BLM California News.bytes 
News.bytes Extra, issue 556

Halloween Kicks Off Season at Imperial Sand Dunes

a dune buggy climbs a sand dune in the fog
Morning fog adds to the fun for this lone vehicle in the Buttercup area of the south dunes.  Photo: BLM/J.Szalwinski

Halloween has always been the traditional kick-off to a new riding season at the Imperial Sand Dunes, and this year, it was twice the fun.  With Halloween falling in the middle of the week, visitors enjoyed the “split” – recreating on both weekends to find fewer crowds, plenty of prime camping, and pretty decent weather.  All told, over 80,000 visitors enjoyed the warm, sunny days over the two weekends.

With safety always a high priority, visitors are reminded that the dunes are constantly changing, and a new season brings plenty of terrain changes.  Riders are advised to be mindful of terrain hazards, and scout the lee sides of dunes for any unexpected hazards. Wearing safety harnesses or seatbelts both on and off road increases both driver and passenger protection.

As dynamic as the dunes themselves, laws regulating off-highway vehicle recreation are also subject to change, and new California State legislation has defined and regulated the use of Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles (ROV), to become effective on January 1, 2013.  Use of ROVs, also known as UTVs or sideXsides, will require all occupants to wear a helmet, safety harness or seat/shoulder belt, operators who are 16 years or older (or directly supervised in the vehicle), and passengers who can reach and grasp the handhold while properly fastened in the vehicle.

For more information on the Imperial Sand Dunes, please visit or call 760-337-4400.  For more information on Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle (ROV) laws and regulations, please visit

a dune buggy comes down from the top of a sand dune
Up and over a small dune. Photo: BLM/J. Szalwinski

- Joya Szalwinski, Interpretive Park Ranger, BLM El Centro Field Office (November 1, 2012)

BLM California News.bytes, issue 556 -- To subscribe to News.bytes, send an e-mail to: OR visit our News.bytes subscription page.