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Winter 2015 Boondocking Location Round-Up

When we were first approaching our very first winter season in the desert southwest, we had big plans of hitting lots of awesome boondocking sites. There were so many incredible sounding locations on our radar, and we were anxious to check them all out.

Looking back to create this round-up, I have to admit – that we only hit FIVE boondocking spots. It just boggles my mind. It’s amazing how quickly a couple months can go by when you’re filling each day up with awesome people, great locations and endless adventures.

So, by popular request – here’s a round up of the places we stayed this past winter for our extended stays.

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A) Borrego Springs, CA – Rockhouse  / Clark Dry Lake Bed

Borrego Springs - our first winter 2015 boondocking stop.

Borrego Springs – our first winter 2015 boondocking stop.

This location started our winter boondocking season off in mid-December, where we followed our caravanning buddies to one of their favorites.

Located just east of Borrego Springs, CA there are a couple of turn offs from S22 around the Rockhouse Trail area. The area is also known as Clark Dry Lake Bed area, due to the dried lake bed at the bottom of the incline.

This area is huge and wide open with lots of options for boondocking. You can definitely get space to yourself here, while still being amongst a vibrant community if you choose to be. Lots of long time boondockers come where year after year, it’s just that sort of magical place.

In the area, there is plenty to do – lots of hiking opportunities, exploring of awesome metal sculptures, off roading and close to a quaint little town. You won’t go bored here, unless you want to.

We would definitely return to this location in the future!

    • Local Area

      Local Area

      Stats of our Stay:

      • Days Stayed: 23 (December 18 – January 9)
      • Cost of Stay: $8 dump fee at state park
    • GPS Location: 33.297956, -116.286415
    • Nearest City: Borrego Springs, less than 5 miles away – has a two grocery markets, several shops, restaurants, RV parks and a weekly farmer’s market. Most should be able to make do with the town’s amenities, but do be prepared for higher prices at the grocery stores.
    • Owned By: Private
    • Cost: Free
    • Stay Limits: None (the State Park is said to eventually be purchasing this spit of land, and then their 14-day rules will apply.)
Treasures found around Clark Dry Lake Bed.

Treasures found around Clark Dry Lake Bed.

  • Closest Dump Station: About 8 miles – Anza-Borrego State Park Campground, to the west of Borrego Springs. You just pay the daily access fee to use it, including access to potable water ($8 during our visit).  There’s also a free dump station at the intersection of S22 and Hwy 86 at the fuel station.
  • Internet Access: Both Verizon and AT&T LTE worked great here. The signal drops off as you go down further towards Clark Dry Lake Bed – so stay closer to S22 for better signal. A booster and exterior antenna with height will vastly improve the situation here. We were able to stream video and keep up with all our online activities just fine.
  • Additional Tips: The visitors center in town keeps a dumpster and recycling bin for use by boondockers. Just go inside during open hours and ask for the key. General Delivery is available at the post office in town. And apparently the hardware store will accept packages for boondockers (double check first, of course.).

More Information on this Area:

Our posts from Borrego Springs:

Back in Boonie Bliss | No Matter The Age.. No Matter the Rig.. We’re All Nomadic Peers | A Bright New Year Starts in Borrego Springs

Other posts / info:

WheelingIt’s Review of Clark Dry Lake Boondocking Area

Campendium Reviews

B) Quartzsite, AZ – Plomosa Road

We started out alone here, then had several join nearby.

We started out alone here, then had several join nearby.

Our next stop was to check out Quartzsite, AZ for the BIG SHOW that happens every year. We timed our visit to arrive a few days in advance of the tent opening and experienced a big ramp up of population around us. Due to friends already in the area, we joined them off Plomosa Road which is about 8 miles north of the city. Our location was one of the free 14-day Stay BLM areas.

There are lots of options however for boondocking in Quartzite, including other 14-day areas and LTVA (Long Term Visitor Areas) that offer amenities with a permit purchase.

