North Sand Hills Special Recreation Management Area

Things To Do:

  • Off-highway vehicle open dune environment and designated trail system (OHV Information)
  • Designated and dispersed camping
  • Hiking


  • 13 campites (tent pad, picnic table, fire ring)
  • 2 Vault Toilets
  • Access from and located between County Roads 6N and 6S
  • More information can be found on our Camping Page

Hiking:  The best times for hiking are usually week days during the summer and all week through the late fall, winter, and early spring. There are plenty of trails through the sage brush, aspens, and open dunes. Government Creek offers shade and a cool place to dip your toes on the northeastern side of the dunes.

Click here for a map of North Sand Hills and here for more information on hiking in general.

The North Sand Hills is an Instant Study Area.

An ISA is a specific category of Wilderness Study Area.

The North Sand Hills were designated a "Research Natural Area" in 1965. When the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) was passed in 1976, it required the BLM to designate areas that were formally identified as "natural" or "primitive" prior to Nov. 1, 1975, as ISAs. In 1980, a BLM inventory concluded that the area did not meet wilderness criteria. This did not release the area from ISA status. The BLM must manage WSAs to protect wilderness characteristics until Congress acts on BLM's recommendations to either release it or designate it as a wilderness area (BLM's "Interim Management Policy and Guildelines for Lands under Wilderness Review" (H-8550-1)).

How can off-highway vehicle use be allowed in a category of Wilderness Study Area?

The BLM's "Interim Management Policy and Guidelines for Lands under Wilderness Review" (H-8550-1) states that areas open to off-highway vehicles in Wilderness Study Areas "may be designate only: (1) as sand dune or snow areas for use by the appropriate sand or snow vehicles, or (2) where an area was designated open prior to Oct. 21, 1976." Current management limits motorized travel to existing open routes and to the open dunes. Both of these restrictions are consistent with the imterim management guidelines for WSAs.

Are improvements within the ISA, such as the restroom, improved road, signage and fencing consistent with the interim guidance?

These improvements are consistent with the "Interim Management Policy and Guildelines for Land under Wilderness Review" (H-8550-1) because they provide for safety and sanitation. Any additional development of the area would likely be limited or precluded by the ISA designation.

What can I do to ensure future recreational use of off-highway vehicles within the North Sand Hills Special Recreation Management Area and Instant Study Area?

  • BE PROACTIVE by keeping motorized and mechanized recreation on open existing routes and the open sand dunes. Do not cross or enter vegetated areas or areas fenced or signed as closed.
  • 'STAY THE TRAIL' and 'TREAD LIGHTLY' at all times.
  • DO NOT cut down any trees, even dead ones, or ride over vegetation. Vegetation keeps the sand dunes in place.
  • SPREAD THE WORD about the need for responsible and sustainable use.