Does the thought of ripping an ATV, UTV, or dirt bike on sand dunes get your heart pumping? Tired of staring at concrete, trees, and grass all the time? Sounds like you need to spend some time in the desert.
The last time the Dirt Legal team went out west, we were in Nevada riding the stunning UTV trails around the Valley of Fire. We passed several places that looked prime for riding, the problem was that so many desert OHV areas caught our eye that we didn’t know which ones were worth stopping at and which were total disappointments.
So we started looking into it.
Like you, we would much rather be riding than sitting in the truck looking up trails and reading reviews. That’s why we’ve done all the work for you to find 5 of the best west coast desert OHV areas for you to ride during your next road trip to the West Coast.
Travel Tip: It’s easy to find free primitive camping near all of these trails. Our go-to resource for finding campsites is FreeCampsites.net and there are many other sites that do the same thing. Just remember to use caution when camping near trails. You don’t want to wake up to a pack of dirt bikes in your campsite!
5. Logandale Trails System (Nevada)
If you want the quintessential Nevada experience, look no further than this.
The Logandale Trail System is an expansive desert OHV area beside the Valley of Fire State Park near Logandale and Overton, Nevada. It’s so close to those towns that you can ride right from town onto the trails.
The muddy sand and scraggly peaks look like a different world, especially if you’re a native Floridian or Texan like most of our staffers. Some of our guys looked like they had just landed on Mars.
Logandale is located just south of I-15, 45 minutes northeast of Las Vegas. The small towns around here welcome visitors from every state and many countries, all passing through the city to stop and stock up on food and fuel. The smaller town of Overton a few miles south offers restaurants and facilities as well.
Overton is also home to Ultimate Desert Adventures, a rental company specializing in high-performance UTVs. That’s one of our staffers in the photo driving a rig from UDA, and while we rarely recommend a company by name (we aren’t sponsored by them in any way), we had such a great experience that we mention them whenever we hear of someone planning a trip to the Logandale Trails.
On the trails, you’ll find a few open bowls and steep dunes and you can expect the scenery to be majestic. 500-foot drops, 200-foot climbs, and incredible rock staircases are abundant. That’s what makes Logandale a great place for the whole family – it’s worth stopping here even just for the night.
If you decide to head over to the nearby petroglyph site down at the Valley of Fire State Park, make sure you respect the area by staying off the rock art and leaving the artifacts where they are. This place needs to be well-kept to be enjoyed by visitors for years to come.
On the other hand, you can do just about anything you want in the OHV area.
Logandale Trail System
Location: 36.5934º N, 114.5268º W (accessible from Overton and Logandale, Nevada)
Riding area: Roughly 200 miles of trails
Amenities: Primitive camping and dry RV parking spaces in the immediate area. Lodging available in Logandale and Overton.
Don’t miss: There are plenty of rare animals to see, some truly unique terrain, and thrilling trails like Raptor Eater Hill.
4. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park (Utah)
Number 4 on our countdown of desert OHV areas is located in southwestern Utah and is considered by many to have one of the best sand dunes anywhere near the West Coast.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is a great spot to ride if you like steep climbs and open dunes. The area is known for the intricate system of trails that surround the park, a varied network of sandy trails that are perfect for advanced or beginner riders alike.
And the views – where evergreens and sand dunes come together – are unique to the high desert.
If you like to camp, make sure to bring your RV; full hookups are on offer in the main campground for just $20 per night. You can also bring your friends and grab a double campsite for just $40. Places like this get booked up early, so make sure you reserve in advance. If you miss out, there are plenty of places to dry camp or set up a primitive site near the trails for free.
Coming to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is a memorable time for many because of the beautiful pink sands found throughout the park. But keep in mind that this sand is extremely soft – you will need 4WD to get through most of the areas, especially the primitive camping sites.
And since you already made the trek to rural Utah, why not head over to Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon… on that note, why not just stay out here forever?
Coral Pink Sand Dunes
Location: 37.0672º N, 112.7046º W (about 20 miles from Kanab, Utah)
Riding area: Approximately 1,500 acres
Amenities: Primitive camping and dry RV parking spaces in the immediate area. The state park campground is $20 for a single campsite or $40 for a double site. Lodging available in Kanab, Glendale, and St. George.
Don’t miss: Stunning pink sands, incredible views of the Moquith Mountains, and quick access to several world-class National Parks.
3. St. Anthony Sand Dunes (Idaho)
Amid the Land of Potatoes is one of the smallest desert OHV areas on the west coast, but it’s also one of the best.
St Anthony Sand Dunes only measures about 10,600 acres, yet it’s one of the best desert riding areas to visit in the West. What makes this place so special?
Pure sand and massive dunes.
