Clark Mountain is the highest point in the Mojave National Preserve. This large and impressive mountain dominates the landscape near Mountain Pass for miles around. Although few people pay much attention to Clark Mountain itself, many are familiar with the long haul up Interstate 15 to Mountain Pass. The steep and sometimes treacherous grades of the highway as it crosses the mountain's southern flanks are usually enough to capture anyone's attention. Clark Mountain is located in the Mesquite Mountains BLM Wilderness Area.
Although it is close to a major highway, Clark Mountain has virtually no tourist attractions. There are no campgrounds or trails on Clark Mountain. There is one small picnic area at the southern base of the mountain, but reaching it can be a challenge. The roads leading to it are rough and confusing, but that may change in the future if the mountain starts receiving more visitors. With an elevation of 7,930', Clark Mountain ranks way down on the California elevation list. But the new field of Prominence has made Clark Mountain an important mountain. With a prominence of 4,254', Clark Mountain is big enough to make an impressive appearance on the crowded California Prominence Map.
The driving route to the trailhead is not straightforward, and a high clearance vehicle is necessary. The Road and Peak Guide by the Desert Peaks Section of the Sierra Club has some detailed directions, as do some other guide books, but we found the guidebooks inaccurate, and the roads around here confusing. It took us more than one attempt before we found the right road in. Your goal is to get to this picnic area at 1,850 meters at the base of Clark Mountain. Since there is only one road that leads to the picnic area, once you find it, just drive on it until the road ends.
The following information was taken from the DPS Guide, and the posted comments: Exit I-15 at Bailey Road in Mountain Pass. Drive north a short distance, then turn left onto the paved Clark Mountain Road. Drive west 1.1 miles until the pavement ends at a cattle guard. Continue west 0.4 miles on an excellent dirt road to a 4-way junction. Turn right (keeping the mine tailings pile on your right) and go 0.6 miles to a second junction. Go straight ahead here. Do not turn left onto the power line road like we did. Instead, drive east on the good road as it passes by the tailings pile, heads down a small hill, then heads up a sandy wash. Follow the wash for about 1.3 miles until reaching the open hillsides above an electrical substation. The road then switchbacks left and right. One mile past the right switchback, bear left at a fork and drive 0.6 miles to road's end at a picnic area. The road continues on past the picnic area another half mile or so to 1,950 meters. This is an alternate starting point.
A good map of the correct access route can be found here.
Contact the Mojave National Preserve HQ in Barstow at 760-252-6100, or the BLM Field Office in Needles at 760-326-7000 for the latest information.
Topo Maps: Clark Mtn; Mescal Range.
There are no developed campgrounds near Clark Mountain. However, primitive camping is allowed in the area.