Overview Of Sand Mountain Recreation Area
- Open: Year Round
- Latitude / Longitude: 39.293137, -118.405341
- Usage: Heavy
- Managed by: BLM
- Fee: Passes can be purchased onsite
- $40 for 1-7 days
- $90 for an annual pass
- Camping: Yes
- Primitive camping at the base of the dune
- 6 vault toilets
- No water
- No amenities
Location: Central Western Nevada
25 miles south east of Fallon, NV on U.S. 50 on the north side of the highway.
Sand Mountain Sand Dunes
This 4,795 acre park is a popular OHV area just outside of Fallon NV.
These ATV dunes see a good amount of visitors with about 50,000 – 70,000 off roaders making their way to this fairly remote OHV area.
Sand Mountain has it all – big bowls, steep climbs, rolling hills, jumps, desert trails and wide open flat space.
You’ll find excellent and varied riding terrain for riders of all skill levels.
The tallest main dune of the Sand Dune OHVA is aptly named Sand Mountain. At 3.5 miles long and 1 mile wide, it rises an impressive 600 feet from the desert floor.
The large dune area is open to all OHV vehicles including ATVs, motorcycles, sand rails, dune buggies and side by sides.
In addition to the dunes, there are also 23 miles of designated trails. The trail system was established in 2008 to prevent environmentally sensitive areas from being overrun and destroyed by off roading.
The trails help preserve the Kearny Buckwheat habitat and protect the Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly which can be found only in this area.
Although this region is considered “high desert”, it’s not quite high enough to be cool in the summer.
At just under 4,000 feet of elevation, temperatures during the summer regularly make it into the high 90s and low 100s. This makes summer riding out of the question, unless you plan for an early morning ride.
Riding is possible year round.
This area does get some snow in the winter, but only about 7 inches a year, so it doesn’t stick around or accumulate. Even without snow though, expect temperatures in the 20s – 30s in the winter. It makes for some cold riding.
The shoulder seasons are the best for riding with late October probably being the best. Halloween is VERY VERY busy with Labor Day running a close second.
So, if you’re looking to avoid crowds and partying, plan a visit Monday – Thursday and definitely stay away on holidays.
Also within this recreation area, but outside the OHV use area, is a fenced 40 acre tract that is designated the Sand Springs Desert Study Area and includes a Pony Express historical site dating from 1860. There is a short 1/2 mile interpretive loop trail for exploring the study area and the Pony Express site.
It’s hard to imagine Pony Express riders making their way across this inhospitable terrain, but not only did they do it, they did it at breakneck speed.
BLM Website: Sand Mountain Recreation Area
For more great ATVing in Nevada check out the Crescent Sand Dunes in Tonopah, Big Dune in Amargosa and the Winnemucca Sand Dunes.
If you’re looking for something a little closer to home, the Vegas Sand Dunes offer some great riding just outside North Las Vegas.
Singing Sand Dune
Sand Mountain 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 Big Dune, Amargosa Valley NV and Crescent Dunes, Tonopah NV. Both of these other dunes are also OHV areas, providing excellent off roading opportunities.
- 25 miles from Fallon Nevada
- No water
- One of only about 30 worldwide “singing” sand dunes
Rules & Regulations
- All OHVs are required to be registered.Out of state vehicle registration is accepted and legal providing the OHV is in the state for less than 15 days.
- If your vehicle is licensed for on road travel, you do not need to purchase an OHV sticker for off road use.
- Whip flag is required
- 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 in camping areas
- Discharge any firearms, fireworks or projectiles is not allowed
- The BLM forbids and/or strongly discourages the use of glass containers
- 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 Off-Highway Vehicles Program
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
Featured image by Travel Nevada | Flickr