Rock Springs Field Office

Killpecker Sand Dunes Open Play Area

Dune sunset

Welcome to the Greater Sand Dunes Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). ACECs are areas within the public lands where special management attention is required to protect and prevent irreparable damage to important resources. Important resources in this area include wildlife, cultural, scenic, and wilderness. The Greater Sand Dunes ACEC is part of the larger Killpecker Sand Dunes.

The western portion of the ACEC includes the Sand Dunes and Buffalo Hump Wilderness Study Areas (WSA). These are areas of land that have potential for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System. No motor vehicle traffic is allowed in the WSAs.

The Steamboat Mountain area is crucial birthing habitat for deer and elk. This area is closed to motor vehicles from May 1st through June 30th to protect this habitat.

Access to the area is by the Tri-territory Road (County Road 4-17), which leaves U. S. Highway 191 approximately 12 miles north of Rock Springs.

Wilderness Study Areas
The BLM is required by law to maintain the natural character of WSAs. Recreational activities like hiking, hunting, and horseback riding are allowed while those that involve the use of motorized vehicles or mechanical transportation are not.

Off-Highway Vehicle Open Play Area

dune buggy

Safety Precautions
The OHV open area is designed as multiple use. Part of the OHV area is an active producing gas field. There are a number of facilities including pipelines, storage tanks and valves. Changing winds can bury or expose these facilities. PLEASE STAY ALERT! DO NOT tamper with these facilities!

Many of the dunes are very steep on the lee or downwind side. Use caution when approaching the crest of a dune. Even in this desert environment there are small ponds of water. Most of the ponds are on the lee side of the dunes.

Know Where You Are
People can and do get lost in the sand dunes. Open play is permitted only on the shifting sand. The road which bounds the Wilderness Study Area is marked and motor vehicle traffic is prohibited. Motor vehicle traffic in the Steamboat Mountain ACEC is permitted only on designated roads and trails. Please respect these areas by following the rules.

dune buggy

The Rules
Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) use is allowed only in the Sand Dunes Open Play area and only on active sand dunes (see map).

Off-road vehicles and off road vehicle use must comply with applicable state laws relating to use, standards, registration, operation and inspection.

Persons operating an OHV must possess a valid operator’s license. The exception is that a non-licensed driver may operate a vehicle provided that person is under the direct supervision of an individual 18-years-of-age or older who has a valid operators license and who is responsible for the acts of the person supervised.

No person shall operate an OHV on public lands:

  • in a reckless, careless, or negligent manner
  • at excessive speeds which endanger others
  • while under the influence of alcohol, narcotics or dangerous drugs
  • in a manner causing undue damage to or disturbance of soil, vegetation, wildlife,
    livestock, cultural resources, or other authorized land users
  • without lighted headlights and taillights during the period from a half-hour after
    sunset to a half-hour before sunrise
  • without a muffling device to prevent vehicles from making excess noise.
Drivers of off-road vehicles will yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and horseback riders.