Quartzsite

Things to do together in Quartzsite and nearby Brenda, Arizona

Come for the RV show, stay for the wildlife and desert activities

trees, river, blue sky
The Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge lies near Brenda, Arizona. — Photo courtesy Carolyn Freedman

Alamo Lake

Nestled in the Bill Williams River valley approximately 60 miles northeast of Brenda, Alamo Lake State Park offers playful opportunities for outdoor fun, including some of the best bass fishing in the western United States and out-of-this-world stargazing.

The park boasts good wildlife-viewing opportunities amid the mountains, brush, wildflowers and cacti. From sunrise to sunset, you and your sweetie can enjoy sightings of bald and golden eagles, waterfowl, foxes, coyotes, mule deer and wild burros.

The beauty of the park is literally reflected in the crystal clear Alamo Lake, which was created in 1968 with the construction of the Alamo Dam on the Bill Williams River at the spot where the Big Sandy River meets the Santa Maria. The flood-control method created the lake and a veritable fisherman’s haven; it is stocked with a great quantity of largemouth bass as well as channel catfish, bluegill and black crappie. For licensed anglers, fishing tournaments and derbies are common.

After taking in a full day of recreational opportunities and lakeside relaxation, turn your eyes upwards to the sky. Alamo Lake is a “One Star at a Time” award winner and an official Global Star Park Network park. With the nearest city lights 40 miles away, a night of stargazing here will leave you feeling like you and your sweetheart are in a world all your own.

An RV-friendly park, Alamo Lake has a visitors centre, a store and nearly 100 campsites, 19 of which are full hookup sites.

Bouse Fisherman Intaglio

One of more than 600 Native American ground drawings discovered throughout the southwest, the Bouse Fisherman Intaglio is a cultural cache for couples up to the challenge of finding it.

Created by Native Americans many years ago by carving away the darker top layer of rock in the moonscape desert to reveal a lighter sand and subsurface, the Bouse Fisherman has withstood the test of time to tell a story about the spiritual beliefs of the indigenous people.

The artful earthen figure depicts a human shape suspending a spear, with two fish below and a sun and serpent above. The story behind the design is that the god Kumastamo shoved a spear into the ground to create the Colorado River flow.

While some intaglio or geoglyphs that have been found along the river from Nevada to the Gulf of California are over 170 feet in length, the Bouse Fisherman is relatively small and can only be found by first standing on the dirt road that leads to it.

To get to the dirt road, take Highway 95 north and turn off at Plomosa Road. The intaglio is along Plomosa Road near Bouse and is fenced with an interpretive sign and a bronze plaque set in a stone pillar.

A total of 14 geoglyphs have been recorded in the area.

Cibola Wildlife Refuge

If birds of a feather flock together, couples who consider themselves snowbirds should make the 66-mile trip to the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge. Located in the flood plain of the Lower Colorado River, the refuge remains a true oasis for migratory birds through the green belt of the Colorado River and provides crucial stopover habitat for birds making their thousand-mile journey through the area. Thanks to the refuge’s management of invasive vegetation and restoration of wetlands, thousands of Canada geese continue to migrate to Cibola every winter; about 85 per cent of Arizona’s wintering goose population resides in the refuge.

With its scenic beauty, the refuge also provides an oasis for couples interested in wildlife-oriented recreational activities.

Start at the visitors centre to view the displays and interpretive information available, then drive a short distance to the three-mile auto tour loop (also known as Canada Goose Drive). Along the drive, stop and take a short walk around the Nature Trail, a one-mile loop through three different native habitats: cottonwood, mesquite and willow. In winter, thousands of Canada geese, snow geese, ducks and sandhill cranes in a 20-acre pond can be seen from an elevated observation deck halfway around the trail.

Sports, Vacation and RV Show

Known as the largest gathering of RVs and RVers on earth, the annual Quartzsite Sports, Vacation and RV Show is a must-stop for couples travelling in and around Brenda in January.

Now in its 30th year, the show has grown exponentially since it was first held in the early 1980s with just 60 exhibitors and a small tent, changing venues twice to accommodate the ever-increasing number of RVers who travel from far and wide to attend. The show moved in 1997 to its current home, a 20-acre facility with over 15 acres of free public parking and a fully carpeted, 69,000-square-foot indoor exhibit area.

Inside the exhibit area, draped booths offer everything related to RVs, while a dozen on-site service bays provide immediate installation, repairs and service on items exhibited at the show.

In 2013, the show will run from January 19 to 27, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The grounds are a short 17-mile drive west of Brenda.

The QIA Gem & Mineral Show and Pow Wow

Within walking distance of the Quartzsite Sports, Vacation and RV Show is another world-renowned show: the QIA (Quartzsite Improvement Association) Gem & Mineral Show and Pow Wow.

Known as "the straw that stirs the drink" in Quartzsite, the show features a wide variety of gems, minerals and jewelry for sale at 70 indoor and 460 outdoor vendor spaces. With 75 per cent of all vendor merchandise required to be gem-, mineral- or jewelry-related, the show may be the perfect time to pick out something special for your sweetheart.

In addition to the gem, mineral and jewelry showcases, the Hobby Room houses eyecatching displays of other hobbies such as painting, quilting, beading, wire wrap and more.

This show is also free to the public and free parking is available via two shuttles running from the parking area to the main hall. Three home-style cooked meals are served each day.

The show runs for five of the nine days of the Sports, Vacation and RV Show—from January 23 to 27, 2013.

For crafty couples in the area outside of these event times, a Craft Fair and Sale is held by the QIA on the first Saturday of each month from November to March.

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