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Hi Jolly Monument, Quartzsite, Arizona

Louise Speaks:  If you’ve ever driven from Phoenix to California on the I-10 you have gone through Quartzsite.  And other than stopping for something to eat or drink you’ll probably say there is nothing much in Quartzsite.   Well it is a winter haven to RVers escaping brutal winters and there is the annual gem shows, but besides that there is not much in Quartzsite.  That is of course until we stumbled on the Hi Jolly Monument.

When you see the signs directing you to the Hi Jolly Monument, you think it’s the burial spot of a camel.  You go by the cemetery and see this large monument / tomb and you’re still thinking its the burial spot of a camel,  It does have something to do with camels, but a camel is not buried there.  Secretary of War Jefferson Davis had a novel idea: transporting freight and people across the desert Southwest on camels.  He eventually imported over 70 of the beasts.  His American masters called him Hi Jolly.

 

 

A plaque on the Hi Jolly’s tomb says of the camel experiment:  “A fair trial might have resulted in complete success.” But the Civil War intervened, Jefferson Davis changed jobs, and without his support the project was abandoned.  The camels were set free to fend for themselves in the desert near Quartzsite.   Hi Jolly remained, living into his seventies. The locals were so fond of him that, after he died, they spent several weeks building Hi Jolly a special pyramid tomb, made of multicolored petrified wood and quartz.  It was dedicated on Jan. 4, 1903.  Thirty-three years later the Arizona Highway Department came along and cemented a bronze plaque to the tomb, telling Hi Jolly’s story, and topped the pyramid with a metal camel silhouette.  You have to drive through Quartzsite  to get to Hi Jolly. There are signs directing you but once there  his tomb is the biggest thing and sits back in the tiny patch of desert solitude.

So next time you go through Quartzsite and you think there’s nothing to see, drive thru town and go see the Hi Jolly Monument,


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River Island State Park, Parker, AZ

Louise Speaks:  Our last state park on our three park trip, is River Island State Park.  This park is actually almost connected to Buckskin State Park (see last years post).  This park was formed as an overflow campground for the popular Buckskin Park.  The park is closer to the city life of Parker, but seems isolated as it is surrounded by beautiful mountains on all sides.  No internet or phone service here so very peaceful for sure.

 

River Island State Park is ideal for tent campers as well and can provide a scenic respite, a desert escape, or a fun-filled water adventure.  The park has only 37 campsites, but does have a group ramada, a sandy beach, a cove, and a boat launch area. The park has a trail for hiking and access to off-highway vehicle back country roads.  There is also a huge dog park and plenty of grassy areas for lawn games.  There are 8 beach front campsites on a grassy area right on the Colorado River.  I’m guessing these are the tent sites although there were no campers during our stay.  The River Island Market, located 1/4 mile outside the park, offers groceries, food deli, gas, clothing boutique and storage.  In the summer, the park unit is most popular for boating, fishing, jet skiing, swimming, and camping amidst a backdrop of beautiful mountains and that 100 degree temperatures I was talking about.  In the winter, visitors appreciate the mild climate and enjoy camping and fishing.  The Blue Water Casino is just a few miles away in the town of Parker.

River Island State Park gets a B+ rating.  Not as good as Buckskin or Cattail, but a great State Park for both day use and camping.


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Lake Havasu State Park, Lake Havasu City, AZ

Louise Speaks;  After two days at Cattail Cove State Park, is was up Hwy 95 just 20 miles to Lake Havasu State Park.  This is a smaller park with less shade trees but it does have a beautiful sandy beach and even a pet beach.  The campsites are huge and far apart unlike some other parks.  The grounds are very clean with colored rock around each campsite.  The bathrooms and showers are older than most parks but I think they are going to be remodeled soon.  This is also close to where a new state park is being built.  The new park will have more campsites and will have cabins for those that don’t have an RV but want to camp on the river.  It says the new park will be open this spring, but only the ground seems to be cleared off with no building in site.  Not sure that a spring opening is possible…but if it’s opened this year we will come back and camp to complete our mission of camping and visiting all state parks in Arizona.

Lake Havasu State Park with it’s scenic shoreline is an ideal place to enjoy beautiful beaches, nature trails, boat ramps, and convenient campsites. This spot is truly a watersport haven and is located near the famous London Bridge of Lake Havasu City. (see separate post for London Bridge). The park offers three boat ramps, 47 campsites, a special events area not available on holiday weekends, a picnic area, and a sandy beach area. The Mohave Sunset Trail which is only 1.75 miles winds its way through the lowland desert and along the shoreline.  The Arroyo-Camino Interpretive Garden showcases the diverse life that exists within the park and this area of the desert.  Birds, lizards, and desert cottontails are common sights.  So as you can see there is lots to do here.  This campground is right in town so almost walking distance to restaurants and local bars.  The London Bridge attractions offers ferry rides across the river to the California side to the nearby casino.  Here you can also rent pontoon boats, jet skis, and motor boats to do your own site seeing along the river.  You can also take a boat cruise to Topoc Arizona and Laughlin Nevada.  The lake actually covers the shore lines of three states, Arizona, Nevada and California.

I would rate Lake Havasu State Park a B.  It is a great campground with large sites…perfect for large group gatherings.  But with no or little shade it just makes it too hot.  Now we are here in February and the temperatures are in the high 70s which is perfect, but come summer when it’s over 100 degrees, having no shade would be brutal.