Carson City District - Stillwater Field Office

Permit Requirements and Fees at Sand Mountain

Who needs a permit at Sand Mountain?
One permit is needed per primary vehicle, except on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, which are free entry days for everyone.  A primary vehicle is any street legal vehicle used for transportation to the recreation site.

How long do I have to purchase a permit? 
A permit is required within 30 minutes upon arrival to the recreation area.  The fee tube is at the entrance.

What are my permit options?
Annual permit: $90
and is valid for one year from date of purchase; weekly permit: $40 and is valid for seven consecutive days upon entry.  

Season permits are available through the Carson City District Office, phone: 775-885-6000, 5665 Morgan Mill Road, Carson City NV 89701; or the Nevada State Office, Bureau of Land Management, 1340 Financial Blvd., Reno NV 89502 or P.O. Box 12000, Reno NV 89520, phone: 775-861-6400.  Season permits are also available for purchase on-site during holiday weekends.  Avoid the lines at Sand Mountain and purchase your annual pass ahead of time by calling 775-885-6000. You will need to have your credit card number and one or two vehicle license plate numbers prior to calling.

Are there discounts for local residents?
No, but Tuesdays and Wednesdays are free for everyone.

Why doesn't BLM offer a one-day (24-hour only) pass to Sand Mountain?
The vast majority of our users are multiple-day visitors to Sand Mountain and hanging a $40 weekly permit or a $90 season permit in their vehicle window gives them value, convienence and accountability over a one-day pass. This is similar to the fee system that is used at other large BLM sand dune recreation areas like Imperial Sand Dunes and Dumont Dunes in California. 

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 Golden Access/Age/Eagle passport for more details.

Where can I purchase a weekly or season pass?
You are able to purchase the weekly pass at the fee station on site upon entrance to Sand Mountain Recreation Area.

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

Can I replace my permit if it is lost or stolen?
No.  Since Oct. 1, 2007, season permits have not been replaceable. 

A non-commercial special recreation permit has a value.  When a permit is carelessly lost, forgotten or misplaced, the price of having to buy another one or receiving a citation becomes an unwanted expense.  It is important (and the visitor's responsibility) to secure the permit inside the vehicle making sure it is properly displayed at the same time.

Why is there a need for fees at Sand Mountain Recreation Area?
As funding becomes more challenging, alternate sources of funding are needed in order to maintain quality recreation experiences at Sand Mountain Recreation Area. The costs of managing the Sand Mountain Recreation Area have increased substantially in the last three years. During the same time, the amount and reliability of funds to pay for these increased costs have dropped considerably. While those costs have been temporarily covered by recreation funds from other areas in the Carson City District Office and even nationally, that cannot continue and the recreation area must become more self-sufficient.

Isn't management of public lands already paid for through my taxes?
BLM manages about 261 million acres nationwide and about 5.2 million acres here in the Carson City District Office. Congress generally gives the BLM enough funding to manage these lands for primitive dispersed recreation. The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act was passed as part of the Omnibus Appropriations bill and signed into law on December 8, 2004. The Act provides authority to collect recreation fees for use of certain Federal lands and waters. The amount and type of services and facilities required for intensively used areas such as Sand Mountain far exceed the availability of federal funds, thus requiring collection of user fees.

How will the BLM ensure that fee compliance increases?
The BLM will be increasing its fee compliance enforcement efforts at Sand Mountain Recreation Area. In order to keep fees as low as possible, there must be an increase in fee compliance. If the recreating public cooperates with fee compliance, fees will remain low and the BLM can continue to provide facility maintenance, law enforcement, emergency medical services, and plant and animal habitat monitoring that is needed at Sand Mountain.

What do my fees pay for?
After the cost of collection, all the revenues generated at Sand Mountain are used at Sand Mountain.  Many aspects of the regular operations and maintenance of the recreation area are paid for out of the fees. Specifically, fees pay for law enforcement, labor, signing, equipment, emergency medical services, maintenance of the roads and facilities, trash collection, and sanitation cleaning and pumping.

Where can I ride?
The route system is identical to the routes that were in place for the past 3 years. Previous to March 2007, these routes were previously managed as the "suggested route system". In March of 2007, an Emergency Restriction Order was published in the Federal Register authorizing the BLM to restrict motorized vehicle use on public lands within and immediately adjacent to the Sand Mountain Recreation Area. The Emergency Restriction Order is intended to protect sensitive resources in the region. Public Lands within the Sand Springs Pony Express Station-Desert Study Area were closed to motorized travel in 1988.

Where can I camp?
You are allowed to camp in the area north of the Sand Springs Pony Express Station-Desert Study Area and west of the entrance road. There is no off-site camping permitted within 3 miles of the Sand Mountain Recreation Area boundary.

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, for the season, or permanently if warranted. If your permit has been revoked it will not be refunded.


Photo of new fee booth at the entrance to Sand Mountain Recreation Area.
Fees collected at Sand Mountain pay for law enforcement, emergency medical services, maintenance of the roads and facilities, signing and equipment, dumpster services, and sanitation cleaning and pumping of vault toilets.

If a fee attendant is not on duty when you arrive, please use the self-service fee tube. Thank you!