During the months of January and February, the massive
gathering of swap meets and shows in modern-day Quartzsite, Arizona, has resulted in the
making of the most incredible "market town" in America.
From 750,000 to 1 million people, mostly traveling in RVs
and fondly known as "snowbirds," flock to Quartzsite in the winter months for
camaraderie and commerce.
There are roughly a dozen ongoing events a large
percentage centered around gems, minerals and precious metals and this flat little
desert town of population 2,000 (officially) swells into a great metropolis.
It was in the 1850s that Quartzsite was settled by prospectors who mined gold in
the nearby hills, although not officially named until 1867. Some of the elements and
minerals mined in Quartzsite over the years include gold, lead, silver, copper minerals,
scheelite and manganese.
In between shopping sprees, be sure to pay a visit to the
Tyson Wells Museum, where there are historical exhibits about the area's mines, as well as
an assay office for the Mariquita Mine.
For those interested in gold, Quartzsite is surrounded by
the stuff. One of the places it can be found is at the Copperstone Gold Mine, which is
east of town along Gold Nugget Road.
Gem and mineral shows
While some shows and swap meets begin as early as November, most are going full
steam by mid-January, including Clouds Jamboree (Rocks/Gems/Minerals/Fossils), the
Prospectors Panoramas Gold Show, and the Tyson Wells Rock/Gem/Mineral Show.
In addition to shows spotlighting earthly elements, there
are also craft shows, a sports/vacation/RV show and a "sell-a-rama," featuring
the more typical "modern flea market" merchandise, such as T-shirts, sandals and