Quartzsite is 125 miles west of Phoenix at the junction
of Interstate 10 and U.S. 95, near the Colorado River. The
community has a Mohave Desert setting 879 feet above sea
level. The nearby Kofa, New Water and Plomosa Mountains pro-vide
topographic relief while the Colorado River lies only 17
miles to the west. Quartzsite incorporated in 1989.
Quartzsite was established in 1867 on the site of old Fort Tyson,
a privately built structure constructed in 1856 by Charles Tyson
for protection against Indian raids. Named Quartzite because
quartz was occasionally found in the area, the name evolved to
Quartzsite through an error in spelling.
Tourism is the major contributor to Quartzsite's economy. The
retail trade and services sectors benefit from the visitors who
reside at the numerous (more than 70) mobile home and trailer
parks in the vicinity between October and March. Beginning in
October, nine major gem, mineral, and 15 general swap meeting
shows are popular tourist attractions. The Bureau of Land
Management and law enforcement agencies estimate more
than 1.5 million people attend these events.
Quartzsite's four largest employers are Ted's Truck Center and
Bull Pen Restaurant with 50 employees; Love’s Truck/Auto
Center with 50; Pilot Truck Center, Dairy Queen and Subway
Restaurant with 40; McDonald's with 20 permanent and 20 seasonal;
the Town of Quartzsite with 37 ;and Burger King/Mobil
with 25 permanent and 30 seasonal.
A rock hunter's paradise surrounds Quartzsite. Agates, limonite
cubes, gold, and quartz are especially good “finds”–but they are
only a few of the many different types around. In town, the Hi
Jolly Monument is a reminder of an unusual pioneer experiment:
it honors the Arab camel driver, Hadji Ali, who took part in an
unsuccessful 1850’s U.S. War Department attempt to use camels
as beasts of burden in the Arizona desert.
Southward, off U.S. 95, rise the Kofa Mountains. Historic and
scenic areas include the Spanish Wall, Crystal Hill, Tyson Tanks,
Tyson Wells Museum and the Hi Jolly Monument. South in the
Kofa Mountains is Palm Canyon, a tight gorge and home of
Arizona's only native palms, reached by a steep but rewarding
climb. Farther south is Castle Dome Peak at an elevation of
Only 17 miles west, the Colorado River offers visitors a variety of
water sports ranging from fishing to speedboat racing.
Campgrounds, mobile home parks and other overnight accommodations
are available along the river and in the Quartzsite