Just as some people are drawn to the mountains or oceanside, some are drawn to the mysticism and remote landscape of the desert. And for those who consider themselves to be, in a sense, nomads, there's often no better place than somewhere warm, isolated, and away from the hustle and bustle of cities. Living a nomadic existence doesn't necessarily mean lonely, however - especially not in Quartzsite, Arizona. This unusual town has a population that's less than 4,000, but it's one that ebbs and flows with all those who make their way through it, whether temporarily or semi-permanently.
After gaining even more recognition due to its landscape, which was used as one of the settings for the movie Nomadland, many curiosities have been piqued regarding this small town. Often, it's the quirkiest of towns that end up on our bucket lists, and it's also those which often provide the adventure of a lifetime. If that's what you're seeking from Quartzsite, then you might just find it... but start by adding these things to your itinerary.
Annual Mineral Show And Swap-Meets
If the line about rocks and minerals from AMC's Breaking Bad stuck with you, then the Annual Mineral Show and Swap-Meets might just be the destination you're looking for. Between January and February, Quartzsite holds a rocks and minerals showcase that features plenty of each, from vendors around the world.
Any number of vendors can be found here, from artisan jewelers to crafters who utilized gems, minerals, crystals, and stones to their full potential. It truly is an awesome thing to walk around and explore and even if you're not in the market for a new crystal, you might just find yourself drawn to something.
Tomb Of Hi Jolly
The history of Hi Jolly and who he was is a big part of Quartzsite, which is why visiting his tomb is such a big deal. Hi Jolly - whose name was actually Hadji Ali - was a Syrian immigrant hired by the American government to do a very specific job.
Hi Jolly was responsible for introducing camels to the southwest deserts and while the plan was eventually thrown away, Hi Jolly made his home in the humble town of Quartzsite. He was beloved by many in the town and gained a wonderful reputation while he was there, thus his final resting place remains in the town, with a plaque to commemorate his great spirit.
Tyson Wash is not far from Quartzsite and it's worth the short side trip to see the Grinding Holes. Here, visitors can find petroglyphs left behind by the Native Americans who once called the area their home, which has been presumed to tell the story of Native American creation.
Along with these petroglyphs, visitors will be able to find grinding holes that were used in a similar manner that a mortar and pestle would be today. Things such as corn and various seeds were ground in these holes, which eventually wore down the rocks in unique ways.
Celia's Rainbow Garden
The story behind Celia's Garden is a sad one, as it originally started as a small, humble garden in memory of a little girl who once lived in Quartzsite. It was planted shortly after Celia passed away in 1996 and since then, people have continued adding to it and it has now grown into an eight-acre attraction.
The garden now sits in memoriam of every soul that has passed away in or around Quartzsite, featuring smaller gardens, cacti, rocks, and even a small replica village. The garden is free to view and walk through and is well worth a visit.
Palm Canyon is a beautiful place to visit, in general, but it's really the palm trees that set it off. Many people are surprised to see that these perfectly healthy palm trees have not only taken up residence in the desert but also seem to be thriving there.
The canyon itself is not challenging to find and it's a nice walk on a cool day, especially if you're intrigued by palm trees growing in the desert (and in a canyon!).
Historical Society Museum
Quartzsite was once known as a mining and early pioneering town, and the Quartzsite Historical Society Museum goes into full detail about this aspect of the town's history.
It's here that visitors can gain a whole new appreciation for this small town, complete with exhibits and tidbits that help to round out the backstory of this quirky Arizona destination.
Reader's Oasis Books
If you fancy finding a book or two, there's no better place to do it than at Reader's Oasis Books.
Believe it or not, this bookstore is home to tens of thousands of books, according to The Crazy Tourist, and even some that have been autographed by famous visitors stopping through town. The owner of this bookstore is also quite eccentric, so it's an all-around good book-browsing time.