— WHERE TO RIDE —
Getting sideways with your UTV is always fun, but it’s even more fun in deep sand. California is famous for its big dune weekends at Glamis/Buttercup, where 250,000– 300,000 people converge for fun, family and fellowship. California also boasts Dumont Dunes and the Oceano Dunes SVRA on Pismo Beach. While Glamis and Dumont have a riding season from October to Easter in April, Pismo is more of a year-round riding area, like the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Utah’s Sand Hollow State Park and Coral Pink Sand Dunes are two nice riding areas that are hot in the summer (although not as scorching as Dumont or Glamis), but great in the winter.
Some dune enthusiasts have a winter dune tour along Interstate 15 from California to Idaho. Starting at Dumont, which is about 33 miles off of I-15 northwest of Baker, California, the tour stops at Sand Hollow State Park at Hurricane, Utah, and maybe detours through Zion National Park to Coral Pink, before ending up at St. Anthony, Idaho. Idaho Dunes covers 10,600 acres of nice-sized dunes and bowls with names like Thunder Mountain, Choke Cherry, Dead Horse Bowl, and Egin Lake. Idaho Dunes RV is at 1695 East 500 North, St. Anthony, ID 83445; (208) 624-3275; www.idahodunesrv.com. Every Labor Day weekend this system hosts the Idaho Dunes UTV Invasion.
There are at least 14 states with rideable dune systems, and California has 13 of the 43 dune systems open for riding. As huge as Texas is, there are only two small dune systems: Kermit, 10 miles north of Kermit, and Red Sands, 10 miles east of El Paso. You can even rent ATVs at Red Sands. Call (915) 855-4288 or go by 15698 Montana Avenue, El Paso, TX 79935. Here are some other opportunities to get sideways in the dunes.
CINDER HILLS OHV AREA
Once, on our way to the Moab Rally on the Rocks, which has its own small sand playground, we passed Cinder Mountain outside of Flagstaff, Arizona, on Highway 89. This OHV area is actually decomposed volcanic cinders and covers 13,500 acres. It’s at 6900 feet elevation, so it’s a great place to ride most of the year.
DUNING IN NEW MEXICO
New Mexico has three sand dune OHV areas operated by the BLM. Farmington is in the northwest corner of New Mexico, and its Dunes OHV Area has about 800 acres of dunes, sand washes, trails and hill-climbs. Southern New Mexico has the Red Sands OHV Area 20 miles south of Alamogordo, and it has about 100 miles of trails through sand washes and small rolling dunes. Most famous for its alien crash site, Roswell has a dune area 36 miles east on Highway 380. The Mescalero Sands North Dune OHV Area has 610 acres of small dunes open for OHV recreation. Check them out at www.b4uride.com.
MORE DUNING IN UTAH & NEVADA
Located on the “Loneliest Road in America,” Sand Mountain is 25 miles east of Fallon, Nevada, on Highway 50. This huge sand mountain is surrounded by smaller dunes and many miles of sand washes and trails. Backtrack to Fallon and take I-80 east to Knolls, Utah, which has 3,600 acres of dunes and sand washes. Or, head east on Highway 50, which turns into I-70. Take that to Exit 175 and head south on Ruby Ranch Road for 12.3 miles to the White Wash Sand Dunes.
DUNES IN COLORADO AND KANSAS?
In far northern Colorado, Walden has a dune system 15 miles to the northeast. The Walden Dunes are located at 8500 feet, and the OHV area covers 700 acres off of BLM Road 2509. Or, keep going east on Highway 50 to western Kansas’ Syracuse Sand Dune Park, located along the Arkansas River. This system covers 1300 acres along Highway 25 at River Road. So, this winter could be one to do your own dune tour and get sideways at any or all of the dozen or so sand dune systems. Don’t forget your paddles and whip flags!