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Quartzsite, Arizona: Rock Sign For Pilots

An official attraction, the Quartzsite Rock Alignment mostly consists of the word "QUARTZSITE" spelled with rocks across 100 feet of the desert floor.

Quartzsite Rock Alignment

Plomosa Rd, Quartzsite, AZ
Drive north from town about five miles on Hwy 95. Turn right onto Plomosa Rd. Drive six miles. Bear left onto a dirt road. Drive a couple hundred yards. Turn left onto a dirt track. Drive a hundred yards and park. The letters will be off to the left, past a well-worn fence. In warm weather watch out for rattlesnakes.
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Visitor Tips and News About Rock Sign For Pilots

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Rock Sign For Pilots

I've recently found I was wrong about the Quartzsite pilot sign. On further digging, I found its original purpose and it's a lot older than I first thought. It was actually for the early airmail/airline pilots. The name and arrow pointed to an airfield that was named after and located in Quartzsite, just SE of the current I-10 and Hwy. 95 intersection. It was listed in the 1931 Commerce Department, Descriptions of Airports and Landing Fields as being "Quartzsite Field, Auxiliary," having two landing strips, one 2100' and the other 1600' long and in a T shape. The airfield shows on early 1930s pilot sectional maps, but is gone by 1938. After that, only (Buck) Conner Field shows (SW of same intersection) on sectionals. Conner Field was renamed Quartzsite Field in 1947. Now the arrow was sorta pointing to an airfield named Quartzsite, only 3 miles off.

[Rick Jackson, 01/09/2022]
Quartzsite Rock Alignment

The [Lost Bomber Pilots rock sign] is a common misconception.

There is an old army bomber field nearby in Blythe. They did fly all over the desert to practice bombing. This "sign" was for the women who were learning to fly to become WASPs. Quartzsite airport was a place for them to learn to do that before they moved onto more advanced training in Sweetwater, TX. There's two parts to this sign. One is to show the direction North (for use in map reading). The other tells the pilot that Quartzsite is in a SSW direction 11 miles from that point. The letters are only about 11.5 ft. tall, so they almost become blurred for anything flying above 3,000 ft. Most bombers would fly 18-24,000 ft. for bombing altitudes. At those altitudes, you can't even see that sign. Primary pilot training was in small private aircraft at much lower altitudes.

If this was actually for the bomber pilots, the sign would read "Blythe - 36.5." That would get them home.

[Rick Jackson, 04/09/2018]

Rock sign.

Quartzsite Rock Alignment

A huge compass and a 100-foot-long name "Quartzsite," with arrows, is spelled out with rocks on the desert. In 1945, Patton's Army Air Force would fly from Quartzsite over the mountains to practice bombing. To help find their way back to the airfield, this alignment was drawn. It points directly to the old airfield southwest of town, with mileage. The compass helped them find the bombing range. Apparently a lot of the new pilots got lost and this guided them back home! The rock layout is in perfect condition and is pretty cool to see, considering it's over 70 years old.

[Gary, 01/31/2016]

Nearby Offbeat Places

Celia's Rainbow GardenCelia's Rainbow Garden, Quartzsite, AZ - 9 mi.
Freedom Garden Fighter JetsFreedom Garden Fighter Jets, Quartzsite, AZ - 9 mi.
Joanne's Gum Gallery MuseumJoanne's Gum Gallery Museum, Quartzsite, AZ - 10 mi.
In the region:
Underwear Tree, Blythe, CA - 24 mi.

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