TMS Blog

Bucket List Off-Road Destinations: Glamis

Written by David Glassman

If you are seeking the ultimate off-road destination to exercise your UTV, look no farther than Glamis in the desert east of San Diego, CA. Ready to satisfy your desire to fill your vacation with heart-pounding thrills, you’ll be able to test the limits of your machine under the vast open skies of the West while clambering over a seemingly endless sea of sand.

Dominating Dunes for Tons of Fun

Glamis Sand Dunes is the common name for the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area located in Southern California. Right on the border of Arizona, California, and Mexico, it’s operated by the Bureau of Land Management. This huge dune-covered area measures 45 miles long by 6 miles wide, boasting unlimited fun for your motorized vehicle. Over 1.4 million riders visit this Mecca of off-road excitement every year, with many of the riders joining friends on long weekends for casual head-to-head competition across the flats or exploring the rolling dunes in all directions.

Just about every ride with a motor is invited to join in on the fun. Not only will you see ATVs climbing the dunes, but side-by-side rides, dirt bike, sand rails, Jeeps, and rock crawlers are welcome. In fact, part of the thrill of spending some time on the sand is the wide variety of transportation you will find speeding under the California sun.

With so much open space to explore, you can take the kids on a trail ride among tumbleweeds and sparse desert vegetation or let your machine loose on rolling hills and catch some big air. Put your suspension to the test as you gun it over the next hump. The dunes are constantly changing and provide their own challenges to riders with gradual or steep slopes, small humps, and radical heights reaching 300 feet before sending your 4-wheeler down the side in a roller coaster-type ride.

Milder weather arrives in October and lasts until May, making it the perfect escape from a Minnesota winter. If you prefer an empty desert landscape, you’ll be braving the searing heat of the summer where temperatures often reach 110 degrees Fahrenheit and higher.

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Camping at Gecko Road

Make the most of your bucket list trip and bring your RV along to Glamis and set up camp under the stars. Gecko Road is the single paved road running through the park and there are two areas designated as camping areas with vault toilets and trash facilities available, though you do have to register for a camping permit. There are no water or electricity hookups, so make sure to fill your tanks and load up your generator. Leave plenty of room between your rig and others to unload and wrench on your toys.

If a bed and breakfast is more your speed, the closest towns are at least 15 miles away while Yuma, AZ is nearly 60 miles to the south.

Packing List for Guaranteed Thrills

As always, any bucket list trip can go sour if you skip some of the essential equipment. With that in mind, make sure to add these items to your trailer before leaving civilization behind.

  • Fill the gas cans: There are no gas stations in the Recreational Area. If you run out of fuel, it's going to take an hour or two to get more.
  • Bring the water jugs: This is a desert. Not only can your machines overheat under the searing sun, so can you. Stay hydrated by packing a few bottles in your cooler every time you start up your engine.
  • Goggles, dust masks, and tight helmets: The dunes are created by blowing sands. The wind is constant and your tires kick up even more dust. Protect your airways and eyes with the right protective gear.
  • First aid: There is a ranger station, but 911 services are 30 minutes away. Be ready to take care of cuts and bruises.
  • Toolboxes: Don't let a flat tire or clogged radiator ruin your weekend. Bring the gear needed to keep your machine running.

The Small Print for Safety

There are a few rules and regulations that riders need to know before turning your 4-wheelers loose on the dunes.

  • Permits are required: From October 1 to April 15, you can grab a weekly permit for just $35. Come early and often and drive the entire season for just $150. The permit is per vehicle. You can order the permits online or pick them up at a variety of shops in the area or at the ranger's station.
  • Flags and spotters: Your ATV must have an 8-foot flag attached for improved visibility while riding around the dunes. A spotter should be used when dune riding to prevent collisions with other riders.

Do you want a new ride or some new accessories to make the most out of your bucket list trip to Glamis? Give us a ring at Tousley Motorsports. We have a huge inventory of off-road rides along with all the parts to kit it out in style.

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David Glassman

David Glassman

David Glassman is President of Tousley Motorsports.

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