. Known as a place with a decently low price of gasoline, and a LOT of free government camping land.

I’d intended to camp there next trip coast to coast (that I’m hoping will be soon). Simply because it is free in many places. They have a HUGE meet-greet-swap-meet for RV stuff and folks from all over the country migrate down there for winter (because 75 F in the desert beats the shit out of MINUS 30 F in 20 feet of snow…).

Last trip, I even scouted out the place on my way to Florida (but being on a fast hustle to get to Jan 6th events, had no time to camp). and figured out where some of the camping is located (all around the little town of Quartzsite that’s really a giant gas station and RV supply depot…)

So I was pretty well set that Quartzsite is on my Must Camp list on the next run.

Time Passes…

I’m currently setting up one of my Wagons as a Mini-RV. Ordered a 24 inch x 72 inch camping cot that just happens to fit Just Fine inside a Mercedes 300TE Wagon with the seats folded down. It goes to the shop next week for a tune up / prep cycle, then I finish the outfitting for living on the road in much more comfort than ever before. (Not that sleeping in a Mercedes seat is uncomfortable, it’s just that it isn’t FLAT…and ‘laying’ on your side or back is not very easy at just that time when your Sit Upon desires not to be LAID upon either…) But I digress…

Suffice it to say that a Road Trip is planned for “sometime” in the next few months. Whenever my current (Surprise!) employment allows. And it will be in a wagon set up as a mini-RV for one. AND I’m planning to make my first “sleep over” in Quartzsite.

So I go looking for more clue. MAN oh man was I hit with the Clue Stick.

Now, totally unrelated, I’ve also come to the conclusion that I need to expose a LOT more skin to the sun to get my Vitamin D level up a LOT more. Like maybe all of my skin for hours…

So I run into this video about Quartzsite, and some place called “Magic Circle”. Sounds good. I think I’ll check it out. Fair warning, the name (Wonder Hussy) and the context might cause you to think there is more in the video that there is. There isn’t. Safe For Work (mostly) and almost entirely a smiling face talking about the Magic Circle in Quartzsite. So what is it?

Seems there is a designated chunk of Federal BLM Bureau Of Land Management land, set aside for camping in the buff. Naked. No clothes. LOTS of Vitamin D making. Did I mention my new found appreciation for my need for a lot more Vitamin D?…

I guess I now need to do a geolocate on it and figure out just where I’m going to be camping…

While the video wanders a lot before you get much information, I note in passing that there were flags from Texas, a Blue Lives Matter flag, a Gadsden Flag and more. Seem folks that like liberty like ALL Liberties…

So also, I’m thinking that January, February those are the lowest Vit-D times of the year. Biggest times for Quartzsite. Maybe I need to plan on a seasonal Vit-D event… Hey, H.R., you got a rig. What do you think about a winter in Quartzsite? Been there? Got the (non) T shirt? Or not?

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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12 Responses to Magic Circle, Quartzsite, Az – Who Knew?

  1. E.M.Smith says:

    Good ol’ Boy & Gal setting up a tarp on a small camper.

    What I learned from them is to think about rain shedding and wind. ONE pole at the end with the sides pulled down from it sheds wind better. Covering the ridge with a ridge pole sheds water better. Got it.

    Flat Tarp no. Bent tarp, yes.

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    Quasi overview of Quartzsite:

  3. Nancy & John Hultquist says:

    33.600405, -114.197546

  4. jim2 says:

    If heat is a problem, the tarp over the camper will absorb heat and dissipate it to the air, keeping the camper roof cooler.

  5. agesilaus says:

    You have missed the boat for Quartzite 2020-1. The season runs from roughly November to March/April, After that you will be seeing those 110 deg days. And it isn’t quite free, you need a roughly $150 pass from the BLM that allows you to camp in the Qsite area for seven months in the LTVA *Long Term Visitor Area). We planned to go but the chinese plague more or less ruined the last season. Lots of events were cancelled including the Escapees Boomerang.
    Most fulltime RVers are following the 70 degree temperature line north for summer.

  6. E.M.Smith says:


    I’ve been playing around with a couple of my vehicles, figuring out the best way to set them up for “stealth camping” and “boondocking” (and learning that “those are things” and their proper names and meanings…).

    One thing I did was play with a tarp off the side of the Subaru Roof Rack. Just very basic tie one side to the rack, put a couple of stakes in the corners. Instant lean-to ‘tent’. (No mosquito netting though, so there’s that…)

    Then I realized I could get a small ‘camping cot’ in the back of the wagon…

    Now I’m thinking “Gotta Getta Bigga Tarp!”. Basically, use the whole car as a “ridge pole” and have one side staked down, the other out on poles, and maybe even an end run bit. Water, sun, whatever kept off of the car, wind reduced. Whole thing ought to be warmer in the cold and cooler in the heat.

