The Beginner's Guide to Surviving Your Off-Road Adventure at the Glamis Dunes

The Beginner's Guide to Surviving Your Off-Road Adventure at the Glamis Dunes

The Glamis Sand Dunes are a must-go destination for anyone even remotely interested in intense, challenging off-road driving. Located about two hours east from San Diego, California, the Glamis Dunes are the largest sand dunes in the state, and one of the most challenging. If you're up for adventure, here are some tips and tricks to survive your first run.

How To Get There

Directions from Los Angeles:
  1. Head east on the I-10 past Palm Springs/Indio until you reach the 86S Expressway.
  2. Follow the 86S past the Salton Sea until it merges with Hwy 78.
  3. Stay on Hwy 78 as you exit Brawley (avoid taking 86 out of town).
  4. Hwy 78 will merge with Hwy 115.
  5. As Hwy 78/115 makes a sweeping right turn, turn left to stay on Hwy 78.
  6. Continue on Hwy 78 for approximately 19 miles until you reach the Imperial Sand Dunes.
  7. Exit at either Vendor Row or Gecko Road for campsite locations.
Directions from Arizona:
  1. Take I-10 West out of Arizona towards Blythe, CA.
  2. As you pass Blythe, take the California Hwy 78 exit (Neighbors Blvd.).
  3. Exit and turn left (south) at the top of the ramp.
  4. Continue south on Hwy 78 through Ripley and Palo Verde for approximately 50 miles until you reach Glamis.
  5. After crossing the railroad tracks, you'll find the Glamis Beach Store.

Where To Stay

The most popular option is to camp, where there are designated camping areas within the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area. Patrolled by rangers, the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area has facilities such as restrooms, showers, dump stations and more. They also have the option for several private campgrounds with amenities such as hook-ups for RVs and cabins to rent. Some of the dispersed camping areas allow free parking for your RV or tents, but do not have any facilities. 

Checklist For Your Trip to Glamis Dunes

  1. Off-roading Vehicle: Might be a no-brainer, but bring your adventure mobile.
  2. Sun Protection: The dunes can get very hot, make sure you protect your skin and prevent any damage. Sunscreen, sunglasses, hat-- all are important.
  3. Water: Dehydration must not be overlooked, so make sure you bring water.
  4. Food and snacks: There are no stores or gas stations within the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area.
  5. First Aid Kit: Make sure you are prepared for any accidents that might happen on the dunes. This includes bandages, antiseptic, or pain medication.
  6. Tools: Bring some basic tools just in case you have any vehicular issues.
  7. Maps/GPS: You might not get signal, so bring your old-fashioned map.
  8. Safety Gear: I'm talking about a helmet (required by law), googles, pants, long sleeves, gloves, boots-- anything you can think of. While the dunes are made for fun, it is Mother Nature we're talking, and she can be dangerous.
  9. Blankets/Sweaters: It's the desert, so its hot during the day and cold at night.
  10. Riding pass: You'll need a pass to ride the dunes, so make sure you purchase one prior to arrival.

When Should You Visit

Sand season is between October 1 and April 15th, and you need to purchase a Glamis Permit, which can be purchased on site at the ranger station or offsite online. You can choose from a weekly permit or a season permit. Weekly permits purchased online cost $35, while those in person costs $50 (as of the writing of this article). Season permits are $150 onsite or online. If you don't have a pass, your vehicle can be towed. So don't risk it.

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