For the month of January, many members of Pasadena Lapidary Society join the ranks of rockhounds and lapidarists across the nation – and beyond – in an annual sojourn to our ‘mecca’ of rocks – Quartzsite, Arizona. While this isn’t a fieldtrip that requires a rock hammer, shovel or other tools, it’s a great opportunity to see what wonderful gems and minerals exist in our world – all in one place. There are several gem and mineral shows which are held between December and late February in this town, which swells to over a million visitors in the month of January from a paltry 3,714 +/- residents the rest of the year. One of our favorite shows to check out is the QIA Pow Wow, which takes place this year from January 19 – 23, 2022, with free admission and free parking and way more than a day’s worth of treasures to see. It’s like a giant open air swap meet held under the beautiful blue sky with giant puffy white clouds floating overhead – which sometimes open up with a quick light rain or a heavy shower – then dissipates as quickly as it starts. Quartzsite is just 18 miles east of the California border, along Interstate 10. One can make it a full day trip, or if you’re able to secure lodging in Quartzsite or Blythe, CA, turn your visit into more than one day so you can visit the other shows taking place as well, such as Tyson Wells or Desert Gardens. If you prefer to take an RV and camp, there’s plenty of open space just on the outskirts of town. How to get there? Take I-10 East until you get to Quartzsite, about a four hour drive from Pasadena when traffic isn’t bad. We often make a quick stop at Chiriaco Summit either on the way to or from AZ, where one can fuel up and stop for a bite or snacks.
Pasadena Lapidary Society member Sue Pang shared some pics she’d taken during her visit in January to the annual QIA PowWow in Quartzsite, AZ. Members who didn’t make it out there this year were certainly there in spirit, as we’re not just lapidarists; we’re ROCKHOUNDS. For those who don’t know, the QIA PowWow is a rockhound’s mega candy store.
Members of Pasadena Lapidary Society, along with most serious rockhounds, wait anxiously all year to make the 3-1/2 hour trek to Quartzsite, AZ in January. Some stay right into February, camping nearby in order to go rockhounding at their leisure, and others check in to the few motels in town or travel the 22 miles back/forth to Blythe, CA for lodging.
One of the biggest draws in Quartzsite is the QIA POWWOW, always held the third week in January. This year the POWWOW runs from January 20-24. If you’ve never been, the POWWOW is like a huge swap meet focused on gems, minerals, rocks and everything related. Admission is free and so is parking. Here’s a weblink to check it out: http://www.qiaarizona.org/.
There are other rock shows being held throughout both months, two of the most popular ones being Desert Gardens https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Event/Desert-Gardens-Rock-Gem-and-Mineral-Show-667193560050537/ from Jan. 1 to Feb. 28, and Tyson Wells https://www.tysonwells.com/. Here’s the calendar of events from the City of Quartzsite website: http://www.quartzsitecalendar.com/
Self-professed as “The Rock Capital of the World”, Quartzsite is a town in La Paz County of +/- 2,000 inhabitants that swells to a couple of million in January and February each year. Situated 125 miles west of Phoenix at the junction of Interstate 10 and U.S. Highway 95, it enjoys a close association with the Colorado River, just 18 miles to the west.