    Plus, I get a “patio” area for chair, table, cooking, whatever; and a covered area to set out any “stuff” that doesn’t mind being set out… Like fishing poles and stuff…

    So I’ve gone from “lay the seat back and snooze in the rest area” to “Get a camping space and tarp over the whole vehicle for a double wall enclosure… and enjoy the non-drive time.

    We’ll see how much of it actually gets done in practice. My last formal camping was about 25 years ago. Loaded up a 1 Ton 4 x 4 Crew Cab Ford pickup truck with a Cabin Tent (rented from a store now out of business), full suite of camping gear, Queen Sized inflatable bed, cots for the kids, etc. etc. and took spouse and 2 young kids camping. Set up about 100 feet from the camp grounds shower / facilities and with all night light from the street lamp on it (subdued but present).

    Even with all that it was too “rough” for the spouse…. So not done again. Oh Well.

    Me? I’ve slept on the ground in a paper shred filled craft paper sleeping bag… (Gov’t Issue when fighting a forest fire once…) and thought it was fine, and I’ve “car camped” across the nation a few times with nothing much other than a car seat, sleeping bag, flat of water bottles, and camp stove / food supply. It would seem I don’t need as much as some other folks…

    I still can’t believe that even with essentially taking a whole house with us, and having a full queen sized bed with showers and such a very short walk away, it wasn’t enough… I think she’s said something like her idea of camping rough is a Howard Johnson’s…

    Oh Well…

    Back at now:

    So I’m thinking that the “cot in car” with some window blockers would be fine for the rest area stealth camping, then adding a huge tarped out surround in a camp grounds would make for a very nice day or two.

    I’ve slept in the Banana Boat wagon in the Mojave / Arizona deserts a couple of trips, and when the sun comes up and in the windows, the car heats up fast. A tarp over would make “sleeping in” a possibility ;-)

    So now I’m left with the burning question:

    Sand Color or Forrest Green? Or maybe both…

  7. E.M.Smith says:


    Yeah, I realized I’d missed it just about the time I got really interested in it … But that means plenty of time to prepare!

    There’s free BLM land (not LTVA) outside of the LTVA areas. As I’m mostly looking at a “couple of days” max when passing through, I’ll likely be in one of them. (Scoped out a couple last trip, plus some other land in southern route (I-8 bypass) Arizona and New Mexico. I was thinking about camping then, but didn’t have the time nor did I bring the gear for it. But I could check out some things from maps when getting off the road for a break. So I did.

    I doubt I’ll have a chance to do any LTVA duration stuff for years (if ever). Spouse doesn’t do well if I’m gone more than a couple of weeks… and yet doesn’t want to “camp” with me. I suspect even a full on Class-A would be seen as “camping” in that POV… So the 14 day limit in the non-LTVA areas is still more than I need. Oh Well…

    FWIW, I grew up where it was “110 in the shade, and there ain’t no shade” in summer. I’m actually comfortable in it. Go figure… Just drink a lot of water / soda / whatever and don’t move too fast. Find a way to get some shade between 10 am and 4 pm if possible.

    Drove through that whole stretch of desert, from West Texas to the California Mojave in a VW Fastback without air conditioning in August one year… interesting trip…

    While I’m not going to go out of my way to repeat that, I’d not mind crossing the desert and camping in the “off season”. I’d just set up camp about 7 PM, stay and sleep through the night, then be back on the road by 10 AM the next day, enjoying the AC during that part of the day… IIRC that’s more or less what I did when I was in the Banana Boat. Found some empty rural road, opened the rear hatch about 6 inches, and had a wonderful evening on a small mattress in the back. Woke up about an hour after sunrise as the cabin started heating up. (LOTS of windows in that wagon…) Quick breakfast, fire up the engine (and A/C) and put another 800 miles on…

    But I’m interested in trying it a bit more sedately next time. Maybe work in a few “day or two” stops at more formal camping areas… (i.e. where it is actually legal ;-) A lot less spent in Love’s Parking Lot or Rest Areas or some random roadside.

    FWIW, when I’m doing a cross country to / from Florida, I generally adjust my route latitude based on weather at the time. I-10 / I-8 bypass in winter to avoid cold and snow on the others. I-40 in summer. I-80 if there’s some kind of weather problem on the others and the road isn’t a snow zone.

    Last trip was the first time I’d ever been stopped by snow / ice on I-10, so now I’ve added an optional Hwy 90 further south through part of Texas…

    Oh, and on Yet Another Trip, took a Honda w/ a friend, over I-90 northern route. Same as the “outbound” trip in the VW some years before. Up to Washington State, turn right… I’m pretty sure that I’ve taken all the possible InterState routes (and several of the State Highways…) across the country. Even I-70 once (though I don’t remember exactly why ;-) and I-20 split off of I-10 too.

