Sand dunes dominate the landscape in the North Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area.
Off-Highway Vehicle Algodones Dunes Sunflower Hiker
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El Centro Field Office

Off Highway Vehicles

Vehicle traversing BLM Route 664 near the Cargo Muchacho Mountains. Photo credits: BLM\Valerie KastollNumerous opportunities for off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation exist in the El Centro Field Office resource area.  Miles of trails and open areas await all types of OHV enthusiasts.

Please keep in mind that you are responsible for knowing, understanding, and complying with all OHV regulations.  Please obey all signs regarding the management of public lands and routes.  Public lands in the California Desert District (CDD) are designated in several vehicle use categories.

Vehicle Use Categories:
  • Open: Open areas are available for all forms of cross-country travel.  Vehicles may be operated anywhere within the posted boundaries of open areas.
  • Limited: The majority of public lands in the CDD are designated limited use.  In these areas, vehicle travel is limited to approved/signed routes of travel.  No cross-country vehicle travel is allowed.
  • Wilderness:  The use of motorized vehicles or equipment is prohibited in wilderness areas.  No other form of mechanical transport is allowed in wilderness areas. Travel on foot or horseback is welcome.
  • Closed: Most closed areas are closed to motor vehicle use by the general public.  Hiking, bicycle riding, equestrian use, and other forms of non-motorized recreation may be permitted.  A few closed areas are closed to all use.  These areas are closed for safety reasons.  These may include military bombing ranges.    
Route Designations:
  • Open : Routes are open to all types of vehicles. 
  • Limited (Vehicle) : Routes are open to street legal vehicles only.
  • Limited (Seasonal) : Routes are open to all types of vehicles during the open season. Routes into Painted Gorge are closed during Peninsular Bighorn Sheep lambing season from January 1 - June 30. 
  • Limited (Permit Only) :  A Special Recreation Permit is required for Devil's Canyon Trail.

Jeepin' around on BLM route south of Picacho Peak Wilderness.  Photo credits: BLM\Neil Hamada

Places to ride:

Open Areas

  • Imperial Sand DunesThe premier OHV area.  This 159,000 recreation area contains over 83,000 acres of sand dunes open for OHV play.
  • Plaster City41,000 acres of open desert provides a variety of terrain.  Beware of adjacent military bombing ranges, limited use lands, and wilderness.
  • Superstition Mountain: This open area contains sand dunes, rocky trails, and typical hard pack desert terrain.  Watch out for adjacent military bombing ranges and the no camping zone.  OHVs are not allowed on Wheeler Rd. 

Limited Use Areas

  • Devil's Canyon Trail: This trail is extremely rugged and requires specialized vehicles to navigate the terrain.  A Special Recreation Permit (SRP) is required.
  • Lark Canyon: Located in McCain Valley, Lark Canyon offers approximately 31 miles of trails to OHVs less than 40 inches wide. OHVs are not permitted on McCain Valley Road. Obey all signs and stay on approved routes of travel. Cross country travel is not permitted.
  • NECO: The planning area encompasses over five million acres within the BLM California Desert District. In Imperial County, the NECO planning area consists of lands east of the Imperial Sand Dunes. Lands within the planning area are popular for hiking, hunting, rockhounding, and driving for pleasure.
  • WECO: This planning area covers approximately 475,000 acres and approximately 2,320 miles of off-road vehicle routes in Imperial County (from the Imperial Sand Dunes to the San Diego County line.) Obey all signs and stay on approved routes of travel. Cross country travel is not permitted outside of open area boundaries.

East Mesa: This limited use area is characterized by flat, creosote laden terrain. Obey all signs and stay on approved routes of travel. Cross country travel is not permitted.

Yuha: This limited use area offers plenty of washes and trails. Obey all signs and stay on approved routes of travel. Cross country travel is not permitted.