Yuma, AZ Has Grown On Me

Another great sunset in Yuma
Another great sunset in Yuma
C-20130117 Sunset Yuma (19) (JPG)
Doggie in silhouette

It’s time to wrap-up our time here in Yuma so we can make it to the big show in Quartzsite. This is our second trip to this area and I have to admit it’s grown on us. Yuma is, in many ways, an odd kinda town…it’s a rather featureless valley that’s a huge snowbird destination, mostly for its costs and southern location. When you drive through town you see packs & packs of RV parks (many 55-and over) with RVers mashed together surrounded by flat desert, a spattering of flat farmland and somewhat nondescript strip-malls. At least that was the impression I had first time I came through here.

Who’d want to winter in Yuma….really?

Taggart enjoys some afternoon warmth
Taggart enjoys some afternoon warmth

But if you take a bit of time to look around, you realize there’s more to it than  meets the eye, and believe it or not it starts with nature. Once you get down to it Yuma has tons of open space around town for exploration. In the west there are the impressive Imperial Sand Dunes and the rich gold history by the Muchacho Mountains. In the north you have large wildlife refuges (the Imperial Wildlife Refuge and the enormous and rarely visited KOFA Wildlife Refuge), and in the east the landscape opens to pretty foothills and some excellent hiking (for more trails check out this PDF download too). Add onto that some pretty decent golf courses and a bike path along the Colorado River and you’ve got quite the diversity of outdoor choices.

Hmmm…this place ain’t looking so bad after all.

Oh yeah, that's my kinda fiery heaven
Oh yeah, that’s my kinda fiery heaven
Yeah, this is the life!
Yeah, this is the life!

And then there’s the boondocking….ahhhh….the boondocking. This is really what clinches it for me. I don’t think I would enjoy staying in one of the big RV parks in town, but once you get out into the wilderness it’s a whole other story. The area around here doesn’t have nearly the scenic beauty of some of our other favorite spots, but there’s so much space that you can easily find a secluded spot to spend those perfect winter days all by your nature lonesome. And when the winter weather does what it’s supposed to (which means a nice sunny mid-70’s during the daytime) and the wind isn’t being crazy (which it does get out here) it’s simply the most relaxing place. Walk the hills in your flip flops, bike around and explore the dirt roads in your shorts and then knock back in a chair with an appropriately adult beverage to watch an eternal horizon of fiery sunset.

Oh yeeees….I can see the draw now.

Boondocking w/ buddies. That's us, Alex&Ellen (behind) and Watson's Wonder in the far background
Boondocking w/ buddies. That’s us, Alex&Ellen (behind) and Watson’s Wonder in the far left background

And finally there are the quirky little things that make Yuma…well Yuma. Things you didn’t even remotely expect and that might even save you some dough:

American Gold Mine just west of Yuma
American Gold Mine just west of Yuma
Crazy Los Algodones...I love it!
Crazy Los Algodones…I love it!
  • Inexpensive dentistry just around the corner in Los Algodones. What a deal!
  • The cheapest place (in the US?) to get your rig washed and hand-waxed. Can you say ~$40 for a wash and ~$130 for wash/wax of a 40-footer!!
  • The salad Capitol of the US (~90% of all leafy veggies in winter for the entire country are grown here) with no less than 3 weekly farmer’s markets (here, here and here).Who would’ve thunk?

Ok…you had me at hello.

When we first came here we never thought we’d come back. Then we came back anyway, then friends came to join us (The Lowes, Alex&Ellen, OhThePlacesTheyGo, Watson’s Wonder all came by to visit…plus RV SueIvan&His Kitty, & Metamorphosis Road have blown thro’ this joint in the past week!) and then we were hooked. Yuma has grown on us and we’ve decided we’re probably going to come back every year. I mean with so much going on, who wouldn’t want to winter here…really?

My great new smile!
My great new smile!

Update On My Los Algondones Dentist Appt 1/21: I got my new crown installed yesterday morning and I am over the moon. This crown is 100% better fit than my old one (which always felt too big & awkward in my mouth), feels perfect and looks great. Dr. Urena did an outstanding job making sure the fit and look was just right. She even sent out the crown for some re-work in the AM to re-file the inner side and improve the fit. No-one can tell which tooth is the crown unless I point it out. We’ll see how this holds up, but for the moment I am very, very happy with the results!

An evening fire at our boondocking site
An evening fire at our site

Playtime in the desert!
Playtime in the desert!

Gold in the hills
Gold in the hills

Gold in the sky
Gold in the sky
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do

  1. says

    Nice… sounds like you two are having a blast.. we are still in the planning stages, but living in our “Koko” full time now.. just working the details out on the permanent road trip… Erick and Lynda

    • libertatemamo says

      Oh excellent! Sounds like you guys have started the journey and are already well on the way. Good travels to ya!

