Movements of the earth’s plates and worldwide weather patterns plus long-term local climatic conditions have produced the desert landscapes we have seen and love today. The grains of sand came from huge solid rocks many making up the mountain ranges. Strong storms and violent winds with the rain ground the rock into fine sand. Winds blow the sand into drifts and bowls. It’s a long and involved process but to make a long story short that’s how we have dunes now. What’s great about the desert dunes is that after a big weekend when herds of buggies, jeeps, ATVs and trucks leave the area the wind blows for a couple of days and there is no trace of people having been there. It’s just as if it was 1000 years ago. I guess the gas prices were a lot less then.
There are some great sand areas to drive on whether it is a 4×4, buggy, motorcycles, truck or ATVs or whatever. We have seen just about everything on the sand. Some of these spots get a little crowed during winter holidays. Inland dunes are best late September and mid May as the temperature goes up in the summer. We have been following the news about the pending closure of some of the larger dunes. Environmental groups are talking about suing the Bureau of Land Management to get them to close the dunes. There are tens of thousands of good people that use the dunes for fun and weekend enjoyment. As always, check with the local authorities to make sure the area is open.
P.S. We learned that the BLM has closed the south part of Glamis on November 22, 2000. There is still room to play but big weekends might be a little crowded.
Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Located on highway 78 just north from Salton Sea off highway 86 south. This is a great place for running sand washes. The actual dune area is somewhat small, the largest one is Devils Slide. Another is Blow Sand hill. There is not a lot of dunes around but there is a big area for running washes. Gas in the area is high so load up before you get here. Ranger Station Phone (619) 767-5391 Recommended vehicles: MC, 4WD, ATV, DB. There is a small town called Borrego Springs north of the park about 12 miles. They have many restaurants and a couple of gas stations. There is a motel or two also.
On the way to Vegas on highway 15, turn left at Baker. It’s a small city miles from anywhere. The highway you need is 127. It’s the only other road out there. Go about 30 miles then look on your left. You should see the dunes. There is a dirt road called Dumont Dunes road, turn right there. The open area of 8,150 acres contains mostly sand dunes. Dumont dunes are the highest in California. There is no water or toilets. A big weekend is Presidents weekend, Jeep clubs have their hill climbs that weekend but all kinds of vehicles compete. Its fun to just watch hill climbs on the sand. Anything can happen. Recommended vehicles: MC, 4WD, ATV, DB (760) 252-6000
Kelso Dunes (closed to vehicles)
Located just south west of Baker off Highway 15. Go south on Kelbaker road. It’s about thirty miles that way or go north on the same road from Interstate 40. When you reach the town of Kelso turn west. The area has one of the biggest sand bowls anywhere. The night time stars are something you won’t forget. The area has been closed to off road vehicles. So much for off road fun.
Imperial sand Dunes (Butter Cup Valley)
Sitting on 11,000 acres, located 10 miles southeast of Niland on the Niland/Glamis road. Lots of dunes, keep an eye out for closed areas at the south end of the area. (760) 337-4400 Recommended vehicles: MC, 4WD, ATV, DB
Sand Dunes Imperial Recreation Area (Glamis/Gecko)
This is called the king of dunes. Glamas/Gecko has sand hills called “competition and Oldsmobile.” Competition hill is fun to watch especially at night. Oldsmobile hill is far back but worth the trip. The hill is much steeper and need a good vehicle to make it up. We saw 4wd trucks pulling couches behind them on skids. People sat on the make shift floats with a cool one in hand. We don’t recommend this mode of transportation but it looked fun. The busy weeks are Thanksgiving and New Years. During that time can’t swing a dead mouse without hitting an off road vehicle. The dunes are 8 miles wide by 40 miles long but watch out for areas that are off limits. The trek from Gecko road on the west side to the old Glamis store on the east side is filled with rolling sand hills and whoop-de-doo’s. This is along side of the highway and people camp in the area so keep your eyes open.
On a weekday away from a holiday you may never see anyone. Still you need a flag on your vehicle so others might see you coming over a hill or in a bowl. We have seen many two wheel drive cars on the sand but we have helped pulled a lot of them out also. Located 25 miles east of Brawley. (If you stay in Brawley the Brawley inn is real nice) As you drive in to Glamis from the west most everything on your left in Military bombing range and your not allowed in there, check it out before you drive over that way. (760) 337-4400 Recommended vehicles: MC, 4WD, ATV, DB or whatever. P.S. We learned that the BLM has closed the south part of Glamis on November 22 2000. There is still room to play but big weekends might be a little crowded.
Imperial sand Dunes (Mammoth Wash)
Located 15 miles, west of Yuma on1-80. Just north of Glamis. 12,000 acres (760) 337-4400 Recommended vehicles: MC, 4WD, ATV, DB
Located 2 miles east of Olancha on State highway 190. Open area, 1000 acres. Somewhat small and never crowded. Recommended vehicles: MC, 4WD, ATV, DB (760) 384-5400
Located 45 miles Northwest of Barstow on Rasor Road. Open area 22,500 acres. Some sand washes and dunes. Lots of mesquite thickets. (760) 255-8700 Recommended vehicles: MC, 4WD, ATV, DB
Rice Valley Dunes
Located 5 miles south of Rice Valley off highway 62. Access is Santa Fe road. Open area with 3,770 acres of places to roam. There is unexploded ordinance in the area. This is not a great place. I have seen very few people there. (760) 251-4800 – Closed to vehicles in 2002