Saving BIG on Gas
While most of you know about the high gas prices in California, you probably will get as blown away as we did when you encounter the over double the national average gas prices charged on California’s Eastern border, peaking on the Colorado River. While many states were enjoying under $2.00 gas prices, our last fill up in Needles California was $4.o9+ per gallon, due to what the gas station owner stated were additional taxes imposed by what can only be called a socialistic state.
You can bet we made the decision to cross into Arizona for the rest of our journey here. We filled up for $2.29 per gallon at Quartzsite, and then in Yuma at the “high-priced” Chevron station for $2.15 per gallon.
So when you Google for directions to get here, we recommend you take any route outside of California unless you want to make a donation to California’s policies. We came here from just south of Tahoe. If it had not been for a winter snow storm, we would have come through Nevada to Arizona. We travel with a small motor home and small box van (our garage). Our cost of gas was $504.02. If we had not been forced to a California Route, our costs would have been about $325. That’s $179.02 extra to support Governor “Moon Beam”. To put that in perspective, that is $0.98 cents shy of what an entire 7 months rent is here on the desert.
If you do have to come from Western California, fill up before you start heading into the high desert. Beware of what to expect when you start getting close to the Colorado River. We made the mistake of not filling up in Ludlow, CA at $3.79 per gallon as we thought it was a rip off, and ended up paying $4.09 in Needles, CA.
Boondocking on the way down
Unless you want to spend more on the RV parks getting down here than an entire 7 month stay at the Imperial Dam LTVA, you may want to do some boondocking on the way down.
We generally stay at Federal Parks when we take trips. This is a luxury that is not available when you are traveling to a destination like Imperial Dam. We spent the first night at a commercial RV park in Madera, CA. We would give the park a “C” rating, nothing fancy. We never used the “full hookups”, but did fill up with water and dump in the sewer. We also had a great shower. For this we laid out $35. As we have spent thousands on our Solar System, which includes hot water panels, this seemed kind of like throwing money away. At least to people from our generation.
Here are a few tips on making boondocking as good as an RV park, and keeping safe.
- Look for rest areas when planning your trip.
- See if some of them offer a dump station and/or potable water. Use them and fill up with water whenever you can.
- When you pull in, look for a place to park near the facilities but away from the trucks, which come and go all night.
- Look for Walmart’s that welcome RVs overnight, also a good time to get supplies.
- Investigate large parking areas used by truckers at which RVs are also located (we did in Vidal, CA).
You should take the time to plan your boondocking stops as if you were choosing the campgrounds you would be staying at. You should never boondock at isolated areas. If you plan your trip, stay at safe places, close enough to the truckers, but far enough so their comings and goings won’t keep you awake. A good solar, MiFi and heating system are also a requirement for us Seniors, and a DVD or TV is pretty valuable too!
Once you get close
Once you’ve used Google Maps to find the best route to get to the Imperial Dam LTVA, hopefully considering the information above on gas prices and boondocking, the following should be helpful.
- Finding the entrance:
- If you are coming in via Route 95, keep your eyes open for the signs to the Yuma Proving Grounds. Less obvious are the signs (near the YPG signs) to the Imperial Dam LTVA. It really doesn’t matter as you will take the same road. You will pass through the Yuma Proving Grounds to get to the Imperial Dam LTVA campgrounds and registration area. Follow the road until you get to the Senator Wash Road and take a right. Follow Senator Wash about 2.5 miles until you get to Mesa Road (there will be a sign for the turnoff) and turn left. You will see the water stations, dumpsters and dump stations on the left. Past those, on the left, is the Contact Station where you can register.
- If you are coming from the 8 Freeway, take the 4th Ave exit and head north on 4th (toward Winterhaven) until you get to the stop sign. Make a right onto Picacho Road (S24). Follow S24, about 20 miles, until you reach Senator Wash Road and make a left on to it. Follow Senator Wash about 2.5 miles until you get to Mesa Road (there will be a sign for the turnoff) and turn left. You will see the water stations, dumpsters and dump stations on the left. Past those, on the left, is the Contact Station where you can register.
- Supplies & Gas: Head into Yuma if you need supplies, including a top-off of propane and gasoline.
- Cash for Registration: You will need ca$h if you decide to register, so if you need to, while in Yuma, this is a good time to visit an ATM or Bank.
- Finding a campsite (with cell service): Don’t take it for granted you will be getting cell service at all of the campsites. Without expensive gear, Verizon is the only available service. You will need to check your phones signal meter to find a suitable spot if cell/MiFi service is important to you.
- Getting a CB Radio: If you want fast emergency assistance and/or want to keep track of local events and contact others out of cell range, you will want to purchase a decent CB radio and a long range antenna then monitor channel 12.
Registration & Cash
If you decide to register here at the contact station, you can pay with cash or check (US funds). So if you’re staying for the season, that’s $180, or if it’s for two weeks, bring $40.