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Where to Ride Sand Dunes in California (The Top 5 Locations)

Where to Ride Sand Dunes in California (The Top 5 Locations)

You will find some of the best dunes for riding in California. These are the perfect places for your off-road adventures and locations to ride the sand dunes in California.

California actually has some of the most popular Dune riding areas in the entire United States. People travel from other states just for a chance to ride at some of the best dunes on the West Coast.

Here are all the 5 best places to ride the Sand Dunes in California

1. Dumont Dunes

Location

Located in the southeastern southern part of California. It is about a 3-hour drive from Los Angeles. 

Cost

A riding permit is required for every vehicle entering the Dumont Dunes area. Weekly riding permits can be purchased on-site via credit card at the pay machine.

The cost for a weekly pass is $30 per week on a non-holiday weekend and $40 per week that includes a holiday weekend

Riding Area

The Dumont Sand Dunes consists of two large riding areas. The main riding area is wide open and has some tall dunes. This is where you will find competition hill which is the biggest dune at Dumont. It is over 450 ft tall.

You will find many people racing up and down this hill. Dumont Dunes are known for having large steep dunes, big climbs, big bowls, and flowing transitions. 

If you are less experienced or have kids, you might want to go to the other dune area called the Little Dumont riding area. This area is just south of the main riding. There is a little trail that connects the two, but it is fairly long, so dirt tires might be recommended for using this trail. 

More Info

Make sure you bring everything that you will need since the nearest stores and gas stations are over 30 miles away. 

You can dry camp right on the dunes for a maximum of 14 consecutive days. There are no campground spots to reserve and no hookups. You just find any open space to camp. 

Dumont Dunes can get busy on holiday weekends as this is a really popular riding area. Since it is located in the desert it gets really hot in the spring and summer. Normally over 100 degrees.

It might be best to plan your trip October – April when it is cooler. Dumont dunes is a top place to ride the sand dunes in California.

For more information visit the Dumont Dunes website.

A sand buggy and quads riding a big dune at Dumont Dunes in California.

2. Oceano (Pismo Beach)

Location

The Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) is located right off highway 1 in southern California three miles south of Pismo beach.

Cost

A day-use pass is $5 and an overnight pass is $10

Reservations are recommended and must be made at least two days in advance of the arrival date. 

Also, when making your reservations sure that you don’t use the word “Pismo” or you will access information about Pismo state beach, a different area. 

Riding Area

Oceano Dunes SVRA is the only large riding place you can ride and camp right on the ocean in California. There is also a dune riding area right next to the beach.

The dunes at Ocean are not large and you won’t find huge hill climbs as you will at other dune areas, but it’s a fun place to ride. 

More Info

There are no camping hookups but you can dry camp right on the beach. You do have to drive through soft sand to access the camping locations so you will need 4×4.

Since it is right on the beach it can be overcast and windy most days, so make sure you dress warmly. 

They also close down a large portion of the riding area from March 1st, until September 30th every year due to the Snowy Plover breeding season. 

The Ocean Dunes SVRA is a popular area and it gets really busy on weekends and around holidays. Try to avoid visiting at these times if you don’t like crowds. 

This dune riding area is known for some of the most amazing beach sunsets and there are also other activities you can enjoy such as swimming, surfing, fishing, and hiking. 

For more information visit the Oceano Dunes website.

A Jeep driving on the beach at Oceano Sand Dunes a place to ride the Dunes in California.

3. Imperial Sand Dunes (Glamis)

Location

The Imperial Sand Dunes are located in the southeasternsouth eastern part of California. From San Diego, it takes a little over 2 hours to drive there, and from Yuma Arizona, it’s a half-hour. 

Cost

Permits to get into the dunes are $35 per week if purchased in advance and $50 per week when purchased at the dunes. There is also the option to buy a seasonal permit for $150

Riding Area

The Imperial Sand Dunes, also known as Glamis Dunes are the largest mass of Sand in California. Since it is so large it can be easy to get lost, so you might want to bring a GPS. It is said that about 1 million people visit Glamis every year. 

You will find miles and miles of riding, as well as big dunes. There are also many events and competitions held here throughout the year. 

You will only want to be riding at Glamis from October to April because it gets really hot during the summer months. It can get to over 110 degrees. 

More Info

You can sand camp on the dunes, but there are no hookups so you will be dry camping. Make sure that you bring everything that you need including gas since the nearest gas station is about 30 minutes away in Brawley, CA. 

There is a little store at the dunes called Glamis Beach Store, where they sell food, parts, and drinks. There are also sometimes vendors set up near the store where they sell T-shirts,, food and other stuff. 

For more information visit the Imperial Dunes website.

4. Rasor Dunes

Location

The Rasor OHV Area is located in Southern California, about 15 miles from the city of Baker. It is about a 2-hour drive from Los Angeles. This small dune area is about one hour from the Dumont Dunes. 

Cost 

There is no cost to visit the Rasor Dunes. Day use and camping are both free.

Riding Area 

The riding area at Rasor Dunes is overall not very big. There is some sand to ride on but it’s very limited. There is one area of taller steep dunes, and the rest is an open flat desert style of riding. You will find rolling hills, open valleys, and sand washes. 

More Info

Since it is not that big of an area there are fewer crowds. It might be a good place to take the kids to camp and ride. 

Dispersed camping is allowed for up to 14 days. There are no facilities or hookups. Also, make sure you bring everything you will need since there are no stores or gas stations nearby. 

While this isn’t a large dune riding area like many of the other places to ride the sand dunes in California, it would be a fun day trip if you are already in the area or if you are looking for a place to ride without big crowds. 

It also gets really hot here in the summer so the best times to visit would be October through April. 

For more information visit the Rasor Dunes website.

5. Samoa Dunes

Location

The Samoa Dunes recreation area is located on the Northern California Coast about 15 minutes outside the town of Eureka California. The riding area is surrounded by the pacific ocean and the Humboldt Bay. 

Cost

It is FREE to access the recreation area for day use. If you decided to camp in the nearby Samoa Boat Ramp camping area there is a $25 fee per night. 

Riding Area

The Samoa Dunes is a very small 75-acre area also known as the Eureka Dunes. It is open to OHV use, but there are no real dunes or hills. The sand riding area mostly is just a place to ride along the beach. 

More Info

This riding area isn’t large, and it is just beach riding with no dunes, but it would still be a fun place to come camp by the beach and to let the kids ride. 

There is an unloading ramp, restrooms, tables, and cooking grills. In addition to riding, you can hike, explore the beach, fish, and sightsee.

You can visit at any part of the year. You should always plan and check the weather first. Since it is right on the coast it can sometimes be windy, rainy, and cold even during the summer months. 

For more information visit the Samoa Dunes website.

Final Thoughts

There are some great places to ride the dunes in California. From small riding areas like Samoa and Rasor to beach riding like Oceano Dunes and some of the largest areas like Dumont and Imperial (Glamis).

I hope that this list helps you to plan your trip to the dunes and know where to ride the dunes in California.

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