The Clark Mountain Range is a prominent feature to the southeast of Primm in California. The range extends for about fifteen miles in a southwest–northeasterly direction with its southerly terminus near Mountain Pass.
To the north, the mountain range ends at Stateline Pass, which is one a mile from the Nevada border. State Line Pass is about ten miles northwest of Primm and about twenty miles southeast of Sandy Valley. The community of Primm was formerly known as Stateline.
The range’s tallest peak, Clark Mountain, at 7,933 feet, is five miles northwest of Mountain Pass. The peak has over 5,000 feet of prominence above the Ivanpah Valley floor to the east where the Ivanpah Dry Lake Bed lies.
Most of the mountain range is between 5,000 feet and 7,000 feet in elevation with some areas of steep slopes. The Clark Mountains are a world–class rock climbing area. Its exposed limestone rock attracts climbers from all over.
The mountain range is the northernmost part of the Mojave National Preserve. The area supports a wide range of plant and wildlife habitats.
Pinyon pines, juniper, and rare white fir trees grow at the higher elevations. These are in ‘sky island’ areas above 6,000 feet, which receive more precipitation. At lower elevations, there are yucca, Creosote bush, and Joshua Trees.
There are several attractions on the lower eastern flanks of the Clark Mountains by I-15. The massive Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (ISEGS), which is one of the world’s largest solar thermal power facilities, is off Exit 291 ten minutes south of Primm.
While an impressive site with three large towers and an array of bright mirrors rising out of the gently sloping desert floor, the powerplant has been a concern for its environmental impact.
This includes the powerplants’ effects on plants, birds, and rare desert animal species such as the Mojave Desert Tortoise.
Also off Exit 291, east of ISEGS, is the Primm Valley Golf Club. It has two excellent courses to challenge golfers with panoramic views of the Clark Mountains and Ivanpah Dry Lake Bed.
North of the mountains there are a couple of nationally protected wilderness areas, which are governed by the Bureau of Land Management.
The Mesquite Wilderness Area is about twelve miles north of Clark Mountain. The Stateline Wilderness Area is about ten miles northeast of the mountains. These areas are primarily in the 4,000 to 5,000 feet elevation zone.
While the Clark Mountains are part of the Mojave National Preserve, there is a break in the preserve near Mountain Pass and around I-15. South of I-15 is the more vast area of the preserve.
The Clark Mountains remain an important mining area. The small community of Mountain Pass is where the MP Minerals has an open-pit mine mining rare earth minerals.
The mine is of national security to the U.S. and currently its only rear-earth mining and processing facility. The metals extracted at the mine include lanthanum, europium, and neodymium.
You can learn more about the mine and its history here.