Over 610 acres of towering 90+ foot sand dunes await your enjoyment in the Mescalero Sands North Dune Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Area. The dune field stretches over most of the area and lends itself well to all terrain cycles, sand rails and dune buggies. The dunes are made up of quartz particles and are constantly changing due to the prevailing southwest wind. When the dunes are active they move about a foot per year.
Among the biggest surprises in the area are the mature cottonwood trees. The combination of a very shallow water table and the sand's capacity to hold water allows these trees to thrive in an arid environment.
While the road into Mescalero Sands is capable of supporting trucks and buses, the soft sand off established roads and parking lots is not. BLM does not recommend leaving the surfaced areas in any vehicle other than an all-terrain vehicle.
The Bowl Parking Area provides access to the northern portion of the dunes, which includes the "Bowl." The Bowl is a large depression surrounded by dunes. The Cottonwood Site provides access to the southern portion of the dunes. Trails connect both portions of the dunes.
OHV use, motorcycle riding, picnicking.
RV camping is allowed in the north, middle, and south parking lots. Dispersed camping is allowed in the dunes away from the parking lots, but these areas can only be accessed by machines designed to go in soft sand.
There are picnic tables and shelters at the Bowl Parking Area. The Cottonwood Site has three shelters equipped with picnic table and grills. The restroom is also located at the Cottonwood site. There is no water available at Mescalero Sands.
Location / Access
From Roswell, travel east 45 miles on US 380 and turn south at the sign. From Tatum, travel west 27 miles on US 380.
Off Highway Vehicle Use on Public Land / Safety
Enjoy your play -- do it the right way by following all rules and regulations for off-highway vehicle use on public land. Anyone operating an off-highway vehicle on BLM land shall do so in accordance with State laws and regulations concerning use, standards, registration, operation, and inspection of off-road vehicles. Unless you are exempted by the New Mexico Department of Motor Vehicles, you must register your off-highway motor vehicle and affix the registration plate to your vehicle (NM State Statute 66-3-1003).
Anyone operating an off-highway vehicle on public land must have a valid state license or learners permit unless: a) the individual is under the direct supervision of a person 18 years of age or older who has a valid operator’s license and who is responsible for the acts of the person being supervised; or b) the person is certified by State government as competent to drive off-road vehicles after successfully completing a State approved operator’s training program.
Enjoy your play - do it the safe way, by following these simple safety suggestions:
- Know your limitations.
- Ride with a partner.
- Always wear a helmet, eye protection, and protective clothing.
- Make sure each rider in your group has a map and knows where the party is headed.
- Be familiar with your vehicle and keep it in good working condition.
- Expect the unexpected. Take plenty of water and high energy food. Pack a first aid kit. Avoid running out of gas and carry tools needed for minor repairs.
- Operating an off-highway vehicle requires a high degree of skill and judgment. Ride unimpaired - don’t use drugs or alcohol.
- If your vehicle is equipped with a headlight, ride with it on at all times. It will allow other users to see you sooner.
- If riding at night make sure your vehicle is equipped with headlights sufficient to light an object 300 feet in front of you. Make sure your red taillights can be seen at a distance of 500 feet from the rear.
Have a positive influence on the area and those around you, practice the Tread Lightly! Pledge:
Travel only where permitted.
Respect the rights of others.
Avoid streams, meadows, and wildlife areas.
Drive and travel responsibly.