Orocopia Mountains Wilderness
Multi-colored, striated slopes in the Orocopia Mountains
The Orocopia Mountains Wilderness is a 51,289-acre property in the Orocopia Mountains, northeast of the Salton Sea. The Mecca Hills Wilderness is across a road corridor to the west. The I-10 is to the north and there are other road corridors running along the northwest, south, east and southeast boundaries of the wilderness.
A range about 18 miles long and running mostly east-west, the Orocopia Mountains are spread across many of the fault lines in the San Andreas Complex. That has made for significant geologic upheaval in the immediate area. That action is blamed for the many shades of red-to-black rock and the mazes of ridges, valleys and canyons. The canyons and washes can be very deep and sometimes very long. The fossilized remains of prehistoric camels, horses and deer have been found in canyon walls.
The climate is harsh, the desert demanding. Still, with a few remnant spring-fed oases, there's vegetation and wildlife in more areas than you'd expect. Orocopia sage, Alverson's foxtail cactus, desert wildflowers and you'll find a few California fan palms at some of the spring heads. The lower areas of the wilderness are favored by the desert tortoise while there are burro deer and desert bighorn sheep in the mountains.
Rock formations in one area of the Orocopia Mountains
Lower photo courtesy of Bachelot Pierre, J-P, CCA-by-SA 3.0 License