We liked the Plomosa Road area as it was a bit out of town and away from the chaos, but yet had its own character and community. There are many opportunities to get space to yourself, but because so many come here – except that you might have settlers nearby. You check in at the camp host to get your free 14-day permit, then Plomosa Road goes on for about 3 miles. Just turn off anywhere that calls you and find your ideal location.

We enjoyed the Quartzsite experience much more than we thought we would, and will likely come back. For variety, we would check out other boondocking opportunities in the area – such as Dome Rock or Scaddan Wash.

    • Local Area

      Local Area

      Stats of our Stay:

      • Days Stayed: 10 (January 11-20)
      • Cost of Stay: $16 (RV Park stay in Blythe afterwards to dump/fill tanks)
    • GPS Location: 33.754478, -114.201458
    • Nearest City:Quartzsite, AZ is just 8 miles south, and has a couple small markets, flea markets, RV shops, the ‘Big Tent’ and several restaurants.  Parker is about 20 miles north if you need access to larger stores and amenities, or Blythe is about 25 miles to the west.
    • Owned By: BLM (Bureau of Land Management)
    • Cost: Free
    • Stay Limits: 14-Days – Strictly Enforced, Permit Required.
    • Closest Dump Station: There’s a ‘RV Pit Stop’ on the way back into town, and several RV Parks in the area offer access to their dump stations for a fee. We opted to visit a Passport America Park in Blythe to handle our dumping/filling – which was about the same price as paying for a dump station/water fill.
The Big Tent in Quartzite.

The Big Tent in Quartzite.

  • Internet Access: Both Verizon and AT&T LTE worked great here. We were able to stream video and keep up with all our online activities just fine.
  • Additional Tips: The refuse transfer station is on the way back into town, and is where you can dump off trash & recyclables (no fee). They are only open Sun – Wednesday until around 2pm (double check hours).  General Delivery is available at the post office in town, but can experience long lines. The town of Bouse is just a few miles out east of Plomosa Road, and their post office can do GD as well without the long waits – might be worth the drive!

More Information on this Area:

Our posts from Quartzsite:

Desert Boondocking off Plomosa Road | Shopping at the Big Tent | The Social Side of Quartzsite

More information on Quartzsite:

Map of other BLM Boondocking in Quartzsite

Campendium Reviews

C) Cibola, AZ – Cibola National Wildlife Refuge

Our idea of a luxurious RV 'resort' - wide open space around us!

Our idea of a luxurious RV ‘resort’ – wide open space around us!

After our jam packed Quartzsite experience, we re-joined up with buddies in a location not too well known. We were tipped off by a friend volunteering at the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge that there was wide open and rarely used BLM land nearby. Perfecto!

Directly across the street from visitor center to Cibola National Wildlife Refuge is a little cattle guarded gate to a dirt road (there’s a windmill there too), which is where we went. The gate is a bit scary looking, but just navigate over it with caution. There are several easily accessible sites near the base of the hill.. or you can climb up higher for more isolation. There is a low dip in the road that takes some careful navigation for larger rigs.. and be extra careful the further you explore for soft ground (we almost got stuck).

There’s other boondocking areas all around as well that can be scouted out. Great hiking in the area and the wildlife refuge is definitely worth exploring.

We’d definitely return here.. our stay was magical.

    • Local Area

      Local Area

      Stats of our Stay:

      • Days Stayed: 14 (January 22 – Feburary 4)
      • Cost of Stay: $20 (RV Park stay in Winterhaven afterwards to dump/fill tanks)
    • GPS Location: 33.363450, -114.666427
    • Nearest City:The little tiny town of Cibola is just a mile away, but doesn’t offer much. The nearest shopping and amenities is about 20 miles away in Blythe, CA. It’s an easy drive due north (the road and bridge is completely passable, even for RVs).
    • Owned By: BLM (Bureau of Land Management)
    • Cost: Free
    • Stay Limits: 14-Days – No noticeable enforcement
    • Closest Dump Station: Nothing nearby – you’ll either need to go north to Blythe or south to the Yuma area. We dumped/filled in Blythe before hand, and then dumped/filled in Winterhaven afterwards.)
Our friends arriving.. taking the road up nice and slow.

