A Rockhound's Paradise
Location / Description
Quartzsite is located in western Arizona, just 20 miles east of the Colorado River on I-10. It's been a rockhound's paradise since the 1960s. These days, it's also a mecca to well over a million visitors each year, most of whom converge on this small town in a wave of RVs during the months of January and February.
At this time of the year, 2,000 vendors of rocks, gems, minerals, fossils and everything else imaginable create one of the world's largest open air flea markets in Quartzsite. Eight major gem and mineral shows as well as vendors of raw and handcrafted merchandise peddle their wares to snowbirds, collectors and enthusiasts, making Quartzsite the place to be the first two months of each year.
Population / Elevation
Quartzsite 1,900 people / 876 feet above sea level
Weather / Climate
Quartzsite has a classic low desert climate with extremely low relative humidity and very high summer temperatures. On the average, it receives less than 4 inches of precipitation a year. Stores, shops, restaurants, theaters and homes are air-conditioned year round in Quartzsite. June, July, August and September temperature are in the 100 plus area.
In 1856, settler Charles Tyson built a fort at the present site of Quartzsite to protect his water supply from attacks by Native Americans. Fort Tyson soon became a stopover on the Ehrenburg-to-Prescott stagecoach route, eventually becoming known as Tyson's Wells. After the stage stopped running, it became a ghost town.
A small mining boom revitalized the town and it became known as Quartzsite in 1897. It remained a mining town until 1965, when the Pow Wow Rock, Gem & Mineral Show initiated the rockhound winter migration to Quartzsite each year. These days, the population can swell to almost a million during January and February as rockhounders, jewelers and vendors, mostly in thousands of RVs, attend the eight major gem and mineral shows.
Shows and Events
2016 - 2017
Quartzsite Market Place Street Fair
Oct. 31, 2016 - March 1, 2017
Tyson Wells Market Center Swap Meet
Oct 01, 2016 -March 31, 2017
Rice Ranch “Yawl Come” Show
November 1, 2016 - April 1, 2017
Grease Wood Swap Meet
November 2016 - April, 2017
Desert Gardens - Gem & Mineral
January 01 - February 28, 2017
January 02 - January 15, 2017
Annual Hi Jolly Daze Parade - Town Park
New Christy Minstrels - QIA 2 pm & 7 pm
January 14, 2017
QIA Pow Wow - Gems, minerals & jewelry
January 18 - January 22, 2017
Tyson Wells Rock & Gem Show
January 06 - January 15, 2017
Tyson Wells Sell-A-Rama
January 20 - January 29, 2017
Sports, Vacation & RV Show (The Big Tent)
January 21 - January 29, 2017
Tyson Wells Arts and Crafts
February 03 - February 12, 2017
Gold, Treasure & Craft Show - QIA 9 am - 5 pm
February 10 - 12, 2017
Quartzsite Quilt Show - Quartzsite SR Center
February 3 - 4, 2017
Quartzsite Gold Show
February 10-12, 2017 QIA building. Friday - Saturday 9-4 Sunday.
Side Trips For Rockhounds
Bradshaw Trail also known as the Gold Road to La Paz, is located in California's southeastern Riverside County. The trail was created in 1862 by William Bradshaw, and was the first trail that crossed the Riverside County desert all the way to the Colorado River. In 1863 it became a well-traveled overland stage route. Originating in San Bernardino, the trail was used to haul miners and other passengers to the gold fields at La Paz, Arizona (now Ehrenberg). More...
Hauser Geode Beds Take the Wiley's Well Road exit from Interstate 10 and continue driving south to the graded dirt road just past the state prison. You will pass Wiley's Well campground (9 miles south of I-10), and Coon Hollow campground (12 miles south of I-10). You will see a dirt road on the right with a marker indicating the route to the Hauser Geode Beds. (This is also the Imperial and Riverside county border.) More...
Opal Hill Mine now called the Kaylee Mae Gem Mine is actively producing fire agate, and rock hounders still frequent the mine for its gem-quality stones. The mine is privately owned but open to the public for a small donation. With some hard work and effort, almost everyone leaves Opal Hill satisfied with the fiery agate they take with them. More...
Tumco/Hedges Ghost Town Driving Interstate 8 east of El Centro, California, after you pass through the Imperial Sand Hills, you can see off to the left a small group of mountains that appear dark brown. These mountains are known as the Cargo Muchacho Mountains. More...
Camping & RV Parks
There are camping and a plethora of RV accommodations in and around Quartzsite. For more information, contact:
- Quartzsite Chamber & Tourism
1240 W. Main
Quartzsite, Arizona 85346
- Arizona State Parks 602-542-4174
- Arizona National Forests 800-280-CAMP
Cities & Towns
- Ehrenburg, Arizona: 17 miles west.
- Blythe, California: 25 miles west.
- Parker, Arizona: 35 miles north.
- Yuma, Arizona: 83 miles south.
- Wickenburg, Arizona: 111 miles northeast.
- Phoenix, Arizona: 125 miles east.
Parks & Monuments
- Joshua Tree National Park: 94 miles west.
- Riverside County river parks: 25 miles west.
- Buckskin Mountain Colorado River Park: 47 miles north.
- Lake Havasu State Park: 57 miles north.
- Alamo Lake State Park: 71 miles northeast.
Recreation & Wilderness Areas
- Kofa National Wildlife Refuge: 5 miles south.
- Cibola National Wildlife Refuge: 40 miles south.
- Imperial National Wildlife Refuge: 50 miles south.
Historic & Points of Interest
- Hi Jolly Memorial: 5 miles east.
- General Patton Memorial Museum: 86 miles west.
- Living Desert Reserve (Palm Desert)
- Imperial Sand Dunes
- Parker Dam: 50 miles north.
- Lake Havasu: 50 miles north
- Gold Road to La Paz: An Interpretive Guide to the Bradshaw Trail
- Other DesertUSA Resources
Gem Trails of Southern California Book
Related Books & Gifts - Trading Post
Riding Over Gold on Your ATV in Ocotillo Wells
Desert Rocks, Minerals & Geology Index
Desert Survival Primer
Desert Survival Kit
Desert Survival: The Solar Still
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