Boondocker Chatter Newsletter
July 24, 2017
An Affordable Alternative to the BLM
We are the RV Hobos. We stayed at the BLM’s Imperial Dam LTVA for two seasons and loved it so much that we created the imperialdam.com website and its family of websites. The community spirit and Christian values we found at Imperial Dam reminded us of 1950s North America. The community, particularly at the Christian Service Center, gave us a reception of the like that’s hard to describe to someone who has never experienced staying at Imperial Dam. The only downside to this wonderful place is that the season is over on April 15th, disbanding the community and forcing you to move your rig to another location.
For the 2016 summer season, we stayed at the Tuttle Creek campground, one of the long-term campgrounds run by the BLM’s Bishop Field Office in California. We paid $300 for a long-term permit for a season that, at that time, lasted from the 1st Saturday in March until November 1st. From 2016 to 2017, the Bishop Field Office has raised the long-term permit fee by almost 300%, which priced some of our fellow campers out of the possibility of staying there. Although we’ve been assured by the Yuma Field office that the rates will not be as drastically increased as Bishop, the fee for an LTVA permit will be going up in the near future for Imperial Dam and Quartzsite, as well.
Our experiences with Tuttle Creek were not the best. Even at an elevation of 5000 feet, it gets very hot in the summer, well into the 100s. Also, there were many wildfires in the area during the season so not only did we have to be ready to evacuate, the wildfires contributed to the poor air quality noted in the Owens Valley. In addition, the cost of living in the area is much higher than what we were accustomed to at Imperial Dam near Yuma, AZ. Most of all, the community spirit that surrounded us at Imperial Dam was virtually non-existent at Tuttle Creek.
We decided there had to be a better place to stay long-term during the summer than the campgrounds and negative experience offered by the Bishop Field Office. After much research into long-term places to stay north of the Mexican border, we found that they were either too hot or too expensive to be practical. So we focused our research to the Pacific Coast of the Baja Peninsula. We were in search of a place where we could stay as long as we wished without being chased out by either a Ranger or the weather. Through our research we discovered the San Quintín Valley area with many campgrounds near the Pacific Ocean. The year-round temperatures compare to San Diego, CA within a few degrees making it a place where we could stay all year if we wished.
Thus began the Baja LTVA. The Baja LTVA is a group of campgrounds in the San Quintín Valley area of Baja California, Mexico. We envisioned a retirement community with the same values as Imperial Dam. For this reason, we decided to make each campground become a “member” of the Baja LTVA and therefore meet certain requirements. This guarantees that anyone staying at any Baja LTVA member campground can expect the same level of accommodations, amenities and welcome as he or she is accustomed to north of the border.
In addition, just as any campground who wishes to be a part of the Baja LTVA must adhere to certain requirements, anyone who wishes to stay at a member campground and enjoy the low rates, must become a member as well. Since we’re interested in building a community like the one at Imperial Dam, we’re only allowing people 55 or older and who have recommendations from two existing members to become members themselves. We don’t care about the age of your rig, or how much money you have, we care about the quality of your character. We have a real paradise here for retired folks and for that reason we don’t want trouble-makers or people who don’t want to be here. In fact, even though the lots are for sale, you can’t buy one until you come down here, stay a while and see if you like it and, just as importantly, see how other neighbors like you.
Although we do not intend to become “regulation-nation” like California, we find the rules set forth by the BLM to be what we call plain, old common sense and so have adopted most of those for the Baja LTVA. The Baja LTVA reserves the right to revoke the membership of any camper or participating campground for not using common sense and common courtesy in the campground.
Despite what you might hear in the “media”, our personal experience is that the locals welcome our presence. Bringing long-term visitors to the area benefits the local economy. Having a beautiful, affordable place to stay year-round benefits American and Canadian retirees. It’s a wonderful thing when everyone benefits and works toward a common goal and is, we think, reminiscent of the 1950s values we spoke of and specifically, the Imperial Dam community spirit.
The Baja LTVA is currently offering 60 LTVA sites between two campgrounds with 4 full-hookup sites available, more as needed. All sites have beach access. Note that unlike Imperial Dam, propane and water are delivered right to your site. Like many land owners in Mexico, the camp owners are land-rich and cash-poor. As part of their agreement to be a member campground, the camp owners will reinvest a percentage of the money received by campers into camp improvements like roads, showers and a laundromat. This money is held in escrow by the Baja LTVA. In this way, LTVAers are helping “their” community grow and improve. A win-win.
Like any beach area, there’s plenty to do. There are many areas for a “Jaws Jaunt”. Kite surfing is very popular here. There are terrific fishing opportunities. You can fish from shore for free, no permit required. Permits are only required if you fish from your boat. Boat launches can be found 15 miles away from the campgrounds. Beachcombers can dig for clams and find crabs along the beach. Or just put your lounge chair out and enjoy a good book.
Road conditions are good with some potholes near towns. Be sure to watch out for speed bumps when entering any town. The only dangerous road hazards we found are impatient southern California drivers. If you drive down with a slow and easy attitude and let the impatient drivers pass you, you’ll have a pleasant, scenic trip.
Although we had originally planned for the Baja LTVA to be ready for the 2018 summer season (March 15 – September 15, permits will be $300 for the season), any one interested in becoming a member and coming down this summer to check out the area will be given two weeks free in either of the member campgrounds to make absolutely sure the Baja LTVA is right for you. The campgrounds currently have water, septic and Internet available. We’re also looking into affordable TV options with Sky, Dish and DirecTV, since over-the-air reception down here will get you Spanish-speaking stations only.
While the bajaltva.com website is under construction, send us an email if you’re interested in a fantastic 2-week vacation by the beach to: firstname.lastname@example.org.