Overview Of Big Dune
Open: Year Round (but summer is too hot for riding)
Latitude / Longitude: 36.647378, -116.584977
Managed by: BLM
Camping: Free Dispersed Camping (no amenities)
Location: Southern Nevada (near Death Valley)
From Las Vegas
Drive north on US-95 for approximately 95 miles.
Turn left onto Valley View Road
Drive approximately 2.2 miles.
Turn Right onto a dirt road
Drive until you reach the dune.
Big Dune / Amargosa Sand Dunes
Remote desert dunes about 1 1/2 hours north of Las Vegas in Armagosa Valley. At only five square miles, it’s not a huge dune riding area, but with dune heights of 500 feet it offers some good climbs.
With it’s convenient location to Las Vegas, it gets moderate use on weekends and holidays from October – April. Not a lot of tourists make it to these off-roading dunes, it’s primarily locals.
Big Dune is a “Star Dune”. This type of dune, as you would expect, resembles a star, they’re formed in areas where the wind shifts directions a lot, causing the sand to pile higher in the middle while developing several “arms” that extend outward.
It’s hard to see the star from ground level, but it can be seen clearly from the air.
BLM Website: Big Dune, Amargosa Valley NV
For more great ATVing in Nevada check out the Crescent Sand Dunes in Tonopah, Sand Mountain in Fallon and the Winnemucca Sand Dunes. If you’re looking for something a little closer to home, the Nellis Dunes offer some great riding just outside North Las Vegas.
Singing Sand Dune
Big Dune is one of the worlds very few “singing” sand dunes. Also sometimes called “booming” dunes, this type of dune is very rare. Only about 41 sand dunes in the world possess the unique ability to “sing”.
The singing results from a reverberation that occurs when the sand is disturbed. The reverberation can produce a light hum that is audible to the human ear.
Any shifting of the sand can create the reverberation humming, including wind or large chunks of sand dropping off due to shearing, slippage, or “avalanches”. The singing can also happen with walking or driving on the dunes or natural events such as earth tremors.
Very dry conditions provide the best environment for producing a singing dune. The US has nine singing sand dunes, all of which are located in the dry western deserts of the US.
Nevada has three singing sand dunes, California four and both Colorado and Wyoming have one.
The other singing sand dunes of Nevada are Sand Mountain, Fallon, Nevada and Crescent Dunes, Tonopah NV. Both of these other dunes are also OHV areas, providing excellent off roading opportunities.
- The Big Dune Complex is protected as a BLM designated Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). Within the ACEC, a five acre area on the east side of the dunes has been set aside specifically for protection of 3 species of beetles: Large Aegialian Scarab Beetle, Rulien’s miloderes weevil and Big Dune aphodius scarab beetle.
- The Desert Tortoise also makes it’s home in this region. Unfortunately, the Desert Tortoise is in danger of becoming extinct. It is protected under the Endangered Species Act which makes it illegal to harass, collect, transport or harm tortoises and provides for penalties of up to $50,000 in fines and a year in prison for each violation.
Rules & Regulations
Nevada OHVA Laws
- Nevada recognizes and accepts OHVs registered or certified in other states if the vehicle is in NV for less than 15 days.
- Every owner of an OHV is required to register their OHV.
- If your vehicle is licensed for on road travel, you do not need to purchase an OHV sticker for off road use. OHVs includes ATVs, pocket bikes, motorized scooters and snowmobiles.OHVs includes ATVs, pocket bikes, motorized scooters and snowmobiles.
- Only two-wheeled motorcycles may be converted to on-road use.
- OHVs can not be converted to street legal even if they have safety equipment.
- There are no driver license or minimum age requirements for OHVs operated off-highway in Nevada.
BLM OHV / Camping Rules
- A spark arrestor is required.
- Mufflers and noise limits are in effect.
- Campfires are permitted, but no wood is available to purchase on site.
- Ride only on trails and approved riding areas.
- Camp only in designated areas.
- Do not burn wood containing nails, screws or other metal hardware.
- No pallet or tire fires.
- Respect other campers.
- Reduce speed to 15 mph in camping areas.
- Discharge of firearms, fireworks or projectiles is not allowed.
- The BLM forbids and/or strongly discourages the use of glass containers in heavy use areas.
- Do not dump waste water.
Nevada’s Rules of the Road
- Any motorized vehicle which does not have the normal safety equipment such as lights and mirrors or is not built to federal vehicle standards is an off-highway vehicle and is restricted to off-highway use only. This includes all-terrain vehicles, pocket bikes, motorized scooters and snowmobiles.
- If a vehicle was manufactured and designated for “off-road” or “non-road” use only, it may not be driven on Nevada public streets or highways even if it has safety equipment. The designation for off-highway use is usually indicated in ownership documents, the owner’s manual or by a U.S. DOT label attached to the frame of the vehicle. Only two-wheeled motorcycles may be converted to on-road use. Other OHVs may not be converted.
- There are no driver license or minimum age requirements for OHVs operated off-highway in Nevada. City and county governments may designate small portions of public streets for access to or from off-road areas only and some age restrictions or other requirements may apply.
Nevada Trail Etiquette
- Motor vehicles are permitted on designated trails only.
- Always plan ahead and prepare for uncertainty. Travel with warm clothing, first aid, food, water and appropriate tools to fix a problem.
- Traveling in groups is always a good idea, as well as informing someone of where you will be going.
- Make sure your vehicle is equipped with a spark arrestor
- Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Dispose of Waste Properly
- Leave What You Find
- Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Respect Wildlife
- Be Considerate of Other Trail Users