Riding Idaho’s St. Anthony Sand Dunes


In close proximity to iconic tourist destinations – less than a two hour drive from Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park – St. Anthony’s Sand Dunes offers 10,600 acre playground for ATV and SxS riders covered in a uniquely beautiful white quartz sand.

St. Anthony’s Sand Dunes is a must-try location, covering 175 square miles with dunes ranging in height from 50 to over 400 feet tall. The area 50 miles northwest of Idaho Falls is bordered on the north by the Juniper Buttes, which are actually extinct volcanoes. 

Multiple access points to the dunes create plenty of riding challenges. The most popular areas include Choke Cherry Hill, Devil’s Dune, and Thunder Mountain — all offering huge hill climbs and places where riders meet to race each other up the steep faces of monster dunes.

St. Anthony’s has multiple camping areas, with reservations recommended for the Elgin Lake campgrounds that fill up fast starting in early spring. Many campsites offer RV hook-ups and showers, others are more primitive. Maps of available accommodations are on the Bureau of Land Management’s website.

For those who don’t want to trailer in, or those who don’t own a quad, there are several ATV rental shops nearby. And a company called Dune Excursions offers rentals delivered on site, and can also hook you up if you’re a novice, with private lessons that get beginners primed for sand riding and ready to safely cruise the miles on dunes.

The smaller dunes between Thunder Mountain and the Red Road are open all year. The larger dune area has a winter closure from January 1-March 31 on the sand, and through the month of April for the surrounding area to accommodate the migrating elk who call the dunes home in winter months. The dune also host the largest desert wintering elk population in North America.

Photo credit: Getty Images