Here are a few things you will need to know to recreate at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreational Area. (ISDRA)

First a couple of Rules of thumb for the ISDRA. they may be common sense, but worth pointing out.

  • NEVER dune alone. ALWAYS dune with at least one other person in or on another OHV. The ISDRA is a huge place and if you break down or get injured, the chances of someone finding you in the deep dunes grow proportionately to how deep into the dunes you go.
  • ALWAYS carry extra water. If you break down or get stuck you could become dehydrated quickly. This is especially true during the day of the warm months at the beginning and end of the season. October & November and April & May.
  • At night, the temperature can drop into the low 40's (sometimes lower) during the mid-season, December to February.
  • It is highly recommended that you recreate with a Global Positioning System (GPS) and make sure you take a cell phone with you in case of emergencies.

The ISDRA is managed by the El Centro Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management. Here is a link to their website: ECFO BLM

Now for the basic rules:

  • You will need a Use Permit to recreate at the dunes. For the most current information regarding the permits, visit this link
  • Your OHV will need to be registered. You must carry the registration with the OHV. Copies of the documents are OK.
  • If your OHV is registered in California, it will need either a Red Sticker or Green Sticker (more about stickers can be found in the rules links posted below).
  • If your OHV is registered in another state, California may or may not recognize that state's registration. The BLM and ICSO does recognize Arizona OHV registration.
  • If California does not recognize the OHV registration from your home state, you can purchase a California non-resident permit (sticker) (more about stickers can be found in the rules links posted below).
  • All OHV's are required to have a whip mast with a 6" x 12" Red or Orange Flag at the top. The mast tip must be 8 foot above the ground.

Links to the official rules for the ISDRA:


The American Sand Association is very concerned with Safety. Over the years the ASA has worked with many organizations and businesses to put safety information into the hands of duners.

Our "DUNE SMART" Safety book is very popular and helps give the first time and old time user a good overview on safety in the dunes.

Dune safety brochure cover

You can view and download this 24-page book online by clicking HERE

Also partnering with the Tread Lightly! non-profit organization we have jointly developed "A Guide to Responsible Motorized Vehicle Use in Sand Dunes"

Tread Lightly sand duning booklet

You can view and download this 28-page book online by clicking HERE

Other dune safety tips offered from Tread Lightly!

Sand Duning Tips brochure: CLICK HERE
TL KIDS Sand Dune Riders brochure: CLICK HERE

You can purchase copies of these on the Tread Lightly! website:
These are also available at any show on our calendar or when you order any merchandise from our online store (please put "Tread Lightly Books" in the comment field).

Back to Top