Tuesday – November 18, 2014
South Mesa BLM
We awoke to a chilly morning with the temperature in the middle forties at the Quartzsite BLM Short-Term camping area. We had a very tasty breakfast at the Times Restaurant in Quartzsite before departing there at 9:30 a.m.
Arizona and southern California have a sizeable portion of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) federal desert lands. They also receive a large number of long-term RV visitors during the winter months. This combination has created a unique type of camping in the region.
Southwest Arizona and southeast California have campgrounds designated as Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVA). These are large areas: some with facilities and some with no facilities.
LTVAs operate from September 15 to April 15 each year. During that time you can stay in one location without moving or you can move to another LTVA. The fee is either $40 for 14 consecutive days or $180 for the September 15 to April 15 period.
Camping on other BLM land is known as dispersed camping. The BLM lets you camp on any BLM lands as long as it isn’t posted against camping. There are absolutely no facilities, you must pack in and pack out everything. This type of camping is usually free, but there is one major caveat: you can only camp in one area for 14 days out of any 28-day period. Once your 14 days are up you must move to another site that is at least 25 miles distant.
A few miles south of Quartzsite, we stopped at a BLM office to purchase the $180 LTVA permit. Since this is our first time spending the winter months in Arizona, we wanted to make sure we camped in BLM areas that had facilities. Since we will be camping on BLM land from November 18 through April 15, our daily camping cost averages out to $1.21 per day. Not bad at all!
While traveling south on U.S. 95 in Arizona, all traffic on the northbound side, at milepost 76, is diverted off the highway through a border patrol checkpoint. We have seen these checkpoints before while traveling through New Mexico last year.
We arrived at the Imperial Dam LTVA, South Mesa Camping Area at 11:45 a.m. This LTVA is actually just a few miles west of the Colorado River, residing in California and 20 miles north of Yuma, Arizona.
The South Mesa Camping Area is an immense desert area. There are no trees for shade, sonora catus and sage brush dominate the landscape, with mountains surrounding the area. RVs are dispersed throughout the area. Some of them are grouped together, but the majority of them are off by themselves. We chose a remote area that affords us plenty of privacy.
The South Mesa Camping Area provides potable water, restroom facilities with flush toilets, trash dumpsters and a dump station. There are fee-based shower facilities available down the road at another BLM camping area. The showers cost $1.25 for five minutes and $1.75 for eight minutes.
Camping Fee: $180.00 per season: September 15 through April 15.
Campsite: Any open area within the BLM
Total miles traveled today: 77
South on U.S. Highway 95
West on Imperial Dam Road
West on Senator Wash Road to South Mesa LTVA
Tomorrow another adventure begins.