The Trona Pinnacles is one of the most unusual geological features in the California Desert Conservation Area. The unusual landscape consists of more than 500 tufa spires, some as high as 140 feet, rising from the bed of the Searles Lake. The pinnacles vary in size and shape from short and squat to tall and thin, and are composed primarily of calcium carbonate (tufa) that formed underwater. They now sit isolated and slowly crumbling away near the south end of the valley, surrounded by many square miles of flat, dried mud and with stark mountain ranges at either side.
Wild Burros ridgecrest 85 A field of California Poppies and other widflowers Desert Tortoise Wild Horses
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Ridgecrest Field Office

Riding Off-Highway Vehicles on Public Lands

From the wide open spaces of the Spangler OHV Area to remote winding mining trails in the Panamint Mountains, the Ridgecrest Field Office offers a diversity of opportunities for the off-highway vehicle enthusiast. Along with this freedom, also comes the responsibility to know and comply with the California Vehicle Code and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regulations. Whether you ride a motorcycle or tour with a sport utility vehicle, this information will give you some of the basic regulations you need to know for a trouble free visit to the Public Lands.

REGISTRATION AND LICENSING: A current California Green Sticker or Red Sticker or a current license plate is required on all vehicles operated on the Public Lands in California. A Green Sticker or Red Sticker can be obtained from any California Department of Motor Vehicle office.

  • California Green Sticker allows vehicles to operate on public land all year.
  • California Red Sticker is exactly the same as the Green Sticker except that these vehicles can only be operated during certain times of the year. To know when you can operate your vehicle, call the specific BLM office that administers the riding area you want to visit or check the Web site at
  • Visitors from outside the state of California must have a valid permit/registration from an off-highway vehicle program in your home state. If no valid permit/registration from your home state, you will have to purchase a "Non-Resident OHV Permit" for California.

Motorized vehicles operated on state and county maintained roads must be registered for highway use and have a current license plate.


  • It is illegal for anyone to operate an off-highway vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Operating or riding an off-highway vehicle with an open container of alcohol is illegal.
  • All OHV's must be equipped with an approved muffler, functioning brakes and a US Forest Service approved spark arrestor. If you are driving or riding at night -- you are required to have a working headlight to see 200 feet ahead and a tail light visible for 200 feet.
  • Vehicle must meet the noise limits specified in the California Vehicle Code.
  • The Operator of an OHV must be able to reach and effectively operate all controls on the vehicle. Any motorcycle that carries a passenger must have foot pegs for the passenger.
  • Don't operate your vehicle faster than what is safe for the conditions of the area you are riding in and your own personal skill level.
  • Slow down to 15 mph when you are within 50 feet of areas where other visitors are camped.
  • Slow down to 15 mph when you are near wildlife or livestock.


  • All persons, regardless of age, who operate an ATV on lands must wear a Department of Transportation public approved safety helmet.
  • Only the operator is permitted to ride an ATV --- no passengers are permitted.
  • Persons under 14 years of age must have an approved safety certificate in possession AND must be accompanied by and under the direct supervision of a parent or legal guardian.
  • Persons under 18 years of age must have an approved safety certificate in possession or be under the direct supervision of an adult who is in possession of an approved safety certificate.

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

To help BLM preserve California's fragile deserts, please park your vehicles or set up camp in previously disturbed sites.