HomeSand DunesImperial Sand Dune Recreation Area (Glamis, California)

Imperial Sand Dune Recreation Area (Glamis, California)

Overview of Glamis Sand Dunes

Open: Year round (but riding only recommended from October – April)
Latitude / Longitude: 32.97321, -115.17314
Managed by: BLM
Usage: Very Heavy
Fee: Permit required from October 1 – April 15
Purchase Online In Advance: $35
Purchase From a vendor: $35
Purchase On-Site: $50
Season Pass: $150
Camping: Free
(but a permit to access the dunes is required)
Location: Southeast California

From Brawley California (30 minute drive)
Travel 14 miles East on Hwy 78
Turn Right on Gecko Rd
Drive 2.5 miles down Gecko Rd to the dunes

BLM Map of Glamis Sand Dunes

Camping At Glamis Sand Dunes

Remote, Undeveloped Camping

10 Campgrounds with toilets
10 Camping areas with pads
Fee: Free
ADA Accessible: unknown
No hook-ups
No water
No shade
Some pads
Pit toilets
Food/supplies available at Vendor Row
Directions: There are several different camping areas throughout the dunes

Imperial Sand Dune Recreation Area

Every ATVer should make a trip to the Imperial Sand Dunes. It’s the mecca of big sand. Over 1,000,000 visitors a year make their way to these dunes each year.

There are some portions of the dunes closed to motorized and mechanized travel, but open to hiking and horse back riding. However, most of the visitors to Glamis are there to off-road.


As with all the popular dunes, plan a visit Monday through Thursday if possible. Avoid weekends and definitely avoid all the winter three day holidays; these big holidays can see 150,000 visitors a weekend.

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The Glamis Sand Dunes are the largest OHV sand dune area in the United Stands. At 40 miles long and 5 miles wide, this is 118,000 acres for OHV off-roading. The Glamis Dunes have it all: soft clean sand, wide open space, big bowls, jumps, rolling hills and big climbs.

Right off of Hwy 78 is what is called The Flats, this is where all the vendors are located. You can find most everything you need here on vendor row: ice, water, snacks, fast food, firewood, clothes and parts.

You can also rent an ATV / UTV on The Flats. People like being close to the amenities, so the camping spaces near The Flats fill up fast.

The vast panoramic views with nothing but sand for miles makes it the perfect location for filming movies. Several big movies such as Star Wars, Stargate, Scorpion King, Resident Evil: Extinction and Lawrence of Arabia have all been filmed here.

I used to love David Carradine in Kung Fu, although I haven’t seen it in ages. Well, I found out that some of the opening scenes of Kung Fu were also filmed here.

This entire geographic region’s official name is the Algodones Dunes, named for the Yuman tribe that once lived in this region. Algodones is a poor English and Spanish translation of Yuman.

The Imperial Sand Dunes, also called Glamis Sand Dunes, are a small portion of the Algodones Dunes. There are other smaller dunes and features to the south of Glamis including Gordon’s Well, Buttercup, Ogilby, Midway, and Patton’s Valley that are also part of the larger Algodones Dunes.

  • Save $15 if you buy your permit in advance
  • No glass containers allowed
  • All ATV / UTV must be registered and display a red or green sticker. $52 for 2 years
  • ATVs must be registered. If you home state does not have ATV registration then you must purchase a California nonresident permit (sticker) through selected vendors in CA, NV, AZ. The cost is $30.
  • Do not leave vehicles unattended in the day use or camping areas at the USDRA. They will get towed. There is a 24 hour limit for unattended vehicles in day use areas and 72 hours in other areas.

Imperial Sand Dunes

Where Can I Purchase A Glamis Sand Dunes Pass?

