Striking landscapes such as ridges, open valleys, and colorful eroded canyons make Orocopia Mountains Wilderness a fascinating setting for holidays, primitive camping, and outdoor activities. This Bureau of Land Management property located 20 miles southeast of Indio, California, can be accessed via various areas to the north, west, and south of the park. High clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles are the recommended means of transportation to the park.
No developed camping opportunities are present at Orocopia Mountains Wilderness, and neither are facilities available, so visitors who wish to enjoy free camping are required to equip themselves adequately for the adventure through the wilderness areas. RV camping options are available at Joshua Tree National Park and San Bernardino National Forest.
Recreational opportunities available at Orocopia Mountains Wilderness include bird watching, flora observation, wildlife viewing, sightseeing, and horseback riding. The nearby Salton Sea State Recreation Area is a wonderful destination for added recreation. If you feel up to it, you should also take a trip north to Joshua Tree National Park to enjoy more outdoor activities.
Orocopia Mountains Wilderness is located 20 miles from Indio, California. This BLM wilderness can be accessed from the northern, western and southern areas. If you’re coming to the park from the north, the access route is via Interstate 10. The western part of the park can be accessed from State Highway 195, also known as Box Canyon Road, and the Chiriaco Summit exit which takes you along Red Canyon trail. Access to the park from the south is via Bradshaw Trail. As with most other wilderness areas, the recommended vehicle is high clearance, four-wheel drive.
Within the boundaries of Orocopia Mountains Wilderness, the use of motorized vehicles and mechanical equipment is not allowed. So, as you approach the wilderness in your vehicle, look out for signs and posts that indicate places where you can park your vehicle outside. Navigation within the wilderness is either on foot or on your horse. Wheelchairs are allowed within the wilderness.
There are no direct public transportation services to Orocopia Mountains Wilderness.
Salton Sea State Recreation Area lies southwest of Orocopia Mountains Wilderness on the northern tip of the Salton Sea. At this recreation area, there are several campgrounds that offer primitive, group, tent and RV camping opportunities for guests and campers. The campgrounds are available by reservation and open year-round (Peak season – October to May).
Amenities available in the campground include picnic tables, toilets, showers, potable water, and dump station. Full hookup options are also provided for RVs and trailers (electric, water, and sewer hookups). The maximum equipment length that can be accommodated is 40 feet.
Pets are allowed in the campground and they should be under leash because sharp thorns and cactus grow in the sand.
Bird lovers enjoy themselves at Orocopia Mountains Wilderness and the surrounding areas, thanks to the abundant bird species that soar above the wilderness areas and provide good viewing opportunities.
Orocopia Mountains Wilderness and the nearby Joshua Tree National Park are home to various birds that are seen year-round, as well as migrants and nesters. As soon as you arrive at the park areas, you’ll be greeted by residents such as American kestrel, red-tailed hawk, prairie falcon, and Cooper’s hawk. Winter residents include sage sparrow, hermit thrush, American robin and white-crowned sparrow.
Flora species such as Orocopia sage, Orcutt’s woody aster, Alverson’s foxtail cactus, and Mecca aster are unexpected sights within Orocopia Mountains Wilderness, growing on the stony slopes and gypsum soils in the wilderness.
Just north of the wilderness at Joshua Tree National Park, flora enthusiasts will find about 750 species of vascular plants, half of which are in full bloom in spring. All of this plant life provides opportunities for both study and enjoyment, as well as photography.
Horseback riding is one of the most common activities at Orocopia Mountains Wilderness, thanks in part to the fact that vehicles are not allowed within the wilderness. So, some adventurers and equestrians try exploring the park’s areas on horses, rather than on foot.
At the nearby Joshua Tree National Park, 250 miles of equestrian trails cover the canyon bottoms, open lands, and dry washes. The fun for horseback riders does not end at Orocopia Mountains Wilderness as there’s plenty to do in the region.
Orocopia Mountains Wilderness is home to several wildlife species. Wildlife enthusiasts exploring the wilderness areas will find burro deer, bighorn sheep, small game upland species and desert tortoise living within the mountains in the park.
But the excitement doesn't end there; after taking photographs and seeing these fauna species within their natural environment in the wilderness, adventurers can still proceed north to the national park to see more wildlife such as coyotes, kangaroo rats, and black-tailed rabbits.
The striking landscapes in Orocopia Mountains Wilderness are carved by forces of nature that have resulted in the formation of ridges, open valleys, and colorful canyons. All of these are products of the San Andreas fault system and present nature observers and sightseers with scenic views.
Colorful canyon walls shaded from the bright red to black are particularly visitors’ favorite. Dark night sky viewing is yet another fantastic opportunity available around the wilderness area for sightseers.
Salton Sea is a popular destination and tourist attraction for campers and visitors at Orocopia Mountains Wilderness and surrounding areas. So diverse are the recreational opportunities at Salton Sea that more than 100,000 people visit the site annually.
Some of the things to do include fishing, water-skiing, boating, hiking, and jet-skiing. Birdwatching and sailboarding are additional opportunities available. A State Recreation Area is open to guests who wish to spend time around the sea and enjoy outdoor activities.