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Orocopia Mountains facts for kids

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Orocopia Mountains
Orocopia Mountains.JPG
Orocopia Mountains
Highest point
Elevation 1,117 m (3,665 ft)
Orocopia Mountains is located in California
Orocopia Mountains
Location in California
Country United States
State California
District Riverside County
Range coordinates 33°34′00″N 115°46′33″W / 33.56667°N 115.77583°W / 33.56667; -115.77583
Topo map USGS Orocopia Canyon

The Orocopia Mountains are located in Riverside County in southern California, United States, east of the Coachella Valley, west of the Chuckwalla Mountains, and south of Interstate 10 in the Colorado Desert. The range lies in an east-west direction, and is approximately 18 miles long. The Orocopia Mountains are north of and overlooking the Salton Sea and south of Joshua Tree National Park, with the Chocolate Mountains to the southeast and the scenic Mecca Hills just northwest.

Orocopia Mountains Wilderness Area

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Location of the Orocopia Mountains

The area is the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) designated and managed Orocopia Mountains Wilderness Area. The Orocopia Mountains are in the Colorado Desert section of the Sonoran Desert, adjacent to the Lower Colorado River Valley region. Just to the north is the Mecca Hills Wilderness Area.

Flora and fauna

The Wilderness Area includes some remnant natural spring fed oasis with the only California native palm, Washingtonia filifera or the California Fan Palm.


The Bradshaw Trail passed through the mountains, the first recorded route to the Colorado River from Riverside, California.


The dramatic and variable terrain was shaped primarily by movements of the adjacent San Andreas Fault over millennia. Most notably, the Orocopia schist, a blueschist assemblage found in the range, matches the Pelona schist found over 250 km away in the San Gabriel Mountains along the San Andreas fault. Hill and Dibblee (1953) first noted this similarity (a piercing point), and used it to construct the first estimates of the offset on the fault.

Astronaut training

The Orocopia Mountains offer considerable geologic variety and was one of the areas used for geologic field training by Caltech Professor of Geology, Leon T. Silver, for astronauts in preparation for the NASA Project Apollo Moon landing missions. This training included:

  • Apollo 13 Crew Training: September 1969: Astronauts Lovell, Haise and Swigert
  • Apollo 14 crew did not train with Dr. Leon “Lee” Silver, they trained with Richard Henry Jahns, a Professor at Stanford at the time.
  • Apollo 15 Crew Training: June 1970: Astronauts Scott, Irwin and Worden
  • Apollo 16 Crew Training: April 1972: Astronauts Young, Mattingly and Duke
  • Apollo 17 Crew Training: December 1972: Astronauts Cernan, Evans and Schmitt
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