We don’t like to brag, but here at Wild ATV, we’re sand dune experts.
Don’t believe me, check out our ATV sand dunes category for a list of all the sand dunes in the US that are open to off roading.
We cover the big boys as well as the remote and virtually unknown sand dunes.
These are our favorites.
Epic ATV Sand Dunes
#1 Glamis Sand Dunes / Imperial Sand Dunes – Glamis CA
- Permits required October 1 – April 15
- $35 per week (if purchased in advance)
- $50 per week (if purchased onsite)
- $150 season permits
- Camping Fees: Free (dispersed /14 day limit)
- Open: Year round
- Amenities: Camping, vault toilets, onsite management/law, vendor’s area, food
When people think of off road sand dunes, they inevitably think of Glamis. These are probably the most well known dunes in the OHV community.
At 40 miles long and 5 miles wide, there’s some serious riding to be had here. Some of the dunes can get up to 300” high, so the hill climbs are epic.
The biggest and baddest dunes include: The Ceiling Hill, The Wall Hill, China Wall Hill, Lizard Hill, Brawley Slide Hill and Patton Valley. These are rated as black diamond advanced level rides.
But, riders of all skill levels can enjoy these dunes. There’s plenty of bowls, open flat sand and fun smaller hills.
Interchangeably referred to as both Glamis ATV Sand Dunes and Imperial Sand Dunes, they’re one in the same.
Twenty some odd years ago, Glamis Sand Dunes had a bit of a wild west vibe – aggressive riding, speeding and overall recklessness was rampant. But, law enforcement efforts were stepped up and now Glamis is a whole lot safer.
Even though these are remote dunes, they have more services than most. There is a vendor’s row with all sorts of basic necessities such as water, ice, food, clothes and parts.
Even vehicle rentals are available onsite.
BLM: Glamis Sand Dunes
#2 Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area – Florence Oregon
- Riding Fees: $10 ATV Operating Permit + $5 fee per vehicle to use the staging area. Passes such as Inter-agency Pass, America The Beautiful Pass, National Park Pass or the Northwest Forest Pass can be used for the $5 staging/parking fee.
- Camping Fees:
- Sand Camping: $10
- Campgrounds: $25
- Open: Year round
- Amenities: Camping, onsite management/law
This is one of my personal favorites. I’m a huge fan of the Oregon coast. And not only for riding.
The Oregon coast is a rugged gem for traveler’s of all sorts.
If you’re looking for warm sunny days, working on your tan and relaxing in the sun, then you’re going to need to head a whole lot more south.
Even in the summer, the weather alternates from comfortably coolish to downright chilly and windy. A 75 degree day is considered a heat wave.
This makes the Oregon Sand Dunes a great place for summer riding. It’s even great in the winter if you’d like the place to yourself and don’t mind a bit of a chill.
These dunes are fairly popular, so they do get a fair bit of use especially on the weekends. And especially the middle dune area which is the most popular because it has the largest dune hills.
At 47 miles long and 1 mile wide, these dunes are huge. About half of this area is open to OHVing with three separate riding areas featuring large dunes, ocean front riding and sandy trails.
Riders looking for an adrenaline rush will love the action on the big hills. Families and folks looking for a bit less excitement will enjoy riding on the wet sand next to the surf or leisurely riding the trails that wind through the dunes.
US Forest Service: Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
#3 St. Anthony Sand Dunes – St. Anthony ID
- Riding Fees: $5.00 per vehicle/per day / $60.00 season pass
- Camping Fees: $25+
- Open: The area around the open sand riding area of St. Anthony Dunes closes from 1/1 – 5/1. The small dunes east of Egin Lakes Campground to Red Rd are open year-round, but are covered in snow by the end of December.
- Amenities: Camping, onsite management/law, visitor station, store
Beautiful white quartz sand, thousands of acres open to off roading and dunes over 400” high make this a premier riding destination.
Throw in excellent camping with ride in ride out access, hook ups, laundry and showers and it’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular ATV sand dunes in the US.
Egin Lakes Campground is a BLM managed campground with ride in ride out access to the dunes. Campsites run $25 – $60.
This campground is closed from 11/1 – 4/1, or as weather allows.
Egin Lakes is all first come first serve. There are 48 sites, all with electric. A dump station is available for a $10 fee.
If the campground is full, dispersed camping is allowed along portions of Red Road.
Or, if you’d like full hookups, laundry facilities and a shower, check out the privately owned Sand Hills Resort or Idaho Dunes RV. Both resort have ride in, ride out access, but with a few more amenities.
