Our family travels from Phoenix to California as often as possible. It seems like the only thing to see on the I-10 is 300 miles of desert, but there are so many cool roadside attractions to check out if you know where to look!
We’re usually in a hurry to get to Disneyland when we travel from Phoenix to California so we don’t want to spend extra drive time to explore little-known sights, but many roadside attractions off the 10 between AZ and CA are just a few miles off the freeway, and they’re “take a look, take a picture, jump back in the car” places.
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#roadtrip from AZ to CA
I’ve made a list of dozens of cool things to see between AZ and CA and we’ve knocked out 10 so far! These roadside attractions off the I-10 between Phoenix and California are places that are probably not worth visiting as a destination, but definitely add to the journey if you can spare a few extra minutes on your roadtrip.
We found the Lost Pilot Rock Sign outside of Quartzsite, AZ.
The Lost Pilot Rock Sign, Quartzsite, AZ
The Lost Pilot Rock Sign is about 10 minutes outside Quartzsite, which is the last stop for cheap Arizona gas before you cross the border into California! Plus, there’s a Dairy Queen.
The Lost Pilot Rock Sign (also known as the Quartzsite Rock Alignment) is the word QUARTZSITE spelled out with rocks, and an arrow and an “N” pointing north, to help pilots get their bearings if they’re lost over the vast desert.
To find it, as you approach Quartzsite, AZ:
- Either put “Fisherman Intaglio” into your Maps app, and look for the broken down fence after mile marker 6 on Plomosa Rd.
- Take exit 19 toward the 95; turn right.
- Turn left on Main St.
- Turn right on 95 N.
- Take the 95 north for about 5 miles; turn right on Plomosa Rd.
- After mile marker 6, look for remnants of a crappy fence on the left.
The travel tips we found before we visited said to look for a fence. This is the “fence”:
- Turn on to the dirt road near the fence, and follow the dirt road until you get to the Lost Pilot Rock Sign.
- Park as close to the fenced area as you can (so you can make a quick getaway if you encounter any wildlife) and walk inside the fence to view the Lost Pilot Rock Sign.
Where Did the Lost Pilot Rock Sign Come From?
During WWII, General Patton trained troops in the harsh Arizona and California deserts, to simulate conditions they’d endure in Africa. The rock alignment was made to be seen from the air to guide pilots to the runway at an airport near Quartzsite—the rocks were originally painted white for greater visibility. This article has additional information about the origin of the Quartzsite rock alignment.
Family Travel Roadtrip Rating for the Lost Pilot Rock Sign: 2.5
1 is getting stranded with a flat tire and 10 is Disneyland.
- My kids rate this roadside attraction a 2.
- Since the Lost Pilot Rock Sign was on our way into Quartzsite from a different roadside attraction and it only took us 12 miles out of our way, I give it a 3: it’s worth an extra 30 minutes drive time to see—if nobody has to pee.
Travel Notes on the Lost Pilot Rock Sign
- Do not wear flip flops! The rocks you walk on to the sign and around it are very sharp.
- We visited the Lost Pilot Rock Sign in February, on a nice, relatively cold day (about 60 degrees). Two guesses as to what you might encounter in the Arizona desert on a warmer day. (Hint: rhymes with attlesnake.)