  2. says

    We left Yuma a month or so ago and were pleasantly surprised by the area. It wasn’t at all the dusty and sleepy small town we first expected. Instead we found plenty to do, including a pretty great hot air balloon festival, hiking, a decent little historic downtown, and a bunch of great farmers markets where we procured some of the best melon we ever had.

    • libertatemamo says

      Yeah, I have to admit my viewpoint of the place has turned around 360 degrees. GREAT produce in that town and some really neat hidden gems to discover.

  3. Susie says

    Yuma is one of the places we want to check out when we retire.
    I have a question. We plan to visit there when it is HOT weather. We have a cat and were wondering what you do when gone for the day and your cat is left alone in the RV? If you are boondocking you can’t run the air conditioner all day right?

    • libertatemamo says

      If you’re here in summer I would *definitely* recommend getting a full hookup site in an RV park (preferably with some shade if you can swing it). Boondocking is simply not practical in summer, and especially not so if you have a pet. Even with hookups what I’d do is make sure you have temp set and run the aircon all day. You may even want to look at a remote temperature monitor of some sort and/or an auto-generator start in case the power goes out. There should be plenty of space in summer in the parks so I’m sure you can find a good one w/ a decent rate.

      • Susie says

        Thanks for your reply. We hope to have solar but don’t know if we will afford something like that. My husband reminded me that we won’t be there in the actual summer season but it will be December through March so I guess that won’t be so bad.
        Will take your advice though and if we are going to be in hot temps to stay at an RV park and consider auto generator.
        Thanks a bunch,

        • libertatemamo says

          December thro’ March is actually the PERFECT time to visit. Temps should be very moderate and boondocking should be no problem, especially the first few months. Starting March it will warm up.

  4. says

    We will head to Quartzsite this Friday staying till Tuesday! I love it! One of my favorite places to go AND I start my Christmas shopping early! I love that we get to visit with friends that we only see once a year! Plus we get to do a bit of off roading!

    • libertatemamo says

      Oh excellent! Looks like we’ll be here at the same time. If you’re interested in coming by this week-end let me know. We’re at Dome Rock west.

  5. rwkrecklow says

    Even though Yuma may have grown on you, I humbly request that you put it back so we can enjoy it later on when we go down there. Thanks.

  6. Deb says

    Looks like fun times in Yuma this year. I was much like that with Quartzsite last year, but now we haven’t made it out this year, missing it. Where in the world did you find a wash for $40 and wash & wax for $130… We need that place – lol. Have safe travels and keep pumping out awesome post.

    • libertatemamo says

      There are lots of ads in the White Sheets paper or Magic Ads Paper located outside the doors of most stores, but if you’re looking for some specific names I saw the following recommended on a couple of forums:
      – Roberts Mobile RV Wash: (928) 919-4881
      – Beto’s Mobile Washing: 928-304-0803
      – Yuma Mobile wash: http://www.gauto.com/b_info.aspx?id=872
      Most of the mobile washers come w/ their own mobile RO water since the local water in Yuma is quite hard and will leave spots.

  7. says

    Waved to you as we went by on our way to Walter’s Camp on Friday for a three day river trip. Parked at Kofa Crystal Hill now for the rest of the week. The 6.5 miles of gravel was worth it for the limited number of people here.

    • libertatemamo says

      What a fabulous spot! As we were driving up the 95 we actually saw some of the rigs parked waaaay back there in the KOFA Wildlife Refuge and we both agreed we gotta come back and do some boondocking there. It looks remote and wonderful!

  8. Nancy says

    I stumbled upon your blog last year while looking for pictures at S Llano River SP in TX (my favorite SP in TX!). I am only a tentcamper but I love to read your blog – it gives me ideas of places I’d like to see. Unfortunately I am a solo camper most of the time and am afraid your ‘boondocking’ might not work so well for me.

    Keep taking pictures


    • libertatemamo says

      Hi Nancy,
      Great to have you as a follower on the blog! I love the fact that I get both RVers and tent campers on here. As for boondocking solo, I know it’s a bit scary but we actually meet plenty of folks (incl. women) who do it. RV Sue (in my links) is one of them and she boondocks almost 100% of her time. This morning I met another solo woman in a truck camper down the hill from us here in Quartzsite. It’s not for everyone, I know, but if you ever decide to try it there’s plenty of others out there who are doing it too.

  9. says

    Nina, you always find the “wonderful” in EVERY place you go. I just love that about you! What a fantastic way to go through life. Mike and I are always looking at our travel plans to see when we may cross paths with you and Paul because we would love to meet you in person. And we just came soooooo close. We were in Quartzsite this weekend (where we found a few items that we determined that we couldn’t live without). Currently in Tombstone on our way to Florida. We’re still dealing with our boat situation. Ahh, well, I’m confident that someday we will meet you. As always, love the blog! –Linda

    • libertatemamo says

      Would very much love to meet you too. Seems you’re going pretty rapidly East so perhaps not this winter, but who knows…maybe next winter? Hope your boat situation gets sorted out soon.

