Also known as the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA), the Glamis Dunes are the section of the Algodones Dunes operated by the Bureau of Land Management. Extending for more than 40 miles along the eastern edge of the Imperial Valley in a band averaging five miles wide, they are the largest expanse of dunes in California, covering more than 160,000 acres. These gorgeous dunes, which stand over 300 feet above the surrounding desert floor in some sections, have served as a movie location for various movies including the Scorpion King, Lawrence of Arabia and Star Wars, among others. Additionally, the Glamis Dunes are popular holiday destination, especially among RVers and off-roading enthusiasts.

Recreational Activities and Fees

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) permits recreational activities such as RV camping and offroading on about two thirds of the land, whereas protected areas and wilderness occupy the rest of the land (about 35,000 acres). To organize competitive and commercial off-highway vehicle events such as closed-course racing, hill climbs and sand drags in the dunes, you would need to get a Special Recreation Use Permit from the BLM. You would also require permits for mobile vending, promotional events, and commercial filming/photography.

Off-highway vehicle events and camping attract big crowds to the Glamis Dunes every year. In fact, over 100,000 people typically visit the Glamis Dunes during a major holiday such as Thanksgiving weekend. Since the desert heat can be brutal, especially in the summer, it is best to visit Glamis Dunes between October and May when temperatures are milder. From October 1 to April 15 each year, visitors to the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA), Mammoth Wash Open Area, the North Algodones Dunes Wilderness and the area within one mile of the ISDRA boundary have to pay a recreation fee of $50 per week or buy a season pass for $150. You can purchase these passes and permits online, onsite or from local shops.

OHVs Regulations and Requirements

All off-highways vehicles (OHVs) in the ISDRA must comply with all the relevant California laws. In particularly, the BLM requires all OHVs owned by California residents to be registered with the California DMV and display a valid registration certificate (“Green Sticker.”) Additionally, all OHVs must be fitted with mufflers and Forest Service approved spark arrestors. On the safety front, you must wear an approved safety helmet when riding an all-terrain vehicle in the dunes. Additionally, all OHVs must have a whip mast extending at least eight feet above the ground with a red or orange flag attached to the tip of the whip mast in order to improve visibility in the dunes. Driving under influence of alcohol (DUI) is prohibited in the dunes and California DUI laws apply to all vehicles in the dunes.

RV Camping

Dry camping is a popular recreational activity in the Glamis Dunes and the surrounding areas including Mammoth Wash to the northern side and Buttercup Valley to the southern side. RV and vehicle camping is permitted in all areas open to vehicle use such as the BLM’s Gecko and Roadrunner campgrounds. The BLM charges no fee for camping. Camping space is typically allocated on a first come, first served basis. This means that reserving camping space is prohibited.

The Glamis Dunes or the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area is a popular location for off-highway vehicle events. Additionally, it is a good location for RV camping, especially between October and May when the climate is mild. If you’re looking for .


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(909) 451-3337