Sand dunes dominate the landscape in the North Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area.
BLM
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
ATV rider heads into sunset. Hiker Algodones Dunes Sunflower Off-Highway Vehicle Slipface
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El Centro Field Office

Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area

Dunes Home / Permits / Laws & Safety / Take it Outside! / Plans & Documents / DAC Subgroup / Site Map  

Fee & Permit Information 2014-2015

Recreation Fee Area
Covers the entire Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area and its 1 mile planning area boundary. This includes, but is not limited to, Buttercup, Gecko Rd, Glamis, Gordon's Well/Dunebuggy Flats, Mammoth Wash, Ogilby, Osborne, along both sides of the Coachella Canal and Ted Kipf Rd.   See map .

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long do I have to purchase a permit?
The permit is required immediately upon arrival to the recreation area.  When you purchase your permit before you arrive at the dunes, you save money.

When do I need a permit?
Permits are required from October 1 through April 15 each year. 
Permit free days will be consistent with those authorized by the President, the Secretary of the Interior, the BLM Director, California State Director, and the BLM El Centro Field Office Authorized Officer.

Who needs a permit?
One permit is needed per primary vehicle. A primary vehicle is any street legal vehicle used for transportation to the recreation site. A permit is required at all times while in the fee area.    Please keep your permit until you exit the fee area.

Off-site

Season permit $150 - valid from October 1 through April 15 each year
 Weekly permit $  35 - valid for seven consecutive days.
  

 

On-site Season permit $150 - valid from October 1 through April 15 each year
 Weekly permit $  50 - valid for seven consecutive days.

 

  • Off-site (outside Imperial Sand Dunes fee boundary.) 
    • Various vendors located throughout CA and AZ.
  • On-site (within Imperial Sand Dunes fee boundary.)
    • Ranger stations
    • Various dune-area vendors

Why were the fees increased?
Permits have been available at the same price since 2004.  BLM has taken several steps to keep fees low, such as, but not limited to: increasing fee compliance, increasing efficiency of operations, reducing contract costs, applying for private grants, applying for OHV (Green Sticker) grants, partnering with private and public organizations, reducing maintenance of facilities and reducing emergency services.

Even with the cost saving measures listed above, fees, grants and federal funding have not been enough to cover operating expenditures.

Without the fee increase, employee and public health and safety, as well as the risk of litigation, could put sustainable OHV recreation in the Imperial Sand Dunes in jeopardy.

New!  **Season Permit is a Sticker**
The season permit will be sold as a sticker to be permanently affixed to the windshield of a primary vehicle.  Temporarily affixing this sticker (e.g. taping) is not an acceptable means of properly displaying the permit and may result in a citation. 

The season permit must be adhered to your vehicle at all times while in the required permit area of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA).  The adhesive supplied on the sticky side of the permit must be used to attach the sticker.  Place the permit sticker on the exterior driver's side and lower corner of the front windshield.  If the permit will be hidden due to a windshield cover, then adhere it to the exterior side of the window directly behind the RV driver.  Season permits are non-transferable.

Why is the new season permit a sticker?
The BLM addressed several different alternatives for a season permit, ranging from no season permit to a hang tag costing $180.  In order to address the public's request to keep a season permit and reduce the cost of the permit, and to address the compliance issues with visitors sharing permits, BLM is offering a season permit for $150 in the form of a sticker to be affixed to the vehicle.  Other notes:

a.  Historically, about 20% of all permits sold were season hangtags, however, in the FY 2012 and 2013, over 50% of the vehicles in the dunes displayed season hang tags.

b.  Various internet sites were advertising permit sharing, which is illegal.

c.  BLM tried registering each seasonal hangtag to each person and vehicle in the past, and it resulted in poor customer service and long lines (several hours).  This system would require the BLM to make more intrusive camp contacts to match the registration of each permit to each vehicle.  It also would have resulted in an increased cost to manage the program and negatively impacts the visitor's recreational experience.

Why is the sticker affixed to the outside of the windshield?
BLM considered both external and internal windshield stickers as a season permit.  The external sticker was selected because:

a. Internal stickers afford more opportunities for illegal transfers of the permit (which result in lower compliance and a more expensive permit).

b. External stickers are more visible, thereby reducing the cost of enforcement and reducing the need to intrude into camps.

c. Other programs utilize exterior stickers, such as: U.S. Military, motor vehicle registration, OHV registration, private parking permits, etc.

d. Theft deterrent stickers are available.

Can I laminate the sticker or tape it to the inside of the glass?
No.  The season permit must be adhered to your vehicle at all times while in the required permit area of the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA).  The adhesive supplied on the sticky side of the permit must be used to attach the sticker.

Place the permit sticker on the exterior driver's side, lower corner of the front windshield.  If the permit will be hidden due to a windshield cover, then adhere it to the exterior side of the window directly behind the RV driver.

What do I do if I have two vehicles?
Unless it is out of the fee period or fee area, each primary vehicle must have a season or weekly permit displayed.

What do I do if I sell my vehicle with my permit on it?
Permits are non-transferable.  If you sell your vehicle with your permit on it, you will need to purchase another permit.

Can I upgrade my weekly permit(s) into a season permit?
No.

Short-term Visitation Areas
Permits are not required for short-term visitation at Osborne Overlook, the Plank Road Cultural Resource Site, the Buttercup and Cahuilla Ranger Stations,* or the Watchable Wildlife Area.  
*Short-term visitation areas are posted.

Does my America the Beautiful (Golden Access/Age/Eagle passports) pass reduce the fees?

No. America the Beautiful passes only apply to "entry" and "use" fees. America the Beautiful program discounts do not apply to the "non commercial special recreation permit fees" which are charged in this off-highway vehicle area. Please see the back of your America the Beautiful pass for more details.

Please Remember...

  • Purchasing a permit does not give you the right to break the law. Under certain circumstances, a law enforcement officer may revoke your permit, evict parties temporarily or for the season, if warranted. To avoid such actions, adherence to all laws are vital to have a safe and successful weekend. If your permit has been revoked, you will not be refunded.

 

 
 

 Annual Fee Reports
 ISDRA Final Business Plan


Know before you go...

 Permit required
 Safety flag on OHVs
 Proper riding gear
 Properly registered vehicles
 Pallets prohibited
 Glass beverage containers prohibited
 No drinking and riding

Plan ahead for a safe, fun visit.


Two rails run a bowl.  Photo: Jim Shepard