    Only one I’m missing, I think, is to take I-8 from San Diego. I’ve done the bypass part near Phoenix, but usually cut up to I-10 near the California border as I’m going more north. OTOH, we’re talking a pretty short run from San Diego to Arizona… Maybe some future year…

    I think maybe the wanderlust is starting to kick in ;-)

  8. rhoda klapp says:

    When I was in the Army I got paid for camping out, so I can’t now do it for nothing, I’d lose my professional status.

    OK, my first time in CA we were surprised by Labor Day and couldn’t get a hotel so we bought a tent and some gear and camped at Lake Cachuma near Santa Inez. Surrounded by Winnebago gin palaces. We were younger then.

  9. philjourdan says:

    You had me at hello! ( Sorry no).

    I go with shorts an short sleeves. And sometimes shirtless. But not nude. I get enough Vit-D as I am darker than my Hispanic wife! But Ldo like your thinking.

  10. Scott says:

    I think rather than a cot, I’d do something like a Thermarest base camp mattress.

  11. E.M.Smith says:


    There’s a very important point I probably left out. Length.

    The wagon, in back, is about 2 inches too short for me to lay out flat. IF I remove the bottom part of the seat, that flips up forward when the back is laid down to make the back all flat, I can get an extra 4 inches, but that’s not supported in any way.

    The cot is just high enough (and one end is cantilevered without legs) such that that end goes just on top of the flat part from the folded up seat bottom. And I get a nice long “sleeping platform” without the need to: Sleep all bent up. Build a box and raised frame like so many others do. Find some other way to make 72 inches of flat.

    I do have a sleeping pad ( self inflating inch or so of foam inside a nylon like sleeve) that will go on top of the cot, and then the bag. So it isn’t like it’s just going to be me and the cot. I probably ought to have mentioned that. Same kind of pad normally used on the tent floor or on bare dirt. It doesn’t need to be highly insulating (due to the cot being over air not over frozen dirt, and the car being somewhat insulating too) but does provide some, hopefully enough.

    But your point is well taken. A cot alone is not warm enough.

    Just think of the cot as a “sleeping platform” I can “build” in the car without any tools, in about 1 minute, and for about $40, that stows easily. Bedding is applied on top of it, including mattress pad.


    My problem, being possessed of the Red Head Gene, is that any time it is warm enough to go nude, I’ll be crispy in minutes. Any time it’s dark enough to go nude, I’m too cold. Oh Well… Then there’s the fact that I hate mosquitoes and get a welt when bit. Some places I’d not want a welt that itches for weeks and sometimes leaves a scar…

    OTOH, perhaps they tolerate bashful visitors well…

    @Rhoda Klapp:

    Once, about 35 years ago, spouse, me, and our relatively newborn son were going on a vacation trip. IIRC he was maybe about a year old. We head north in a Honda Civic Wagon. Not any particular holiday or anything, just spring / early summer. Still cold nights, but nice days.

    About 200 miles out we start looking for a hotel. Yeah, a bit early. All of about 3+ a bit hours on the road, but it was, IIRC, a Friday Get-out-of-town and I’d worked all week and we just wanted to be away somewhere. No joy. Rinse and repeat from about 6 PM to about 11 PM all up the California Coast.

    Seems “somebody” had some kind of event going on and had sucked up all the available rooms from San Francisco to Oregon. NOTHING was available. Absolutely nothing. OK…

    It’s now late. We did have dinner in a restaurant, but everyone really wants some sleep. I’m “pilot in charge” and I’ve had 400 miles of Aw Shit.

    In or near Crescent City (Oregon Border) I pull into a KOA Campground. They are open, and they have a space. I take it. In the car, we have some coats, some baby blankets. And my emergency kit. In the kit is Space Blanket. Honda seats fully recline…

    So we leaned the seats all the way back, bundled up in the coats, kicked off the shoes, and spread out the space blanket.

    It worked fairly well. Kid ended up on top of us, snoozing away. We took turns as needed (maybe 2 times changed who was the kids mattress. Rather like when he was waking up all night ;-). Car got a bit cold at night, but not too bad. Space Blanket was warm enough.

    Morning came, we woke up. Used the facilities and had some snacks from what was in the car. I think a shower was involved too.

    Breakfast at a local restaurant.

    Then IMMEDIATELY started calling ahead. This was were we found out some Big Thing had booked up hotels 1/2 way into Oregon. Found, and reserved a room somewhere in Oregon.

    The rest of the trip was uneventful with a constant pattern of reserved ahead room, drive just to it, and enjoy the drive.

    Oddly, I don’t really remember what we did on the rest of the trip. I know we visited some natural scenic spots, and I think we did some city stuff, in Portland maybe, back when it was nice. What sticks with me is the night as a family in the car using the “Emergency Gear” to have a reasonably nice night instead of a disaster.

    And that is why I always travel with an “Emergency Bag” that includes just enough stuff to make a minimal meal and sleep comfortably in the car or on the ground. ‘Cause you never know…

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