Sand Hills resort has full hookups for $45 – $65 a night. Idaho Dunes RV has full hookups $54 – $94. Both also offer tenting, and partial hook ups.
One nice feature of these ATV sand dunes, is that they’re only 15 minutes from St. Anthony Idaho. It’s not a big town, but it has everything you need – a couple motels, a couple restaurants, gas and a grocery store.
If Broulim’s Grocery Store has fresh brisket available at the deli – buy it! You’re welcome.
During the winter, 2,500 elk, 1,500 mule deer and 500 moose use the dunes and surrounding area as a winter habitat. This is why it’s closed during the winter.
Join the hundreds of antler hunters in the early spring who scour the area looking for sheds.
#4 Silver Lake State Park – Mears MI
- Riding Fees:
- Mi Residents:
- ORV Stickers: $36.25
- + Recreation Passport: $6 motorcycles/$12 vehicles (buy in advance)
- or Annual Passport: $11 motorcycles/$17 vehicles (buy at the park)
- Out of State:
- ORV Stickers: $36.25
- + Daily Recreation Passport: $9.00 (buy at the park)
- or Annual Passport: $34.00 (buy at the park)
- Mi Residents:
- Camping: Available, but not ride in, ride out
- Open: April 1 – Oct. 31
- Amenities: Onsite management/law, visitor center, food truck
These are the only ATV sand dunes in the region, so that makes them super popular.
Popular = Crowds
But, don’t let the crowds keep you away. This is a special location on the shores of two lakes, the epic Lake Michigan and the charming Silver Lake.
The dunes are 2,000 acres with 450 of those open to OHVing.
This is a family friendly destination with lots of kid friendly activities going on during the summer: concerts, bumper cars, boating, swimming, dune tours and mini golf.
If you don’t have a ride, ATV rentals are easily available.
Lots of motels, cabins, vacation rentals and campgrounds are peppered around Silver Lake, so accommodations are easy to find. I’d definitely recommend making reservations.
The only thing I don’t like about Silver Lake Dunes is the parking and dune access. It’s a bit of a to-do.
Saturdays, Sundays and holidays they use a parking lot voucher system.
None of the campground are ride-in / ride out, and the area isn’t “ATV friendly”. There are no paths or routes for getting around without having to trailer.
#5 Little Sahara Recreation Area – Eureka UT
- Riding Fees:
- $18 Vehicle/night
- $120 Annual Pass
- $60 for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities
- Camping Fees: Free camping with entry fee
- Open: Year round (limited services in winter)
- Amenities: Camping, visitor center, onsite management/law, 2 water fill stations, vault and flush toilets, dump station
Utah is one of the best states for off roading, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they also have two excellent sand dune riding areas: Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park and Little Sahara Recreation Area.
The big draw at the Little Sahara Sand Dunes is Sand Mountain. At 700’ tall, this is a monster climb.
But Little Sahara has a lot more to offer than Sand Mountain with 60,000 acres of sand and sage brush flats.
There’s small dunes, rolling hills, bowls, open sand riding and even dirt trails around Black Mountain – beginners to experts will find plenty of terrain to keep them happy.
There are 3 developed campgrounds and a dispersed camping area around Sand Mountain. It’s dry camping – no hookups, but there are flush toilets, drinking water and a dump station available.
There are a total of 255 improved sites, 40 toilets and 2 potable water sites. All with ride in ride out access.
300,000 people a year visit the dunes. Easter, Memorial Day and Labor Day can have in excess of 20,000 visitors over the weekend.
This is a popular place. And, there’s a reason it’s so busy – it’s awesome!
#6 Crescent Sand Dunes – Tonopah NV
- Riding Fees: None
- Camping Fees: None
- Open: Year round
- Amenities: None
This is the place to go when you’re looking to get away from it all.
Located between Las Vegas and Reno, about 75 miles from the California from the border, this is a remote desert dune.
Riding these dunes is FUN. Varied terrain and soft sand make this an excellent off the radar destination.
You’ll need a lot of horsepower to get up these soft sand hills.
With 3,000 acres and some big hills, riders can enjoy steep climbs, bowls, rolling hills and trails through the surrounding desert.
If you go Monday – Thursday, it’s likely that you’ll have the place to yourself. On weekends you may have a few other campers join you. Holidays and 3 day weekends have a big spike in traffic with maybe 20 or so other trailers, but it’s still not as buy as other places.
Crescent ATV Sand Dunes are located at just over 6,000’, it’s not as hot as the lower desert areas, but still not ideal for summer riding. In the summer, temperatures are still in the high 80s low 90s.
Nevada.gov: Crescent Sand Dunes