Quartzsite is in Western Arizona . It is in La Paz County. The town is located in the Mohave Desert at the junction of Interstate 10 and U.S. Highway 95, near the Colorado River.
The Kofa and Plomosa Mountains are on the town’s eastern and southern edge. Phoenix is 125 miles to the east, Parker 35 miles to the northwest, Yuma 80 miles to the south and Blythe/Colorado River is 20 miles to the west. Quartzsite is sometimes referred to as “A Rockhounder’s Paradise.” This town is a magnet to those interested in rocks, gems and minerals, along with those wanting to escape the winter’s cold. Today Quartzsite has a population of 2,000, but this number dramatically increases to nearly a million during the winter season. The town sits at an elevation of 880 feet. The southwest desert climate has a winter low temperature of 35 degrees and a summer high temperature of 110 degrees. The town is a winter haven for rockhounds and RV’ers. Visitors appreciate the sunshine and quiet living Quartzsite affords.
Quartzsite offers several attractions. The Tyson’s Well Stage Stop Museum is housed in the original adobe building constructed in 1856. The adobe stage station was built by Charles Tyson and was the catalyst in the establishment of Quartzsite. The museum has numerous pieces of mining equipment on display, along with interesting photographs and information about the town’s colorful history. Visitors should check ahead for days and hours of the museum. The pyramid-shaped Hi Jolly Monument symbolizes a unique piece of Arizona history. Hadji Ali was an Arab camel driver, who took part in an experiment. In the 1850’s, the U.S. War Department decided to conduct an experiment using camels as beasts of burden in the Arizona desert. The experiment failed but the memory of Hadji, known by many as “Hi Jolly,” still remains. The monument is located on the west side of town. The Bouse Fisherman Intaglio or geoglyph can be found along Plomosa Road near Bouse. The geoglyph is a large figure created by Indians long ago. It is believed that individuals removed the dark desert pavement stones and dug into the lighter colored soil to make the geoglyph. The figure is an enormous human shape with outstretched arms. The story that revolves around the human shape says that the God, Kumastamo shoved a spear into the ground to make the Colorado River flow. An interpretive sign and plaque mark the intaglio. Visitors are asked to take care when visiting the site. You can get to the intaglio by taking State Highway 95 north out of town, until you get to the turn off for Plomosa Road. Take Plomosa Road northeast for about 5 miles, you will need to be on the lookout for a parking lot on the north side of road. Then follow the trail to the site.
There are numerous outdoor activities near Quartzsite. The Kofa National Wildlife Refuge is the home of bighorn sheep. The Kofa Mountains hold a tight gorge, called Palm Canyon. This canyon has Arizona ’s only stand of native palms. The hike to the palms is steep, but well worth it. The Imperial National Wildlife Refuge stretches 31 miles along the Colorado River. It is great for fishing, bird watching, canoeing and boating, but please check where these activities are permitted.
Hobby Craft and Gem Show January
Annual Pow Wow
Festival in the Desert February
The town of Picture Rock was one of the first in the area. It was located just south of where Quartzsite is today. Unfortunately, the town was flooded.
In 1856, Charles Tyson constructed an adobe building and named it Fort Tyson. The fort was needed to protect the settlers from attacking Indians.
Later, it was called Tyson Well Station. The stage stop was a way station, along the California/Arizonaline. It was the perfect spot to water and graze horses in route. Miners and freighters also used the station, after leaving the Colorado River port town of Ehrenburg. The Tyson Well Station post office was in operation from 1893 to 1895.
Then town’s population dropped. The railroad reached Yuma and cross state travel diminished. But that didn’t shut down the town completely. The Ingersoll Mill began stamp-milling gold from white quartz found nearby and the town began again.
In 1896, not far from Tyson Well, the town wanted to reestablish a post office. Due to postal regulations prohibiting the reusing of a name, the name Quartzsite was chosen. The name was created from the word “quartz” found in the area. However, the “s” in the word “Quartzsite” was added due to a spelling error.
Quartzsite was incorporated in 1989. Tourism is the major economic factor in town. There are over 70 different mobile home and trailer parks in and around the area. These parks fill to capacity during the fall and winter months. People are drawn to town because of the numerous gem, mineral and swap meet shows spread out from October through March. It is estimated that nearly a million visitors flock to Quartzsite each year.
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