Nevada: Sand Mountain

Fallon, Nev.

By Mark A. Rolland

If you live on the East Coast, you may never picture yourself riding in sand. You’d be selling yourself short if you never took the opportunity to do so.

If you ever see yourself taking a trip west, try to find the time to visit one of the many dunes in almost any of the western states.

Sand Mountain is located east of Fallon, Nevada, about 25 minutes along Highway 50 (about 100 miles east of Lake Tahoe).

The local federal Bureau of Land Management says the mountain itself is a mile wide and three miles long. They also say it stands 600 feet tall, which puts it in the top three highest dunes in the country.

The total riding area is around 5,000 acres, but there is only one trail that runs throughout the area. Otherwise, the main dune, along with an area behind the mountain, is the main riding area.

There are three toilets, but no running water or electricity. A $20, seven-day pass (the price could go up for 2006) can be purchased onsite from a cash box.

The busy season is from March through June and again from September thru November. On Memorial Day Weekend, there is an "unofficial'' event that attracts some of the biggest names in quadding and fastest hill climbers in the country.

This isn’t a good time to bring the kids, but it is a great time to see quads climb a 600-foot dune at speeds over 90 mph and check out the latest bling from local vendors.

If you visit in the early months of the year, it is possible to see a little snow here and there. Typically by the end of March/April, temperatures will be in the mid-60s to 70s and daytime riding can be enjoyed.

After the sun goes down, it cools off fast and can get very cold, quickly! The local BLM has started to enforce the "no flag'' rule, which means you can be fined up to $100, if not more, for being seen riding without a whip flag.

For more information on Sand Mountain, and other popular sand dunes, visit the U.S. Bureau of Land Management website.

If you have time to kill and don’t have your own ATV, check out the opportunities at Lake Tahoe Adventures ( and take a guided tour on an ATV in the summer or on the Rubicon Trail, or snowmobile in the winter.