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Spotlight: Quartzsite

Wheel and deal in this bustling desert bazaar

On the surface, the small footprint community of Quartzsite is just another sleepy western Arizona town that’s nestled in the vast expanses of the sprawling Sonoran Desert. Home to less than 4,000 permanent residents and sitting 128 miles west of Phoenix, it offers a modest selection of amenities, heaping doses of down-to-earth charm and easy access to nearby natural attractions, including the Colorado River just 18 miles to the west.

But in winter, however, something incredible happens—the population swells from just fewer than 4,000 to upwards of one million, as visitors from around the world descend on the town for eight major gem and mineral trade shows.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto


The tradition dates back to 1965 and now encompasses eight major trade shows, including the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation and RV Show and the Tyson Wells Rock and Gem Show. Running in January and February, these events draw thousands of vendors and hundreds of thousands of visitors to town for one of the world’s largest open-air flea markets. Tables and tents full of not only rare rocks and gems but also everything from camping gear and RV equipment to hand-made leather jackets and custom-made furniture make this a bargain hunter’s dream.

The Sports, Vacation and RV Show is particularly popular. Billed as “the largest gathering of RVers in the world,” visitors will find every conceivable piece of equipment, upgrade or RV contraption they can think of here.

Quartzsite’s Wild Side

January and February aren’t the only times of year to visit Quartzsite. The surrounding Sonoran landscape is a giant playground for outdoor recreation, with a bevy of dedicated hiking, biking and ATV trails.

The town is also near Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Imperial National Wildlife Refuge and Palm Canyon.

To the north of Quartzsite, hikers can explore an area once used by General George S. Patton as a training ground for his U.S. Army troops during World War II.

For More Information

Quartzsite Business Chamber of Commerce
Arizona Office of Tourism