Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area

Glamis, Gordons Well, Buttercup, Ogilby

Imperial Sand Dunes - Glamis

Name: Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area

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Southeastern California, east of Brawley, CA & west of Yuma AZ


The Imperial Sand Dunes are the largest sand dunes open to off-highway vehicle use in the United States. The dunes begin 10 miles southeast of Niland and stretch all the way into Mexico, over 40 miles away. The Dunes vary in width from about a quarter mile at the top end of the Mammoth Wash area, to about 5 miles in width below Highway 78. The Algodones Sand Dune system covers 1,000 square miles, making it one of the largest dune complexes in North America. There is over 150,000 acres designated as open or having limited use and about 32,000 acres are designated Wilderness (North Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area) and closed to OHVs (mostly north of Hwy. 78). Although visited year round, during the summer months you need to be prepared for temperatures consistently exceeding 100 and reaching 120 on occasion. However, like most of the California desert, the humidity is low and the nights cool down considerably. Since the annual rain fall is less than 2", the only winter hazard is blowing sand. Winter temperatures are typically in the 60-70 range. 

Glamis is considered the northern part of the OHV area at the Imperial Sand Dunes. The south part, near Interstate-8 includes Gordon's Well, Buttercup and Ogilby.

Busiest weekends are: Thanksgiving (160,000), New Years, President's, Halloween, Martin Luther King and Easter (35,000) - 2004 numbers.

Elevation -  200 - 500 ft.

Judge Illston Ruling - Imperial Sand Dunes Closure (pdf)


Map of Imperial County

Directions to Glamis

  • From Los Angeles
    - Take the I-10 past Palm Springs and Indio to the 86S Expressway. 
    - Take the 86S past the Salton Sea were it will join with the 78.
    - Continue past Westmoreland and Brawley. 
    - Stay on the Hwy 78 out of Brawley  (do not take 86 out of town)
    - Hwy 78 merges with Hwy 115
    - As Hwy 78/115 makes a big sweeping right turn, Turn left on Hwy 78
    - Continue on the Hwy 78 to the Imperial Sand Dunes ~19 miles
    - The first road you hit to the right is Gecko Rd. 
  • From San Diego
    - Take the I-8 east to El Centro.
    - Take the Hwy 111 north
    - Optional: You can turn on Hwy 115 (bypasses Brawley), then right on Hwy 78
    - Turn right on Hwy 78  
    - Hwy 78 merges with Hwy 115
    - As Hwy 78/115 makes a big sweeping right turn, Turn left on Hwy 78
    - Continue on the Hwy 78 to the Imperial Sand Dunes ~19 miles
    - The first road you hit to the right is Gecko Rd. 
  • From Phoenix
    - Take 1-10 West out of Arizona to Blythe
    - As you pass Blythe,  look for the California Hwy 78 exit (Neighbors Blvd.).  Exit here and at the top of the ramp turn left (South).
    - Continue South on Hwy 78 through Ripley and Palo Verde (~ 50 miles to Glamis)
    - After you cross the railroad tracks, you will see Glamis Beach Store.

Directions to Gordons Well (Dune Buggy Flats)

  • I-8  to the Gordons Well Exit.  At the T, turn right.  Cross bridge over the canal and you're at Dune Buggy Flats

Directions to Buttercup, Midway, Grays Well

  •  I-8  to the Grays Well Exit. Buttercup is to the left. Midway and Grays Well are to the right on Grays Well Rd.

Directions to Ogilby

  • Take the Ogilby Road (S34) exit from Interstate 8. Continue north for about  3 miles About 100ft before the railroad tracks, take a left. Then follow the power lines, curve to the right. There's a small sign. Keep going, it gets narrow and soft. Head for the tower. There is a BLM pay station at the camp.

Camping Areas - ISDRA

GPS Coordinates - ISDRA

Area Managed By: Bureau of Land Management - El Centro Field Office

Fees: $25/week or $90/year











Other Information:


Aerial/Satellite Photos

Imperial Sand Dunes Satelillte Photo
Click to enlarge (large file)


Glamis Weather   Buttercup Weather


  • For all emergencies dial 911

  • Cahuilla Ranger Station: Phone: 760-344-3919

  • Pioneers Memorial Hospital, Brawley

Public Telephone Locations:

  • Cahuilla Ranger Station Parking Lot, Gecko Road
  • Glamis Store, Highway 78 & Wash Rd.

ATV Rental:

  • Get-N-Dirty - Brawley (877-438-6938)
  • Jet-Rent - Yuma (928-314-4245)

Off Road Parts & Supplies (ATV, Motorcycle & Sand Rail)

  • Sweet Maries - Gecko Road & Hwy 78

  • Gilmore Offroad - Glamis Flats

  • Krazy Keven - Glamis Flats

  • Pair-A-Dice - Gordons Well

  • Imperial Valley Cycle Center - El Centro

  • Honda of Imperial Valley - El Centro

  • Threat Racing - El Centro

  • Liberty Motorsports - Yuma

  • KD Cycle - Yuma

  • Off Road Buggy Supply - Yuma

RV Parts & Supplies

  • Brawley Trailer Supply - Brawley
  • Citywide RV Supplies - Yuma
  • Hilco RV Supplies & Service


Annual Dunes Cleanup Info

Access Organizations - Help Keep Our Dunes Open!

Access Issues

Peirson's Milk Vetch - A lawsuit was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility in March 2000. The suit alleged BLM violated the federal Endangered Species Act by not initiating Section 7 consultation with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on the effects of the California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA) Plan on a number of threatened and endangered species. BLM agreed to the interim actions in the settlement agreements to avoid an injunction on the CDCA Plan, which would have resulted in a complete closure of all activities on BLM-managed public lands within the CDCA. BLM implemented interim measures to further protect threatened and endangered plant and animal species throughout the California Desert Conservation Area (CDCA) as agreed to in the  negotiated settlement. Restrictions on vehicle use in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, which have been in place since November 2000. BLM implemented the second stipulation with the interim closures at the 134,300-acre Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area beginning in October 2000.  The four closure areas encompass approximately 49,300 acres and protect essential habitat of the Peirson's milk-vetch while allowing off-highway vehicle recreation to continue in the more heavily used areas of the Dunes.  The Peirson's milk-vetch was listed as a threatened species by the FWS in 1998. 

Peirson's Milk Vetch
Peirson's Milk Vetch

Adaptive Management Area - Information

If all goes as planned the Adaptive Management Area will be open for access in October 2005. This area will be available by permit only.

Adaptive Management Area Post   Adaptive Management Area Signs

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