|Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area|
The Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area is the largest stretch of sand dunes in California. A large swath of the dunes is open for dune buggies, ATVs, UTVs and dirt bikes, to carve in and out of the dunes that can reach upward of 300 feet. These dunes attract hundreds of thousands of off-highway vehicles annually during the peak riding season, from late October to April.
Riders will soon have another reason to visit, as 40,000 acres of the dunes are being reopened to OHV's. With the added 40,000 acres, the dunes now stretch for more than 40 miles into Mexico and average at about 5 to 8 miles wide.
If flying over sand dunes in an OHV isn't your cup of tea, the entirety of the Algodones Dunes system is open to hikers and horses. The best area for this is north of CA 78 in the North Algodones Dunes Wilderness. There you can find the tallest dunes, and since OHVs are restricted from entering, there are an abundance of unusual plants and wildlife.
The beauty of the dunes is that there is a variety of experiences to have while you're here. And just like the harsh, desert landscape, those experiences can be unpredictable, dangerous or, in my case, incredibly rewarding. You can spend the day with thousands of OHVs, or you can sprawl out on a dune at night and stargaze in isolation.
To experience the Imperial Sand Dunes, you don't need a tricked-out dune buggy to have a great time, but it probably wouldn't hurt if you did.
For a map, brochure and more information, visit the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management site at blm.gov (search for Imperial Sand Dunes).
If you plan to visit these dunes, here are some recommend locations:
North Algodones Dunes Wilderness: This protected wilderness area has the largest dunes, withan abundant variety of plant and wildlife. OHVs are restricted here, but it's open to hikers and horses.
Osborne Overlook: Popular with day visitors, the overlook offers scenic views of the dunes in Glamis. They are easily accessible from the parking lot for short hiking sessions.
Plank Road: A 1,500-foot stretch of decaying wooden planks is all that remains of the first attempt to lay a road across the Imperial Sand Dunes, in 1916.
Glamis Beach Store: If your OHV is in need of repair after a long day of riding in Glamis, this is basically your only option. The store, at 5775 E. U.S. 78 in Brawley, offers parts and other supplies. Be prepared to pay a premium for pretty much everything in the store, because it's the only one for miles.
U.S.-Mexico border fence: If you're driving past Buttercup Valley on I-8, you can catch a glimpse of the towering border fence. It's about a mile south of the Buttercup campgrounds and can be easily accessed by OHV. Legally, you can go right up to the fence, but don't be surprised if Border Patrol agents on ATVs question you as you get close.
Sand Drags: OHV enthusiasts gather for impromptu "sand drags" on Friday and Saturday afternoons along Gecko Road in Glamis and also in Gordons Well during the riding season.
|Imperial Sand Dunes|