What destination attracts more than 1 million recreation vehicle owners to the desert like lemmings to the sea? Quartzsite, Ariz.

Farm Forum reported that they go for the endless flea markets, gem and crafts fairs, the Big Tent RV show, mild temperatures, dazzling mountain vistas, and cheap rent.

Over the past four decades, Quartzsite — a former gold mining town in the Mohave Desert — has evolved into the unofficial RV snowbird capital of the southwest. It sits at the crossroads of Interstate 10 and U.S. 95, about 125 miles west of Phoenix and 17 miles east of the Colorado River.

During the winter months Quartzsite, with a little over 3,000 souls, swells temporarily to the third largest city in Arizona when tens of thousands of RVers roll into the area and camp at local RV parks or in adjacent Bureau of Land Management long-term visitor areas.

“People around town estimate there are about one million winter visitors,” said Kym Scott, president of Tyson Wells Enterprises. “The surge of RVers is a very welcomed sight because snowbirds account for 80% of the town’s business.”

Scott calculates that during January, more than 300,000 visitors shop the 860 stalls at the Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama. Shoppers can find jewelry, gems, tools, animal hides, clothing, furniture, art, crafts, antiques, and an amazing diversity of rocks and minerals at bargain prices.

According to Farm Forum, another major draw each year is the Big Tent Quartzsite Sports, Vacation and RV Show that takes place each January. The RV show, billed as “the largest gathering of its kind in the world,” showcases hundreds of recreation vehicles, features more than 300 RV-related vendors, and boasts an estimated 150,000 potential buyers.

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