Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Sites to See in and Around Quartzsite

There is a lot of history in this area, from the pioneers and settlers who came here and settled into the town that is now Quartzsite; to prospectors and ranchers, whose descendants still live in the town. Many of the old buildings in town are on private property and aren’t accessible due to their deteriorated conditions, but you can still see them from the roads. 

Some places are open to the public; many are accessible by driving and hiking.


   Housed in Charles Tyson’s restored former stage stop, this museum displays mining equipment and houses the old assay office from the Mariquita Mine. The museum also exhibits photographs and personal possessions of some of Quartzsite’s most colorful residents. It is located next to Silly Al’s Pizza on Main Street. A restored stagecoach station operated by the Quartzsite Historical Society. Exhibits relate Quartzsite, its citizens, and locals mines. Collections date from the 1860s and include artifacts, mining equipment, a miniature village, and photographs and personal papers. 

   The Quartzsite Historical Society opened Tyson’s Well Museum in February 1980, after extensive restoration work. The original structurally sound walls were retained and others were rebuilt. A shell of stabilized adobe brick was built around the original walls to protect them. Artifacts were gathered from interested citizens, as well as photographs and old mining equipment. When the building was finished, these articles were placed inside as well as outside the building. The dirt floor in one of the rooms was maintained for authenticity. The ceiling of the main room consists of saguaro ribs, and the original fireplace is still in use during the winter. Outside in the yard is the original assay shack from the Mariquita Mine, which offers a peek into the everyday life of the miners. Also, in the yard is the handiwork of Walter Barrett, a little village of cement and stone houses built during his retirement and donated to the museum. Just to the west of the Museum are the ruins of the Oasis Hotel, which is our next restoration project, with fundraising currently underway.  See:


   Located at the north end of Quartzsite Town Park on Plymouth Rd. This 20 acre section is a beautiful nature trail with several special areas along the trails. It includes a miniature pioneer village, a mining display, rock and gem pavilion, veterans’ area, and much more. It’s a work in progress started by Paul & Joanne Winer, the parents of Celia Anne Winer, an 8-year old who died in 1994. The volunteer project has become one of the most visited parts of the area. Be sure to take your camera to capture your own memories of the flora and fauna while walking the trails. 


If trees could talk... Would they paint a portrait of Arizona’s climate, inhabitants and events? Would they be an impartial witness and tell it like they saw it? Arizona’s rich history has been witnessed by many, but none so enduring as these living specimens. Some planted by pioneers for specific purposes, some happened upon and used throughout the years for what we Arizonans needed at various times throughout statehood. They are a living legacy enjoyed and utilized by Arizona’s inhabitants and now honored for their service. 

This Witness Trees was dedicated as part of Arizona’s Centennial, verified to have witnessed Arizona’s statehood form February 14, 1912, to February 14, 2012. 

This ironwood tree resides in the town of Quartzsite. It is in remarkable condition for its age - 1,050 years old, as determined by the La Paz County University of Arizona Extension office- probably due to its location close to a wash. It is viewable by a trail outside of the Town Hall, north of the water tank. It has witnessed the ages from the same location and recently in its history has become accustomed to the yearly winter population boom of Quartzsite, located along Interstate 10 next to the Arizona/California border. Ironwoods are known for their dense timber, as limbs from these trees do not float.  


  The Bouse Fisherman is an Intaglio also known as a geoglyph or earth figure. These very large earth figures were created many years ago by American Indians. The fisherman was first spotted in 1932 on the desert floor when George Palmer, a pilot, saw an enormous human figure with outstretched hands. In 1984, the Colorado River Indian Tribes sponsored a flight which led to a second discovery of the Bouse Fisherman. Bouse residents and others collected money and installed posts and a cable fence around the site. A bronze plaque was set into a stone pillar to commemorate the site hoping for preservation for all. 

The area north of Quartzsite was used as a training ground for General Patton's troops during World War II. You can see rocks laid out in the desert for airplanes to see, spelling out QUARTZSITE and forming an arrow pointing the way. 