Huge bowls, steep climbs, and lava rock formations are abundant. St Anthony is filled with lots of things to see, such as exotic wildlife and the nearby Egin Lakes, a real-life oasis situated right up against the dunes. The lake is open year round and is a great place to swim or hang out and enjoy the scenery. Just make sure you don’t take your vehicle in the water – their rule, not ours.
If you are considering camping at St. Anthony Dunes, the BLM-operated Egin Lakes Campground is the closest spot around. If you want more amenities, there are two other campgrounds in the area that offer full hookups.
The most well-known local campground is Idaho Dunes RV, known for holding events in the summer and for offering primitive camping if roughing it is your style. The other campground is Sandy Hills Resort, but it is farther from the dunes than the others. Cost varies depending on where you camp and the site you choose.
However you choose to catch your nightly Z’s, the St. Anthony Sand Dunes are a spot you won’t want to miss on your powersports tour of the western United States.
St. Anthony Sand Dunes
Location: 44.0037º N, 111.7950º W (about 10 miles outside St. Anthony, Idaho)
Riding area: About 10,600 acres
Amenities: Primitive camping, dry RV spots, and full-service campgrounds nearby. Lodging available in Rexburg and St. Anthony.
Don’t miss: The real-life oasis of Egin Lakes.
2. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (Oregon)
The Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is the runner-up on our list of the five best desert OHV areas and desert trails to ride for one simple reason.
At first glance, Oregon might not seem like the place to find a desert-like riding experience. But as soon as you remember that sand also occurs at the ocean, it all starts to make sense. The ocean also means you won’t be sweating your All Balls off by the time noon rolls around.
Is Oregon Dunes truly a desert OHV area? I’ll leave that for geologists to decide.
There are three central riding areas of the Oregon Dunes: Coos Bay at the south end, Florence in the north most section, and Winchester Bay in the middle. With smooth bowls, enormous dunes, sandy trails and over 40 miles of pristine coastline, this Cascadian destination is most famous for its trails that curve through the trees and straddle the turbulent Oregon coast.
Most of the open sand dunes can be found over by Winchester Bay. This area features dunes that can reach up to 500 feet tall. 500 feet! If you head over there, make sure you are an advanced rider and are ready for some intense hill climbs.
You can find more intermediate riding over in Florence, with average-sized dunes and an area where you can ride right on the beach. If you want some wooded trails, take a trip over to Coos Bay where you will find woodlands with some desert elements mixed in.
Oregon Dunes is one of the few places we’ve been where you can spend all day in the saddle without thinking twice.
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area
Location: 43°43′27″N 124°10′39″W (along the Oregon coast near Gardiner and Coos Bay)
Riding area: 31,566 acres
Amenities: Primitive camping is sparse; RV parking is common. Lodging available in multiple small towns along Highway 101 and further inland in Eugene.
1. Imperial Sand Dunes National Recreation Area (California)
The last place on our countdown of desert OHV areas is not the least in any way.
Far from Compton and Hollywood Boulevard, the Imperial Sand Dunes National Recreation Area is one of the most visited OHV areas in the entire country. This Cali paradise is home to the most famous sand dunes in the world: The Glamis Dunes. Imperial Sand Dunes also happens to be the largest OHV area in the United States.
In other words, it doesn’t get any better than this.
Here you’ll find over 150,000 acres of never-ending bowls and hills to test your skills. There are four different areas of the Imperial Dunes: Gordons Well, Glamis, Ogilby, and Buttercup Dunes. And because the winds are continually changing the architecture of the sand, the Imperial Sand Dunes are known to keep even the local regulars on their toes.
Sleeping at the Imperial Sand Dunes is easy. If you are coming here with your RV, you can camp almost anywhere. The Vendor Flats, Gecko Road, and numerous washes easily handle large crowds camping on weekends, and there are primitive camping spots all over the desert ripe for the taking.
Whether you are a novice or a pro, Imperial Sand Dunes is the place to be. It’s country’s best OHV area and one of the best OHV areas in the entire world.
Imperial Sand Dunes National Recreation Area
Location: 32.9732º N, 115.1731º W (about 20 miles outside Brawley, California)
Riding area: Over 150,000 acres
Amenities: Primitive camping and RV parking are abundant. Lodging available in Brawley, El Centro, and Calexico.
Don’t miss: The six most popular hills are China Wall, Competition, Oldsmobile, Wall Hill, Brawley Slide, and the Lizard. See them all to fully experience everything the country’s best OHV area has to offer.
Have you ever been to any of these sand dunes? Did we miss your favorite one?
If you have ever been to any of these places, we would love to hear about it. Are there sand dunes, desert trails, and OHV areas that we missed? Let us know what you think should be on the list and you just might be featured in the next one.