Our friends arriving.. taking the road up nice and slow.

  • Internet Access: Both Verizon and AT&T LTE worked great here. You’re in line of site of an underused tower just across the river.
  • Additional Tips: Come in prepared with everything you need.. there’s no amenities nearby at all. You’ll also need to be prepared to store and haul your own trash out.

More Information on this Area:

Our posts from Cibola:

Re-Charging near Cibola National Wildlife Refuge

D) Yuma, AZ – American Girl Mine / Ogilby Road

Sweet sweet solitude.

Easy to find lots of space.

Desolate is the word for this place, it’s really not too much to look at – nor is there much to do.

But it’s easily accessible just west of Yuma and not too far off I-8, technically in California. The area has active mining activity, and the roads are well maintained for their heavy equipment. Talking with some long timers in the area, we learned that much of the land is owned by the mine company for water rights to maintain the roads – and they don’t mind respectful boondockers staying on their land longer term with permission.

You get views of sand dunes to your west, and to the east mountains. It’s easy enough to find space here with lots of room around you. Some historical stuff in the area to checkout, and a geocache series in the area can help kill time. It’s also close to the Mexican border, for those crossing for dental work.

All and all.. this was an ‘ok’ stop for us.. and had we not been so busy on some projects that needed concentrated time, we likely would not have stayed as long as we did.  This isn’t one we’ll be anxious to return to.

    • Local Area

      Local Area

      Stats of our Stay:

      • Days Stayed: 8 (February 8-12)
      • Cost of Stay: $8 dump fee afterwards
    • GPS Location: 32.831616, -114.805644
    • Nearest City: Yuma proper is about 10-15 miles away, close enough to run in for errands – but not so close as to be convenient. There’s a couple truck stops closer by with convenience stores for some things.
    • Owned By: BLM / Mine? – Depends on where exactly you stay, and the land isn’t marked.
    • Cost: Free
    • Stay Limits: 14-day (for BLM land) or none (with Mine company permission)
    • Closest Dump Station: Just a couple miles away is Gold Rock Ranch RV, that offers use of their dump station for $15, or with Passport America you can stay overnight for just $20. There’s also a Pilot fuel station with an RV dump off I-10 with an access fee. (We stayed at Gold Rock Ranch before our stay, and then dumped at a station on the way into our next stop.)
Geocaching the 'Presidential Series' around Ogilby/American Girl Mine Road.

Geocaching the ‘Presidential Series’ around Ogilby/American Girl Mine Road.

  • Internet Access: Both Verizon and AT&T LTE worked great here.
  • Additional Tips: No trash nearby, so plan to pack it out. Water in the area is simply awful, plan to at least have bottled RO drinking water – which you can purchase at many water stations around town.

More Information on this Area:

Our posts from Yuma:

Back to Yuma: Zephyr Comes Full Circle

Other posts:

WheelingIt’s Review of the Ogilby Road Boondocking Area

Campendium Reviews

E) Ajo, AZ – Darby Well Road

Our spot off Darby Well Rd.

Our spot off Darby Well Rd.

The Ajo / Why area of Arizona was one of the spots we wanted to check out, and when we learned friends were there already – we headed that way without much further research. And wow. This one, won our hearts.

Darby Well Road is just a bit south of town of Ajo (which is south of Gila Bend), and is a well maintained dirt road with several boondocking locations around. There’s pull outs along the way, and a campground-like loop just before the ‘Y’. Several said that there’s not any good options beyond the Y.. but we disagree.. we scouted out several awesome options that would just require a bit of patience to get into.

Our friends were in a spot not too far down Darby Well, overlooking the wash.. and it was delightful. We loved the town of Ajo too and visited the mine museum and did the scenic loop drive. It’s also about 40 minutes down to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument – well worth visiting.

