Mountain Pass, California is a small–unincorporated community located in San Bernardino County, California fifteen miles southwest of Primm. With an elevation of over 4,700 feet, Mountain Pass is the highest point on Interstate 15 in California, and is more than 2,000 feet higher than the Ivanpah Valley floor.
Despite being in the Mojave Desert, its elevation causes it to receive more precipitation than the low lying areas and with the lower temperatures, it supports more plant life. Creosote scrub and Joshua trees grow in the area.
Mountain Pass has a cooler climate than the surrounding desert valleys. Average high temperatures in the summer are near 90 degrees with low temperatures in the 60s.
Daytime highs in the winter are typically in the 50s with lows below freezing. Mountain Pass averages eight inches of precipitation per year, three inches more than Primm. In the winter, the area receives occasional snowfall, with a modest average amount of nine inches per year.
There is a in Mountain Pass that has an interesting history. It has deposits of bastnäsite and other rare minerals.
The Mountain Pass mine once made the U.S. the world's largest producer of rare-earth minerals. You can learn more about the mine here.
Mountain Pass sits at the southern edge of the Clark Mountain Range. The range extends for about fifteen miles in a southwest–northeasterly direction. Its tallest peak, Clark Mountain, at 7,933 feet, is five miles northwest of Mountain Pass. Pinyon pines, juniper, and rare white fir trees grow at the higher elevations.
Clark Mountain is also a world–class rock climbing area. Its exposed limestone rock attracts climbers from all over.
The Mountain Pass area is an interesting departure from the valley floor offering different scenery, plant life, and high mountain peaks. If you love hiking or climbing, the area is well worth a visit!