Key Takeaways

  • Skooliepalooza is an annual event celebrating the nomadic lifestyle.
  • It is an “Ungathering” that allows the visitors to direct the programs.  
  • There are always big changes happening, so follow them on their Facebook!

If you’re new to the nomadic lifestyle, you probably don’t know what Skooliepalooza is. Let’s take a look at what it is, and how you can join in.

Skooliepalooza is a festival for people living life on the road. It is a celebration of the nomadic lifestyle. If you want to share your experiences and learn new tips and tricks, then this is the place to be. All are welcome, not just those living in a Skoolie.

After watching the movie “Nomadland”, I became interested in this lifestyle. In the film, the main character, Fern, visits Skooliepalooza. That started my trip down the rabbit hole and ignited my dream to one day live as a digital nomad.



What Is a Skoolie

A Skoolie is an old school bus that has been transformed into a home. You can think of them as the original tiny home, and they aren’t just for hippies anymore.

A Skoolie can be as basic or as fancy as you want it to be. Some owners bought their buses already renovated with all the bells and whistles; however, some owners put their own buses together using as many recycled goods as possible.

For many in the Skoolie community, upcycling is all important. Upcycling just means recycling with a purpose. You try not to get anything new unless you have to. Everything comes from something that would have been thrown away - like an old school bus.

What Is Skooliepalooza

Skooliepalooza is a festival dedicated to the nomadic lifestyle. Although it gets its name from the Skoolie, everyone is welcome no matter what vehicle you drive.

It’s a gathering of people already living in portable homes, and people who are interested in the lifestyle and want to learn more. The motto according to the official website is:

  • Be Nice
  • Leave No Trace
  • Pay It Forward

This week-long event is family-friendly and community-driven. It is a time when the nomadic community can get together and share tips, tricks, and experiences. There is even a lot of socializing going on with movie nights, guided hikes, and more.

The Colorful History of Skooliepalooza

Like with any organization made up of people, this festival has had its share of drama. We will start where it all began - the Arizona desert in 2017.

The First Skooliepalooza

The very first festival was held in Quartzsite. A small Arizona town of about 2,500 people. Who started it, and what happened since that first year, depends on who you ask.

Some say that the event was first thought of by Don “Dredman” Redman on It is said that while he thought up the event where everyone could socialize and learn from each other, his bus broke down, so he never made it to the first one.

If you go to the official site, it is stated that Nick and Russ were the original organizers. How all these people fit together, and what their exact roles were is unknown to the general public.


From 2019 to 2020, the festival happened every year as planned. What started as 22 Skoolies in 2017 ended up as more than 144 tiny homes in 2019. As it grew in popularity, people in all types of vehicles began arriving.

In 2020, Nick and Russ trademarked the name “Skooliepalooza”. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, there was a pause in events in 2021.

The Great Migration of 2022

In 2022, a change of venue was proposed, and Nick and Russ decided to hold that year’s events in California. Attendees met at Big River, Ca. on a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) site.

Unfortunately, in this location, a permit is required to hold any large functions. Since they did not have a permit, rangers for the BLM rangers shut down the festival.

This led to a trek across the desert back to Quartzsite so the festival could continue. According to the Skooliepalooza website, the caravan was record-breaking with over 500 skoolies, vans, and RVs.

After the Skooliepalooza Great Migration

After the mix-up of 2022, Nick and Russ brought in some event managers to help them keep their event running smoothly. According to the official site, problems began after this.

From the site, there was some sort of drama that occurred in 2022. This led to a splintering of the group, people being banned from the event, and eventually, Nick and Russ felt unwelcomed and stepped away from the project.

After scouring websites and forums, I am unable to find the reason for the change of ownership and bad blood. The Skoolie Way is now organizing and running the event.

2023 and Beyond

Even with all of the changes, the 2023 event had a massive 300 buses and 511 other vehicles. Skoolepalooza is branching out from the original festival into smaller events called Ungatherings that are hosted around the country.

The 2023 event took place in January, and there are no other events on the official site. If you go to the Skoolies subreddit, it looks like there will be some changes to the festival in the future, but more events are being planned. Stay tuned for future dates.

What Is an Ungathering

Ungathering is a name to celebrate all the nomadic hippies and anarchists worldwide. It is a non-event where the participants lead the festival. Attendees volunteer to give speeches, demonstrations, and anything else they feel benefits the community.

What Can You Expect at Skooliepalooza

This festival is a family-friendly event that is like one big party. You can expect speeches and demonstrations to help you live the nomadic lifestyle. Some attendees will be selling food, crafts, and other items.

The time not attending these events will be spent sitting around campfires sharing stories and experiences. There are outdoor movies and stargazing events. People are encouraged to join the events that interest them.

The owners of the event pride the festival on being an organic event that is community driven. Each person's experience is what they make of it.

In the past, Skooliepalooza was a free event and no amenities were provided. There were no toilets, electricity, or running water. For this reason, the festival was free.

Due to the popularity of the event, it has grown to a size that needs more organization. Also, it is getting harder to run the event on public land without a permit.

In the future, the festival will be held on land that has amenities. The organizers will need to purchase permits and hire staff. Because of this, future events will have a fee. There is talk of a free event still taking place in addition to the new paid one.

How to Attend Skooliepalooza

To attend Skooliepalooza, you need to register for the event. If you are willing to volunteer or conduct lectures or demonstrations, then they need you! Their Facebook page is updated more than their website, so go here to get the latest information.

While registration isn’t open for 2024 events, the Facebook is active. They state planning is in progress. If you are interested in attending, follow them there or bookmark

Safety Tips for A Perfect Festival Trip

According to previous festival goers, as the number of participants has risen, so have some undesirable elements. Please follow these tips so you and those around you can have a fun, safe event!

  • Keep your valuables locked up and out of sight.
  • Always lock your bus and other vehicles if you leave your site.
  • Keep your dog leashed and clean up after it.
  • Don’t leave anything behind. Haul out all your trash.


Anthony Day

Anthony Day

Hi, my name is Anthony, and RVs are what I'm passionate about. I bought my first RV when I was 21, and I've been hooked ever since. I'll guide you on how they work, how they can be used in different environments, and how they fit into our everyday lives.

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