This one, we’ll come back to.. definitely.

    • Local Area

      Local Area

      Stats of our Stay:

      • Days Stayed: 12 (February 13-24)
      • Cost of Stay: $15 campground stay afterwards
    • GPS Location: 32.348260, -112.830679
    • Nearest City: Ajo is just about 2 miles north of this boondocking area, and has all the basics. A well stocked combo grocery store & hardware, a couple restaurants, a post office and a cute downtown.
    • Owned By: BLM
    • Cost: Free
    • Stay Limits: 14-day (we only saw one BLM ranger during our stay.. not sure how strongly it’s enforced)
Overlooking our boondocking spot from above.

Overlooking our boondocking spot from above.

  • Closest Dump Station: There are a couple RV Parks in town that have dump stations, and several in Gila Bend as well.We dumped at a Chevron station on our way in from Yuma, and dumped afterwards at a Passport America stay in Arizona City.
  • Internet Access: Verizon LTE was usable with our booster (pretty unusable without). For better signal go further down Darby Well to get closer and within line of site to the tower. AT&T was off network 3G in the entire area (meaning they reserve the right to cut you off after 20mb of usage – use sparingly! We seemed to get away with using a couple hundred MB without problem).
  • Additional Tips: There’s a refuse station outside of town where you can dump trash for a small fee. For smaller bags of trash, the grocery store has lots of garbage cans in the parking lot. Water in the area is also not great, so plan to have bottled RO water – available at fill stations in town. Plan to watch ‘Night of the Lepus’ while here.. it’s a hoot!

More Information on this Area:

Our posts from Yuma:

By the Wrath of Killer Bunnies – Ajo’s Name Shall Be Erased from Your Vocabulary

Other posts:

Campendium Reviews

Our solar rocked the house!

Our solar rocked the house!

And there you go.. our 2015 winter boondocking overview.

Our new solar installation worked fabulously, and we managed to get through the entire season without needing our generator once. Aside from 2 nights in commercial campgrounds (ie. ‘sleeping at the dump station’) – we were completely electrically independent on our solar while feeling abundant. Chris has a couple posts lined up sharing data we collected during these past months.

We got sucked into longer stays at each of these locations between loving them, and needing lots of intense focused time on our various projects (ya know, we wrote a book, updated a mobile app and launched a major new RV club during this time).

Some of the other spots that had been on our radar to check out included: Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, Buckeye Hills Regional Park, Mittry Lake Wildlife Area and Painted Rock Petroglyphs. And of course, there’s the entire northern part of Arizona we didn’t even get to touch this season.

One thing we know for sure.. we loved our first winter in the southwest, and will definitely return for more!

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14 Comments - Still Plenty of Room for Yours!

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  1. I spent a couple lovely days at Painted Rock Petroglyphs Site. I highly recommend it, although it wasn’t a free site – at least not where I was.
    Thanks for all you do to make RVing an easier experience. I just bought your US Public Lands app. I look forward to using it as soon as I am done with the repair work. Do you have an ap for that?

  2. This was fun to read! I’m happy to say we’ve been to a few of them. As you know we stayed off of Palm Canyon Road 20 miles south of Quartzsite and LOVED the solitude plus great cell service. Not a bad option if you want to visit Quartzsite but stay away from the crowds!

  3. Great round-up. Many of these spots relive our time together which was wonderful indeed. I so enjoyed sharing these with you both.


    • Thanks for adding it to the database.. it’s a great location. Of course, if it’s crowded next time we try to camp there.. we have only ourselves to blame for sharing it. But… I just can’t resist sharing.

  4. Wife just retired and we are going to make the long trip from Texas to the Pacific either this year or next. Would love to spend some winter time southern Arizona and California. Thanks for all the great ideas.

  5. Nice to see this roundup of the winter’s boondocking sites. Kinda brings back a few smiles recalling some of the posts from you and Wheelingit while in the same areas over the season. Great fun. 🙂

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