El Centro Field Office

North Algodones Dunes Wilderness


Picture of the Dunes covered in purple and white flowers. Photo by Bob Wick
North Algodones Dunes Wilderness

Location: Imperial County; 26 miles east of Brawley, California (Note: Boundary set backs from roads or trails are 30 to 300 feet)

North Algodones Dunes locationArea Description: 25,895 acres. The Algodones Sand Dunes System covers 200 square miles, making it one of the largest dune complexes in North America. Other specially designated areas found within this wilderness include the Imperial Sand Hills National Natural Landmark and the Algodones Outstanding Natural Area. The wilderness is divided into two distinct zones. On the west side are the primary dunes, the largest and tallest dunes composed of relatively coarse sand. On the east are the secondary dunes, smaller and composed of generally finer sands carried further east by prevailing winds. The secondary dunes are interrupted in places by basins or flats which support mesquite, smoke tree, ironwood, palo verde and desert willow trees. Streams draining from the nearby Chocolate Mountains flow westward to the edge of the dunes, which act like a dam to hold the water. Ponds form in basins during the spring, supporting a variety of wildlife. The flat-tailed horned lizard, desert tortoise and Colorado Desert fringe-toed lizard have all been spotted in the region, and the fine sands of the secondary dunes provide habitat for the Andrews dune scarab beetle.

Getting There:  Located north of State Highway 78, the wilderness extends from the east side of the Coachella Canal to the town of Glamis. Access the east side of the Dunes from Glamis on the Niland/Glarnis County Road, which continues for approximately 10 miles and forms the eastern boundary of the wilderness.

Nonfederal Lands: Private lands may lie within the wilderness area. Please respect the owner and do not use these lands without permission.

Additional Information: Signs indicating "Wilderness" and "Closed Road" or "Closed Route" are placed at various intervals. Vehicles can be parked outside the wilderness boundary; however, the boundary is set back 30 feet from unmaintained dirt roads and 300 feet on paved roads.

Mechanized or motorized vehicles are NOT PERMITTED in a wilderness

Hunting, fishing, and non-commercial trapping are allowed under state and local laws.

Pet are allowed, but please keep your pets under control at all times.

Horses are permitted, however you may be required to carry feed.

Removal, disturbance, or attempting to remove archaelogical materials is a felony. Selling, receiving, purchasing, transporting, exchanging or offering to do so is prohibited by law.

CAMPING: Camping is permitted, limited to 14 days. After 14 days, campers must relocate at least 25 miles from previous site.

Help BLM preserve California's fragile deserts. Please park your vehicle or set up camp in previously disturbed sites.

Gathering wood for campfires, when permitted, is limited to dead and down materials. Do not cut live vegetation.

The BLM encourages all desert recreationists and travelers exploring public lands, not only within southern California but through the west, to use propylene glycol based antifreeze/coolant in their touring and recreation vehicles. Proven safer, it will have minimal impacts on the wildlife and the environment should a leak occur.

Colorado Desert Fringe-toed lizard.  Photo: BLM


North Algodones Dunes Wilderness

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Bureau of Land Management
El Centro Field Office
1661 S. 4th Street
El Centro CA 92243
Phone: (760) 337-4400
Fax: (760) 337-4490
Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., M-F
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