Both the Rock Alignment and Fisherman Intaglio are a short walk from the asphalt road.

   To get there - North out of Quartzsite on Highway 95 for 5.4 miles, then turn right on Plomosa Road. 6 miles up the road look for fences on your left. 6 miles up the road look for fences on your left. Inside the farthest fence you will find the Rock Alignment and 1.3 miles farther up the road you come to a second “scenic view parking” sign. Park and follow path up the hill to see the Intaglios.


On the east side of Tyson Wash, a short distance south of Quartzsite, you can see Indian grinding holes and some faint petroglyphs. There is also a natural tank near the cliff which may have water if it has rained recently. This is also the site of the original Quartzsite which was washed away in a flood and subsequently rebuilt on higher ground at its present location. It is said that a safe full of gold lies buried beneath the sand at the bottom of Tyson Wash somewhere near this spot, carried away in the great flood.

How do you arrive there? You just head South along highway 95, and you will make a right turn into the BLM visitor Area. Go left down the main road. You turn right at the BLM road 358. Park right before Tyson Wash and glance for the petroglyphs on an outcrop that is rocky where an individual has done some mining. Across from the wash, on the other opposite cliff, you will see caves and grinding holes where the Indians lived before.


   For 57 miles, US 95 cuts through the desert of Southwest Arizona - quite flat, perfectly straight and aligned exactly north-south, and interrupted only by the small town of Quartzsite. In the mild seasons of winter and early spring, much traffic uses the road, bringing sun seekers from all over the US to Yuma and on into Mexico, but few travel to this region in summer, when temperatures of over 120o are not uncommon. Rain falls on only a few occasions each year - the summer thunderstorms that affect the higher areas of Arizona rarely extend this far. South of Interstate 10, US 95 is bordered by the Yuma Proving Ground to the west and the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge to the east - a protected area 25 x 40 miles in extent with no paved roads or facilities of any kind. The refuge is an excellent place for viewing desert plants and wildlife, rock climbing, exploring old mines, or just camping in remote wilderness.


  An area of rugged beauty, Palm Canyon may be the only place in Arizona where native palm trees, California Fan Palms, can be found. tucked away in narrow, rugged canyons on the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. People were aware of the small, scattered clusters of trees growing in Palm Canyon even before the creation of the refuge. The palm trees have become a major visitor attraction for the refuge. To get there - Drive South on Highway 95 for 23 miles then turn left into the Kofa Wildlife Refuge for approximately 7 miles on the dirt road until it ends. 


   There are hundred of Petroglyphs here. You will also find the remains of an old stone cabin and an arrastre. Look along the base of the cliff to the left of the stone cabin for the cave where the spring originates. Once you’ve found it, listen and you will hear it dripping from the cave roof, forming a year round pool of water. A path takes off to the left of the cave, following the edge of the cliff where more petroglyphs can be seen. 

   Dripping springs is one mile down the road from Dos Picachos Mine. The road is steep and rutted. This is a trip for a 4-wheeled drive vehicle.


38 miles north of Wenden, Alamo Lake offers excellent bass, bluegill and catfish. The Arizona State Park can be accessed by a paved road from Highway 60 at the Wenden turn-off to the north on Alamo Lake Road.

 Owing to its remoteness the park is often considered one of the “best kept secrets” of the state park system.  Alamo Lake State Park features camping facilities and attracts wildlife enthusiasts, as the park is home to numerous wildlife species including the bald eagle. The park’s remoteness and distance from cities also makes it a destination for stargazing. 


Cibola National Wildlife Refuge is located in the flood plain of the lower Colorado River and surrounded by a fringe of desert ridges and washes. The refuge encompasses both the historic Colorado River channel as well as a channelized portion constructed in the late 1960’s. Along with these main water bodies, several important backwaters are home to many wildlife species that reside in this portion of the Sonoran Desert. Because of the river’s life sustaining water, wildlife here survives in an environment that reaches 120 degrees in the summer and receives an average of only 2 inches of rain per year. We invite you to visit and enjoy the many wildlife-oriented activities the refuge has to offer and enjoy the scenic beauty of this oasis in the desert. 

