California: Imperial Sand Dunes

Glamis, Calif.

The largest sand dune area in the state, spanning 40 miles in length and five miles wide, the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area in southeast California near the town of Glamis is a mecca for ATV riders. It's also popular with dune buggy hobbyists and others.

Managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management, off-highway riding is allowed in the isolated northern area known as Mammoth Wash. South of Mammoth Wash is the North Algodones Dunes Wilderness area, which is closed to all mechanized travel. State Highway 78 forms the southern boundary of the Wilderness. South of the highway is where the real action is, since this is where the most heavily used dunes are found.

Tens of thousands of enthusiasts of all kinds flock to the dunes on holiday weekends.

A recreation permit is required to use the dunes. A season permit is $90 if purchased offsite and good from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. The permit is $120 if purchased at the dunes. A seven-day permit is $25 if bought offsite and $40 at the dunes.

Safety flags are required for all vehicles using the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area. So an ATV must have a whip mast that extends eight feet off the ground with a 6-by-12-inch red/orange flag on it. A 15 mph speed limit is enforced on the sand highways, and no glass beverage containers or alcoholic beverages are allowed. Helmets are required.

Also, there is a 14-day camping limit.

For more information, contact: Bureau of Land Management, El Centro Field Office, 1661 S. 4th St., El Centro, CA 92243. Phone: (760) 337-4400, Fax: (760) 337-4490.