Quartzsite seems to be a Mecca for many RVers. Years ago nearly 2 million people (many of them RVers) would flock to Quartzsite for the winter months. We’ve been told that that number has dwindled to a mere quarter of a million in recent years. There are lots of rock/gem shows and swap meets in the winter when the town really comes alive.
In January and February the town is wall to wall RVs…which is easy to tell with the amount of RV parks up and down the roads. Although not everyone stays in the RV parks many RVers choose to ‘boondock’ in the desert where small towns of campers seem to pop up over night.
Since the ‘boom’ hasn’t hit yet we decided now would be a good time to actually check out the area. When the ‘boom’ hits I can only image chaos in the dessert….not really my kind of thing.
There’s not a whole lot to see and do but I did find several Roadside America stops to make and it’s a good thing there wasn’t much to do as temps were up near 100 degrees….not much to our liking.
Celia’s Rainbow Garden – Celia was a miracle baby…born at just 23 1/4 weeks she thrived and grew into a beautiful full little girl. At age 8/12 she contracted a viral infection and passed away. Her parents got permission to create a botanical garden in her memory.
The garden has grown into a memorial for all kinds of loved ones…although many don’t seem to be children. Some ‘plots’ are just a simple marker, others are much larger with colorful rocks made into a picture.
We are assuming that the garden is a little more ‘lively’ in the winter when the RVers are here to maintain it since right now it could use a little TLC. It seems that many of the memorials were made by RVers and not by locals.
Before leaving Celia’s Garden we noticed a large number of quail roaming about….must be a fairly popular area for them as I saw several other references to them while in town. They were kinda camera shy and wouldn’t stay in one place for very long but I was able to get a fairly decent picture of 5 of them as they scuddled off.
Naked Bookstore Owner – Reader’s Oasis Bookstore Owner, Paul Winer, is the father of Celia (see above) and also a man of few…clothes. A budding nudist, Paul prefers to go without clothes but does don a knit sock to cover ‘things’. He’s a super friendly man and encourages picture taking so Michael made sure to take a picture of me with Paul.
As we browsed his shop…books, games, puzzles, cds, videos, etc…there was some background music playing and both Michael and I really enjoyed listening to it while checking out Paul’s wares (pun intended!). Paul ended up telling Michael that the music was actually he and his band. It was great! So great that we ended up leaving with a copy of the CD (autographed by Paul and his guitar player). We also brought home a couple of small puzzles and a video.
Freedom Garden Fighter Jets – Just down the street from Celia’s Rainbow Garden at the intersection of Quail Street and Plymouth Road. A pair of F-4 Fighter Jets makes up the Freedom Garden. There’s not explanation or signage to explain where the jets came from…a little information would be great.
Wheel Rim Camel – Located at ‘Gem World’ and stationed outside the entrance this red camel is supposed to be a tribute to ‘Hi Jolly’, the Syrian-born camel driver hired by the US Army to lead supply camels across the desert in the 1800s.
Hi-Jolly’s Tomb – When camels didn’t make the cut into the military Hi Jolly moved to the Quartzsite area and tried his hand at mining. He lived in Quartzsite until his death in 1903. The people of Quarzsite were so fond of him that, after he died, they spent several weeks building Hi Jolly a special pyramid tomb, made of multicolored petrified wood and quartz.
RV Park Metal Sculptures – One of the many RV Parks in town has several metal sculptures created by the owner. Tall cactus and palm trees made from horseshoes and other parts replace real trees that the park seems to be lacking.
There are other sculptures here and there as well…bicycles, fish, cowboys…even a very large whale! As we left the almost empty park (most parks around are pretty barren) I noticed a sign by the whale that said ‘$2.00 per family’….oops! Sorry!
After our Roadside America excursion we drove south on AZ-95 a few miles as Michael wanted to check out one of the BLM camping areas that people boondock in. You can get a permit to camp in this area and they cost $180 for up to 7 months (long term) or $40 for up to 14 days (short term).
We drove through La Posa West which seemed to go on for miles and miles and there was pretty much nothing more than sand, some shrubs and occasionally a tree. There were a few campers scattered here and there and it was hard to visualize the place being as packed as we hear it gets. We both decided it wasn’t really our ‘cup of tea’ although if you were set up with solar panels and whatnot you could save quite a bit of money hang out there for the winter.