We have a week to kill until our next scheduled RV Resort stint at the Thousand Trails in Las Vegas so decided to check out an area of the Imperial Dunes Recreation Area called Glamis Dunes. We had boondocked fairly close to the dunes when getting our teeth done in Algodones and they kind of intrigued me. Looking at the dunes from a satellite image I noticed Highway 78 crossed right through the dunes so decided to take a look around there and see if there were dry camping opportunities. WOW! Was there ever! Unknowingly we had stumbled upon one of the biggest off-road enthusiasts haunts.
Glamis has virtually no permanent structures aside from the “Glamis Store” and “Boardmanville Trading Post”. Both offer supplies; fuel is not available, for some of the hundreds of thousands of recreational visitors each year (many of them ORV users) who pass through the Algodones Dunes and the associated Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, located in the southern portion of the dune system. The name “Glamis” or “Glamis Dunes” is often used to refer to either or both of these areas, though technically this is incorrect. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glamis,_California
At the Glamis store, we inquired and got information about camping and fees. Turned out there were dozens of areas to camp, most had cement pads and some were hard sand. The fee was $40 for a week pass to the area, though if you buy it outside the dunes at many outlets you can get the same pass for $25. Not knowing the area too well and afraid of getting the trailer or truck stuck in the sand I choose to stay near the Glamis store in a large hard packed sand area called Glamis Flats.
We arrived on a Thursday and it wasn’t too crowded but by the following evening all the weekend warriors had arrived and the place was a jumping. This is not the type of dry camping where you worry about your generator disturbing the neighbors. If you want peace and quiet stay away. This is a celebration of the internal combustion engine! Rigs of all sizes, trucks, ATV’s. Dune Buggies, Motorcycles, home-made contraptions, etc. All zipping about madly over the huge area of sandy dunes. Everyone was having a great time and many were entire families enjoying the Off Road Vehicles. We laughed at cute little kids with mini dune machines trailing behind mom and dad across the dunes. Some of the machines were very impressive and worth a ton of dough. We saw many called rails which were nothing more than a frame and a whopping big powerful motor and paddled type tires. They really could scoot across the dunes. Some of the dunes are hundreds of feet tall and people use these beasts to climb the steeps parts of them.
Everyone was having a great time and many were entire families enjoying the Off Road Vehicles. We laughed at cute little kids with mini dune machines trailing behind mom and dad across the dunes. Some of the machines were very impressive and worth a ton of dough. We saw many called rails which were nothing more than a frame and a whopping big powerful motor and paddled type tires. They really could scoot across the dunes. Some of the dunes are hundreds of feet tall and people use these beasts to climb the steeps parts of them.
Check out my video of various Dune machines in action
The flip side of our visit to Algodones Dunes was a chance to hike into the wilderness area. North of Highway 78 is a large expanse of dune habitat that the wheeled vehicles aren’t allowed in. This area’s dunes are pristine, no tire tracks so we hit that area up a few nights for some sunset walks and photography. Such an opposite to the loud chaos on the south side was the peaceful, stillness and beauty of the north side. It’s a gorgeous place to climb a dune and watch the late evening sun cast shadows and make the dunes glow. The backdrop is pretty impressive as well with the Chocolate Mountains in the distance.
The duners, for the most part, a very friendly lot. We met a few camped around us and were invited to a bonfire. We had plans to go for a ride in the dunes with some other campers but the weather forecast showed big winds coming so unfortunately, we had to leave a little early. This is another area I would like to return to and spend some more time, maybe even rent a dune machine and take a spin!
Please enjoy the rest of the photos below