  • Purchase online in advance for $35. If you buy a seasonal or weekly permit online, you can buy a second weekly permit for $25 ($10 off the full price)
  • Purchase from a vendor for $35
  • Purchase on-site for $50. Buy at ranger stations and from some dune area vendors
  • Season pass costs $150
  • Purchase Online: Imperial Sand Dunes Permits

Free Days At Imperial Dunes

There are usually a couple free access days a year, contact the BLM for free dates or find them here: Free Days At Glamis

BLM Office That Manages Dunes

Bureau of Land Management
El Centro Field Office
1661 S. 4th Street
El Centro CA 92243

  • Hours: Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Phone: 760-337-4400
  • Email:

BLM: Imperial Sand Dune

Where To Purchase A Nonresident OHV Permit


Imperial Sand Dune Rules

  • RECREATION PERMIT. A permit is required for all primary street legal vehicles used for transportation to the recreation site (unless exempted by P.L. 108-447). Permits must be purchased and visibly displayed in the windshield with the date side facing out upon arrival to ISDRA. Permits are non-refundable.
  • SAFETY FLAGS ARE REQUIRED ON ALL VEHICLES IN THE IMPERIAL SAND DUNES RECREATION AREA (This includes two-wheeled motorcycles). All vehicles shall be equipped with a whip mast and a 6×12 inch red/orange flag. Flags may be of pennant, triangle, square, or rectangular shape. Masts must be securely mounted on the vehicle and extend 8 feet from the ground to the mast tip. Safety flags must be attached within 10 inches of the tip of the whip mast with club or other flags mounted below safety flag or on another whip.
  • A 15 MPH SPEED RULE EXISTS ON THE SAND HIGHWAYS. No person shall operate an OHV in excess of 15 mph on public lands within 500 feet of Highway 78, Grays Well Road, Gecko Road and access roads within the Gecko and Roadrunner recreation sites.
  • NO SAVING SPACES. It is prohibited to reserve or save a camping space for another person.
  • STAKING AREAS. It is prohibited to place into the ground any non-flexible object, such as, but not limited to, metal stakes, poles, or pipes, with the exception of small tent or awning stakes.
  • FIRES. The burning of potentially hazardous materials, e.g. (but not limited to) gas, oil, plastic and magnesium is prohibited.
  • WOOD PALLETS. It is prohibited to use as firewood, or have in possession, any firewood materials containing nails, screws, or other metal hardware, including, but not limited to, wood pallets and/or construction debris.
  • NO GLASS BEVERAGE CONTAINERS ARE ALLOWED. Possession or use of any glass, cup or bottle, empty or not, used for carrying any liquid for drinking purposes is prohibited. Persons may pick up glass beverage containers discarded by others to remove for deposit in approved trash receptacles.
  • NO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES ALLOWED WHILE RIDING ON BLM LANDS. No person shall drink an alcoholic beverage, have in their possession or on their person any open container that contains an alcoholic beverage while operating in or on a motor vehicle or OHV on public lands administered by BLM within California.
  • QUIET HOURS. No person shall operate or use any audio, such as a radio, television, musical instrument, or other noise producing device or motorized equipment (including generators)between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am in a manner that makes unreasonable noise that disturbs other visitors; or operate or use a public address system without written authorization from BLM.
  • PUBLIC NUDITY. Public nudity is prohibited.
  • ORGANIZED GROUP ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS. You may not stage, carry out, participate in, or sponsor an organized event or activity without written authorization from BLM (e.g. customer appreciation days, competitive races, bands, videos, movies, etc.).
  • RIDING IN PICKUP BEDS AND OTHER UNSAFE ACTIVITIES. No person shall ride in the bed of a pick up truck or any part of a motor vehicle not designed for passengers on or off road.
  • AIRCRAFT. Taking off or landing of aircraft, including ultralights, is prohibited within 1 mile of Gecko Road.
  • DUMPING. Dumping of sewage is prohibited.
  • CAMPING LIMITATIONS. A 14 day camping limit is in effect in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area.
  • PARKING RESTRICTIONS. No parking or camping within 10 feet of pavement on Gecko Road.
  • FIREARMS/FIREWORKS. It is unlawful to discharge or use firearms, fireworks or other weapons within the recreation area.
  • LEASH LAW. On public lands, animals must be kept on a leash not longer than six feet and secured to a fixed object or under the control of a person, or otherwise physically restricted at all times.

California Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle (ROV) Rules

  • MINORS MUST BE SUPERVISED. Operator of a ROV shall be at least 16 years of age, or be directly supervised in the vehicle by a parent or guardian or adult authorized by the parent or guardian.
  • SEAT BELTS ARE REQUIRED. Seat/shoulder belts or a safety harness are required to be worn when ROV is in motion.
  • OHV’S ON ROADWAYS. No person shall operate or drive an off-highway vehicle on a roadway, except to cross at an angle of approximately 90 degrees and in a quick and safe manner.
  • HELMET USAGE. All persons, regardless of age, who operate or ride all terrain vehicles (ATV’s) on public lands in California must wear an approved safety helmet.
  • PARENTAL SUPERVISION. No person under the age of 14 shall operate an all-terrain vehicle unless that person satisfies the requirements of VC 38503 (safety certification) and in addition, is accompanied by and under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian (VC 38504). Neither a parent or guardian of a child who is under 14 years of age, nor an adult who is authorized by the parent or guardian to supervise that child shall grant permission to, or knowingly allow, that child to operate an ATV in a manner that violates Section 38504.
  • REQUIRED RIDER SAFETY TRAINING. No person under the age of 18 shall operate an all-terrain vehicle(ATV) unless he/she has received the safety course in this state or another state or is under the direct supervision of an adult who has the appropriate safety certification in his/her possession (VC 38503). For ATV certification information, please contact the ATV Safety Institute (ASI) at 800-887-2887.
  • NOISE RESTRICTIONS. Noise emissions of off-highway vehicles shall be limited to not more than 96 A-weighted decibels (dbA) if manufactured on or after January 1, 1986, and not more than 101 dbA if manufactured prior to January 1, 1986. Other restrictions may apply. Please visit CA OHMVRD web site for more information. Sirens (VC 38375) An off-highway motor vehicle, except an authorized emergency vehicle, shall not be equipped with a siren. A person driving an off-highway motor vehicle, except the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle as permitted by 21055, shall not use a siren.
  • CARRYING OF PASSENGERS. A person operating a recreational off-highway vehicle with a model year of 2014 or later on lands, as described in Section 38001, shall not allow a passenger to occupy a separate seat location not designed and provided by the manufacturer for a passenger. (b) Seats that are installed in a separate seat location not designed and provided by the manufacturer for a passenger in a vehicle with a model year of 2013 or earlier on lands, as described in Section 38001, may be occupied by a passenger if the occupant of the seat is fully contained inside of the vehicle’s rollover protection structure at all times while the vehicle is being operated. Passengers must be able to grasp the handhold while properly restrained with back against the seat back.
  • OPERATING AN OHV UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL AND/OR DRUGS. It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or any drug, or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug, to drive a vehicle. Driving while license is suspended/revoked off road as well as on road is against the law.
  • SPEED LAWS. 1. Basic speed law: Don’t operate an off-highway vehicle faster than it is safe for conditions (VC 38305). The speed limit within 50 feet of any campground, campsite, or concentration of people or animals shall be under 15 m.p.h. unless changed as authorized by the code.
  • REGISTRATION. 1. Vehicles operated on federal and state highways, county roads, and BLM’s Gecko Road, Gray’s Well Road, and McCain Valley must be licensed for highway use. 2. Off highway vehicles owned by California residents must be registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles and display a valid Green Sticker or Red Sticker Vehicle Identification Tag (VC 38020,38010) in a clearly visible location on the vehicle (VC 38170). View Red Sticker riding schedule. 3. Off highway vehicles that do not have a valid registration or permit from the owners home state (incl. Mexico and Canada) will be required to purchase a California nonresident permit (sticker) through selected vendors in CA, NV, AZ (view vendor list). Permits may also be purchased from CA Dept. of Parks and Recreation 916 324-4442
  • REQUIRED EQUIPMENT. According to California State law, any off highway vehicle must be equipped with an approved muffler, brakes, and spark arrestor. Headlight and taillight are required for operation at night. Tail lights must include at least one red light.
  • LIGHT PROHIBITION. A person shall not display a flashing or steady burning red or blue warning light on an off-highway motor vehicle except as permitted by Section 21055 or when an extreme hazard exists.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE. No person shall operate on off-highway vehicle in a manner likely to cause environmental damage.
  • FIREARMS. California State law – Firearms must not be discharged within 150 yards of residences, buildings, campsites, occupied areas, recreational areas, or domestic livestock. No shooting from or across any road. No shooting from a vehicle. It is unlawful to carry a loaded weapon in a vehicle.

California OHV Laws

OHV Registration Requirements (explains the red/green stickers)

Nonresident OHV Use Permits

California Vehicle Code Division 16.5

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