Quartzsite, Arizona “The Rock Capital of the World”

by Judy Moss

This past January on our trip south we decided to revisit Quartzsite. We had happened on the place 15 years ago by chance and decided we needed to see if things were how we remembered them.
Quartzsite is located 17 miles from the California border at the intersection of Highway 95 and I-10 in the Arizona desert. This region is a unique geological area known for it rocks, gems and minerals. Placer gold mining has been done in the nearby mountains since the 1860’s. Each year this rural town grows, as thousands of snowbirds come to the area to check out the wares of various artisans and vendors. You know you are getting close to town when you notice hundreds of RV’s parked in the desert for miles on both sides of town.

Angela and Grant Bailey joined us for a day as they are frequent visitors to Quartzsite and know the place well. We were mainly interested in the rocks for sale and there are many to see from all over the world. We started the day at a store selling mainly beads, rocks and everything you would need to make and display jewellery. We then wandered over to the vendors selling rocks, mineral specimens and slabs. We checked out the parking lot for small bits of rock that had fallen off the vendors vehicles and found many bits of tumble rock that we can use for our grab bags at the Cobble Hill Fair. Nothing like rockhounding in a parking lot.
We spent the next few hours checking out all of the rocks. Grant and Angela had brought slabs of Vancouver Island Rock with them which they used to barter for different rocks and slabs. We always want rock that we can’t find at home right? We met and chatted to some very interesting rockhounds, some even from Canada. After a food truck lunch Grant took us on a tour of town to show us the highlights. We said goodbye to the Baileys and spent the evening at our RV park in town. There are over 60 RV Parks and 11,000 acres of BLM Long Term Visitor Area camping, or five 14 day free camping areas in and around Quartzsite so no excuse for not finding a place to spend the night. We did phone a few days ahead to book a space in a RV Park as we didn’t want to stay out in the desert.
John and I spent another day wandering around looking at all that was available. We seemed to walk for miles. The big RV show was on at the time we were there and it was amazing to see all the latest gear for RV’s.
We were glad that we had made the effort to go back to Quartzsite. It is an amazing experience especially for a Rockhound.