Snowbirding 2018 Postcards: RTR from the Air

I’m still in Quartzsite — I’ll be here for two more weeks — and I kept hearing about something called RTR. I knew that it was a gathering of RVers out in the desert east of Quartzsite, and I had heard from one participant that there were 3,000 RVs parked out there. Yesterday afternoon, I decided to take my drone out there for a look.

Quartzsite is surrounded by BLM land. For the most part, you can camp there for up to 14 days at a time for free. (There are some areas closer to town that provide services such as garbage dumpsters and outhouses and require a fee.) One of these free areas can be accessed by a roughly paved freeway service road that ends suddenly with a right-hand turn to the south. From there, the road is narrow and unpaved and cuts into the desert. This is the path you follow to get to the 2018 RTR campsite.

I estimate that I drove about 8 miles from town to reach an area jam-packed with RVs. The types of RVs ranged from rickety vans to costly Class A motorhomes. They were parked alongside anything that could be remotely considered a road. There were vehicles driving around — very slowly, I should add, to keep the dust down — and the campsites had plenty of people milling around. I parked my truck at a road intersection near a sign that said “No Camping Beyond this Point” and set up my drone in the bed of the pickup for launching.

I did two flights from the pickup bed. The first was a high-level flight that circled the camping area, taking video and still shots of the entire site. I was about 400 feet up for these.

This first shot is from the southeast, looking back toward Quartzsite, which you can see at the base of the mountains in the top left:

RTR Quartzsite 2018

This shot is more from the south west. You can see the road I drove in on cutting diagonally across the top right of the photo, as well as semis on the freeway off in the distance:

RTR Quartzsite 2018

For the second flight, I flew at about 150 feet — low enough to get some detail without bothering the folks on the ground. (I should emphasize here that I never flew over people — I always flew around the perimeter of the event.) Again, I took several still images and a few short video clips.

This shot was from the west of the event looking back to the east. I’d love to explore that road that winds up into the mountains.

RTR Quartzsite 2018

This shot was from a bit lower. You can see my truck in the lower right corner.

RTR Quartzsite 2018

Keep in mind that this is only one of the many areas where people are camped out in the desert here. I’ll share more photos as the place continues to fill up.

Also, please remember that these photos are copyrighted and may not be shared without permission. You may link to this page but you may not reproduce these images elsewhere. I am a commercial drone pilot with a lot invested in my equipment and training. If you want to buy any of my images for reproduction as postcards or posters, contact me.

Snowbirding 2018 Postcards: More Aerial Views of Quartzsite

I know this is getting monotonous, but I’m kind of stuck here now.

Someone who lives here asked if I was going to sell posters or postcards of Quartzsite from the air. This was a very popular item in past years and I have been thinking about it. So this morning, while sitting at my booth, I sent my Mavic up to see (1) how high I needed to be to capture a good shot of the whole area and (2) how “filled in” the desert camping areas are. The answers: (1) very high and (2) not enough yet.

Of course, I took a few photos while I was up there. This first one is from the southwest corner of the area. The big RV tent went up the other day; the area beside it will soon be full of RVs for sale and vendors living in their RVs. In this shot, I’m set up in the show area near the freeway overpass.

Just for fun on the way back, I pointed the camera straight down and centered it over the Tyson Wells Rock and Gem Show. The resulting image looks like Google Earth on steroids.

More to come.

Snowbirding 2018 Postcards: Dawn at Tyson Wells

As discussed in the previous post, I’m currently camped out at the Tyson Wells Rock and Gem Show in Quartzsite, AZ. This morning dawned perfectly clear and calm — a typical desert morning. I sent my Mavic up to take some photos. Here are two of the best.

Here’s the show area from the northeast corner. The area in the upper left will soon have an enormous tent for the RV show that starts around mid-month. That’s the show that brings in tens of thousands of RVers every January. Don’t you just love the way the mountains look in the early light?

Here’s the same area, but from the southeast. Beyond the freeway, you can see most of the town of Quartzsite. Beyond that, a lot of open desert.