Where to Ride Dunes

There are some ATV people who simply love the dunes. They live for weekends of wind, orange whip flags and emptying sand out of their pockets. Sound like you? Luckily, the Western United States is scattered with a good handful of sand dune recreation areas that let motorsports enthusiasts get out and throw up a rooster tail of grainy goodness.

As someone born and raised in Northern California, the first set of dunes that come to my mind are situated just 85 miles east of Reno, Nevada at Sand Mountain Recreation Area. This BLM managed area is characterized by steep hill climbs and sharp ridges that are wildly popular among Northern California and Nevada thrill seekers. With a wealth of camping opportunities available, Sand Mountain is a popular stop for holiday weekends, including an annual pilgrimage of turkey lovers for Thanksgiving each year.

Moving South to California, the Imperial Sand Dunes span over 40 miles in South-East California. This impressive swath of BLM managed sand is home to some of the country’s most popular OHV recreation sites including the famed Glamis, Buttercup and Ogilby. The wealth of acreage available for exploration at Imperial Sand Dunes offers a chance to hang with a crowd, or get away from it all for a little peace and quiet out on the sand.

When the people of Idaho aren’t busy buttering up potatoes and rooting for their Boise State Broncos, you can find motorsports enthusiasts out at Saint Anthony Dunes, 50 miles northwest of Idaho Falls. Over 10,000 acres of sparkling white sand are available for exploration at Saint Anthony, along with comfortable camping opportunities at developed sites provided by BLM. Rumor also has it that during the winter, Saint Anthony Dunes is home to one of the country’s largest herd of elk. Fun fact: these are the dunes that Napoleon Dynamite’s grandma visits in the world’s greatest film.

Back on the West Coast, the Oregon Dunes Recreation area offers a chance to check out multiple OHV recreation sites while soaking up the cool, Northwest coastal weather.  Established in 1982, Oregon Dunes became the site of over 32,000 acres of U.S. Forest Service protected land. Three primary OHV areas are available for sand fanatic exploration including Coos Bay, Winchester Bay and Florence. Each offer a unique riding experience ranging from sand roads to hill climbs and chances to explore some of the United State’s highest dunes.

Utah offers a stellar riding opportunity to those who like a little color in their world at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes. Situated near the town of Kanab, Utah the site is managed by both Utah State Parks and BLM. A one mile wide by six mile long swath of reddish pink sand is available for adventure to riders of all skill levels. Over time, the Coral Pink Sand Dunes were created through the accumulation of sand blown in off of the surrounding red cliffs and rock formations that are synonymous with the Utah landscape.

No matter where you hang your helmet in the West, there are bound to be a dynamic set of dunes within your reach. Get out your whip flags and goggles and get out there!