Today, Quartzsite is best known as a haven for RV snowbirds. But, the history of this tiny town in the Arizona desert goes back to gold prospecting. In 1863, it was called Tyson Wells. Back then, it served as a desert watering hole and stagecoach stop.
Ranching was the mainstay of the area, but small gold claims were also producing wealth. However, large-scale mining operations failed.
Today, most people visit Quartzsite to enjoy the wonderful winter weather with their snowbird friends. But, some break away from the barbecues and campfires to prospect gold.
Get out your metal detector and saddle up your side-by-side and let’s go prospecting around Quartzsite!
Gold Prospecting Around Quartzsite AZ
First of all, you’ll need the right equipment to prospect for gold, and that includes a high-end metal detector like the Minelab Gold Monster 1000, Garrett, or the Fischer Labs Gold Bug. The difference between this type of metal detector and a less expensive one is that it can differentiate between ferrous (iron) and non-ferrous metals. That means you won’t waste your time digging up nails or old cans. It also is waterproof and has a high/low gold chance indicator.
Next, you’ll need the usual shovel, prospecting pickaxe, buckets, etc to dig up your findings. A pair of gardening gloves is also recommended.
Finally, you’ll either need to be able to hike packing all of your equipment, or you’ll need an off-road vehicle. An ATV or a side-by-side is ideal. However, you could get to some areas with a Jeep or a 4×4 truck.
Before you go, also familiarize yourself with how to recognize a gold-bearing area. Likely areas around Quartzsite where nuggets can be found include:
- Iron-stained quartz rocks and quartz veins
- Moderate to flat sloping areas
- Rock fault zones
- Old tailing piles
- Dry washes
This is just cursory, you really need to study up on the subject before you start prospecting. Here is a link to a USGS pdf on gold deposits near Quartzsite, Arizona with a map of the area.
The Dome Rock Mountains & Middle Camp
Just west of town is Middle Camp; this is a great place to explore the dry washes with your metal detector. Most of the historic mining took place around here.
Trek into Marquitta Pass up Middle Camp Mountain to explore the dry washes north of I-10. The area has been heavily worked, but there’s still a chance to strike it rich. You may have to dig into the crevices between the rocks to dislodge any nuggets you find.
A few miles west of Middle Camp exploring the areas east of the Colorado River along the western slopes of the Dome Rock Mountains. However, much of the area north of I-10 is on the Colorado River Indian Tribe reservation. You’ll need to get tribal permission or risk a serious infraction.
La Cholla Mountain
Any gold you find here is generally associated with fine quartz veins that need to be crushed to extract the gold. However, there is a chance you could find a nugget. The dry washes are worth searching with a metal detector.
The area beginning near the post office and going east up into the Plomosa Mountains has been extensively mined. Today, the area south of Interstate 10 is a good place to look for gold. Definitely explore both Plomosa Wash and Italian Wash for nuggets.
As the name suggests, there was once a mine along this road. This is also an excellent area to explore, and it is also an RV camping area; but he warned, the road is rough.
Be sure to do your own in-depth research both into the area, as well as prospecting techniques. You might strike it rich while snowbirding at Quartzsite!