  10. says

    I liked hanging outside of Yuma. Like you said, a lot of diversity around, loved the farmers markets for fresh food and the town has everything else you need.

    • libertatemamo says

      I’m coming by this morning to meet the Danes On Tour and will be by later in the week for a happy hour (our neighbors want to come and meet ya’ll too).

  11. says

    We definitely need to return to Yuma. There are so many areas that need exploring. I wished we had planned more time there.

    New tooth look great!

    Once again, beautiful photos!

    Where are you headed after Q? Maybe Tucson? Hans and Lisa arrive here Friday.

  12. says

    We wintered in Yuma twice and believe it is the most RV friendly town in America. There are 2 great flea markets where you can find lots of RV stuff probably cheaper than at Q. We also used Algodonez for dental quite successfully. Several RV parts outlets complete the mix. The only downside we found was the ground water is almost too salty to drink (and will clog up your water heater), and of course the wind. We will be back. I almost forgot tuesday nite bingo at Country Roads RV Park with $700 blackouts.

    • libertatemamo says

      Oh how neat that they have flea markets w/ RV stuff. I didn’t even get to see those!! Yet another reason to come back!

  13. says

    We have a soft spot in our heart’s for Yuma – as that’s where our great train adventure lead us to finding our Zephyr (our 1961 bus conversion). Of course, it was 120+ degrees there in June and pretty darn miserable. Hardly another RVer there either. We totally need to get back there in more reasonable temperatures and check it out.

    • libertatemamo says

      You know I remember your whole buying process in 120 degree heat, but totally forgot it all happened in Yuma…how cool!

  14. says

    We did not have a very good opinion of Yuma either, I must admit. We will definitely have to give it a second look after what I have been reading from you and other bloggers. Thanks Nina.

    • libertatemamo says

      Yeah, that’s an area I’ve heard ALOT about but didn’t really get the chance to check out. Seems there is alot of nice hiking out that way too.

  15. Dave says

    You have my curiosity about Yuma now too!!

    Will you guys be going near Sierra Vista/St David/Bisbee/Tombstone or Patagonia at all? Coming into the best two months of the year in Arizona and especially Southeastern Arizona, except for as you say that darn wind.

  16. says

    Yuma’s kind of funny that way. We started coming here about 15 years ago because it was the warmest winter place we could find. We stayed out at Senator’s Wash but we drove into town almost every day.

    So then we rented an RV lot in the Foothills–and we kept coming back.

    I’ve always had this weird ambivalence about Yuma, but yet…as you said it kind of grows on you. They say after you’ve come here for 3 winters, you end up buying a piece of property–so watch out!

    We actually did that–have bought and sold 3 or 4 different places, and now have a home here, even though we left to live in Mexico for a couple of years.

    Now we have “hitch itch FEVER” and are in the process of changing the type of RV we have (long story about all that!)…deciding whether to sell the house or “summer time it” as you mentioned in one of your posts.

    Cuz baby, you have not LIVED until you have been in Yuma for an entire summer. Yowza, it is not be believed until you experience it for yourself!

    So we definitely want to be off to cooler climes in the summer, no matter what–but we are thinking about going back to full timing. I guess if you’ve got that wandering spirit, it’s just super hard to shake. I really cannot imagine living in one place all my life–and right now we are feeling a tad (a LOT) anchored down.

    I had a travel blog which I am embarrassed to admit I have let slumber for six years (how DID that happen??) but I’m planning to resurrect it once we get our new RV plans in place.

    I wasn’t very diligent about it–and there’s a long story about what happened with our “dream RV”–but you may find it kind of ironic that we too did a stint as lighthouse hosts on the Oregon coast–and the very first brief post back in 2004 was about coming back to Yuma!

    You can take a peek–it’s kinda puny right now but you might find
    some things of interest about places we’ve been.


    The URL was all about our love of boondocking–which we still want to do in a much bigger way.

    So forward we go…Onward and UPward.

  17. says

    P.S. Yes, do check out the Foothills! That’s where we are–good access to hiking, off road exploring with 4WD, wide, flat streets for walking and riding your bike…and the most awesome, clear, starry nights within range of civilization. LOVE the night sky here–if you are ever stuck here in the summertime, the great Foothills reward is you can actually see the Milky Way–it’s that dark out here.

  18. says

    We too love Yuma, and Los Algodones, camping in Imperial Dunes, but did not get that far west this year, first time in seven years, but will be back enjoying the area, the BLM lands and Quartzsite.
    Also love the HotSprings at the Holtville BLM, just awesome, have you been there yet?


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