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Southern California Tracks

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Sand Dunes

America's Top 10 Sand Dunes


"Where can I ride my ATV?" This is a questions we often ask. For those living west of the Mississippi, there is a good chance to have been to a sand dune riding area. And depending how long you've been riding, you may have tackled several dunes already. Here is a list of top 10 dunes in America compiled by ATV Rider.

One rule applies to all the locations below: Whip Flags are a must! Some facilities will fine you up to $100 if you don't have one on your OHV. Other shared rules were the spark arrestors on every machine, no glass containers on the dunes, no burning of wood pallets and be aware of speed limits on paved roads and near campsites. You now have a starting point for sand excursions. Make sure to check out www.DuneGuide.com for more information before you go.

 

1. St. Anthony's, Idaho


Eastern Idaho, 50 miles northwest of Idaho Falls
10,600 acres of sand for riding
Open April 1- December 31
RV hookups and showers available
Three campgrounds
Operated by BLM
208-523-1012
No fee to ride the dunes, but each campground has overnight fees.

2. Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (Glamis), California


Just under 160,000 acres for riding
Open 365 days 24/7
Open camping, no water or electricity
Valut toilets at Gecko and Buttercup campgrounds
Operated by BLM
760-344-3919 (October-May
Fees are $25 for a week pass; $90 for the season (Oct. 1-Sept. 30)
This is the biggest set of dunes in the US. It's actually divided into four areas: Glamis, Gordon Wells, Gecko and Buttercup. YOu can witness it all here. Thanksgiving Day weekend can see over 150,000 from more than a dozen states. All riders are required to have helmets and green stickers on the ATV. Summer temperatures can reach 120 easily. Drag racing up Oldsmobile or Competition Hill is always a crowd pleaser.


3. Little Sahara Recreation Area, Utah


Western Utah, 115 miles Southwest of Salt Lake City
60,000 acres of sand
Open 365 days 24/7
215 sites in four campgrounds
Limited flush toilets
Operated by BLM
435-433-5960
Fees includes day use and camping, $8 per vehicle in off-season; $10 during holiday weekends.


4. Dumont Dunes, California


North of Baker on Highway 127
10,590 acres of sand
Open 365 days 24/7
Open camping, no water or electricity
12 vault toilets
Operated by BLM
760-252-6000
Fees are $20 per week; $60 for an annual pass (Oct. 1-Sept. 30)


5. Oregon Dunes Recreation Area, Oregon


Western Oregon near Florence, Reedsport and Coos Bay
6,000 acres of open dunes, some on the beach; 5,000 acres of trails
Open 365 days 24/7 for camping; sunrise to 10:30pm for riding
Over 800 campsites in numerous campgrounds
Operated by Forest Service
541-271-3611
400 Forest Service day parking spots
Fees include a regquired two-year permit for $10; $5 per day parking fees, but a $10 10-day pass and $35 annual pass are available.


6. Oceano Dunes State Recreation Area (Pismo), California


Southern California, 12 miles south of San Luis Obispo
Approx. 1,250 acres open during peak season
Open 365 days 24/7
Dry camping
Vault and chemical toilets
Perated by Parks & Recreation
805-473-7220
Fees are $5 for day-use per vehicle; $10 per night for camping; $40 for an annual pass.


7. Coral Pink Dunes State Park, Utah


Southern Utah, near Kanab
Approx. 3,500 acres of sand
Open 365 days 24/7
22 RV sites with water only
One shower building, limited electricity
Operated by State rangers
425-648-2800
Fees (in state-run park) are $14 per night camping; $5 for each day OHV.

The Coral Pink Dunes are often called the most photographed dunes in the West. Along list of movies have been filmed in this area. Riders younger than 18 must wear a helmet, 8-15-year-olds must have completed a safety course, which you can schedule to take on-site for only $10; call 801-538-7433. Children under eight years old are not allowed to drive any ATV. Quiet hours are strictly enforced from 10pm to 9am, which includes generators. There are not many tall dunes, but you will find lots of steep climbing to keep you challenged. The dunes are 6000 feet above sea level, which robs some horsepower. A 400EX (properly jetted) could climb most hills. The BLM section to the north can be ridden at night with working lights. Avoid riding in the state are at night, especially during quiet time. These dunes are friendly for all level of riders. Rangers are on duty, and pay phones are available. Visit http://www.stateparks.utah.gov to discover your Boating or OHV playground!


8. Little Sahara State Park, Oklahoma


Four miles south of Waynoka, Oklahoma
1,600 acres of sand
Open 365 days 24/7
100 RV sites with water and electricity
100 primitive campsites
Operated by state rangers
580-824-1471
Other private campgrounds off site
Fees are $7 per day riding; $8 for dry camping; $16 per RV (with water and electricity hookups); three shelters run $30 each plus camping fee.


9. Sand Mountain, Nevada


Northwestern Nevada, 85 miles east of Reno on Highway 50
2,400 acres open for riding
Open 365 days 24/7
No water or electricity available
6 vault toilets
Operated by BLM
775-885-6000
Large camping area
Fees are $20 for a week pass or $45 for an annual pass. (These prices could be higher now)

Nearby Fallon has supplies along with hotels and food. Holidays can get crowded. Memorial Day weekend is big for drag racing enthusiasts; the crowd was 7,000-plus in last Memorial Day weekend. This facility is under the microscope for possible closing of some trails. The big dune itself is close to 3 miles long, almost 1 mile wide and 600 fee tall. Camping is first come, first served. Don't be surprised if a limit is set on how many people/campers are allowed in on holiday weekends. Vendors are present on big weekends. There is a pay phone just off the main highway, and cell phone coverage is weak.


10. Killpecker Dune, Wyoming


Southern Wyoming
12,182 acres of white sand
Open 365 days 24/7
No water or electricity available
2 vault toilets, 2 picnic tables and a covered pavilion
Operated by BLM
307-352-0256
Day-use parking are
Fees are voluntary. Remember, all money raised will go back into campground improvements, so be generous. To ride, you must have a Wyoming permit, which can be purchased at any of the three dealerships in nearby rock Springs.

This is a best-kept secret of Wyoming. The sand itself is great, and there is plenty of it. The tallest dune is more than 300 feet with a couple of others almost as big. With the altitude in nearby Rock Springs (31 miles away) at around 6,000 feet, it's one of the highest dunes on this list. The elevation translates into a loss of some horsepower from thin air and a need to rejet. The sand is almost pure white and reflects a lot of sunlight. Riding while the sun is high in the sky can make it difficult to see the elevation changes as you move along. The 22-mile county road that leads to the dunes is often very rough and full of washboards. In a big motor home, top speeds are about 12 mph before the dashboard rattle gets excessive. Take your time and save your suspension and tires. There is no phone for emergencies and wish you luck in getting cell phones to work.

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