  Getting There from Blythe, CA: Drive approximately 3 miles west on I-10 to Neighbors Boulevard/78 exit. Travel south on Neighbors for 12 miles to the Cibola Bridge. After crossing the bridge, continue south for 3.5 miles to headquarters.


The Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge weekly tour is now available Thursdays 8am-10am, September through May. The tour includes the Visitor Center exhibits, Peninsula and Delta Trails, and will focus on the Refuge’s habitat types and the plants and animals that use them.  Sturdy shoes or boots are recommended; and be sure to bring water, binoculars, sun screen and a hat to help make this an enjoyable experience!

  Located in a transition zone between the Mojave and Sonoran deserts, the Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge has a unique ecosystem that provides excellent habitat for many resident and migratory wildlife, including birds, reptiles, butterflies, mammals and amphibians, as well as a diverse array of plants. It also contains the largest remaining stand of native cottonwood and willow forests in the lower Colorado River. 

Tour Information

• Months: Sep-May

• Group Size: No limit

• Departure Times: 8am

• Length of tour: 2 hr

  The Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge protects the lower course of the Bill Williams River, to its mouth at Lake Havasu reservoir, in western Arizona. It is located within eastern La Paz and Mohave Counties, in the Lower Colorado River Valley region.

  Bill Williams Wildlife Refuge is home to over 6,000 acres of habitat, 355 species of birds, 34 documented reptiles, 40 species of butterflies, 57 species of mammals, 7 amphibians, and a plethora of indigenous wildlife. 

  Travel north of Parker 18 miles to marker 161 and turn toward the lake. For questions or more information, contact Wildlife Refuge Specialist Joey Saccomanno at 928-667-4144 ext. 128.


  The ‘Ahakhav Tribal Preserve was established in 1995 and currently consists of 1,253 acres of wilderness area and a 3.5 acre park. The preserve is centered around a reconstructed Colorado River backwater, which offers a variety of activities including fishing, canoeing, birding, and swimming. The preserve also maintains a 4.6 mile fitness trail as well as playground and picnic facilities located in the park. The preserve serves many purposes. 

   One is to provide recreational and learning opportunities to the surrounding community as well as visitors. The other is to serve as a revegetation area for endangered and threatened plants and animals native to the Lower Colorado River Basin. The Lower Colorado is an area that faces many problems, from damming that causes changes in natural stream flow, to a variety of invasive species. The preserve is an ongoing project to study methods of revegetation and restoration that may be used though out the area. For more information, please visit


This Memorial Monument marks the site of the Poston War Relocation Center where 17,867 persons of Japanese ancestry, the majority of whom were United States citizens were interned during World War II from May 1942 to November 1945. All persons of Japanese descent living on west coast farms, businesses, towns, cities, and states were forcibly evacuated by the United States military on the grounds that they posed a threat to (he national security. This massive relocation was authorized by Executive Order 9066, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942. This Memorial is dedicated to all those men, women and children who suffered countless hardships and indignities at the hands of a nation misguided by wartime hysteria, racial prejudice and fear. May it serve as a constant reminder of our past so that Americans in the future will never again be denied their Constitutional rights and may the remembrance of that experience serve to advance the evolution of the human spirit. 


58 miles south of Quartzsite on U.S. 95. Turn right on Martinez Lake Road and drive 10 miles to Red Cloud Mine Road. Follow the brown refuge signs about 3.5 miles to the visitor center. Free. 928-783-3371,

  Painted Desert Trail makes a 1.3-mile loop, following a wash, crossing a ridge and tracing another sandy wash back to the trailhead. It’s a lavishly fractured terrain, weaving among colorful mounds that look like petrified sand dunes. The walking is easy with just a short climb to the ridgeline where I soak in fine views, a mosaic of desert patterns and the wet knife of the river carving a verdant slice in the distance.