Imperial Sand Dunes Rules and Regulations

Rules are designed to promote public safety in the Imperial Sand Dunes and have been in effect since 1983. PLEASE REMEMBER, IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO KNOW THE LAW. These rules apply to public lands within the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (ISDRA).

RECREATION PERMIT. A permit is required for all primary street legal vehicles used for transportation to the recreation site (unless exempted by P.L. 108-447). Permits must be purchased and visibly displayed in the windshield with the date side facing out upon arrival to ISDRA. Permits are non-refundable.

SAFETY FLAGS ARE REQUIRED ON ALL VEHICLES IN THE IMPERIAL SAND DUNES RECREATION AREA (This includes two-wheeled motorcycles). All vehicles shall be equipped with a whip mast and a 6x12 inch red/orange flag. Flags may be of pennant, triangle, square, or rectangular shape. Masts must be securely mounted on the vehicle and extend 8 feet from the ground to the mast tip. Safety flags must be attached within 10 inches of the tip of the whip mast with club or other flags mounted below safety flag or on another whip.

A 15 MPH SPEED RULE EXISTS ON THE SAND HIGHWAYS. No person shall operate an OHV in excess of 15 mph on public lands within 500 feet of Highway 78, Grays Well Road, Gecko Road and access roads within the Gecko and Roadrunner recreation sites.

NO SAVING SPACES. It is prohibited to reserve or save a camping space for another person.

  • Does the BLM tow vehicles away if they are left unattended in the camping areas at the ISDRA? Yes, under the authority of 43 CFR 8365.2-3(c) which says in developed camping and picnicking areas, no person shall, unless otherwise authorized; leave personal property unattended for more than 24 hours in a day use area, or 72 hours in other areas. Personal property left unattended beyond such time limit is subject to disposition under the Federal Property and Administration Services Act of 1949, as amended (40 U.S.C. 484(m)).

STAKING AREAS. It is prohibited to place into the ground any non-flexible object, such as, but not limited to, metal stakes, poles, or pipes, with the exception of small tent or awning stakes.

FIRES. The burning of potentially hazardous materials, e.g. (but not limited to) gas, oil, plastic and magnesium is prohibited.

WOOD PALLETS. It is prohibited to use as firewood, or have in possession, any firewood materials containing nails, screws, or other metal hardware, including, but not limited to, wood pallets and/or construction debris.

NO GLASS BEVERAGE CONTAINERS ARE ALLOWED. Possession or use of any glass, cup or bottle, empty or not, used for carrying any liquid for drinking purposes is prohibited. Persons may pick up glass beverage containers discarded by others to remove for deposit in approved trash receptacles.

NO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES ALLOWED WHILE RIDING ON BLM LANDS. No person shall drink an alcoholic beverage, have in their possession or on their person any open container that contains an alcoholic beverage while operating in or on a motor vehicle or OHV on public lands administered by BLM within California. NO PERSON UNDER AGE 21 SHALL BE IN POSSESSION OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES.

QUIET HOURS. No person shall operate or use any audio, such as a radio, television, musical instrument, or other noise producing device or motorized equipment (including generators)between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am in a manner that makes unreasonable noise that disturbs other visitors; or operate or use a public address system without written authorization from BLM.

PUBLIC NUDITY. Public nudity is prohibited.

ORGANIZED GROUP ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS. You may not stage, carry out, participate in, or sponsor an organized event or activity without written authorization from BLM (e.g. customer appreciation days, competitive races, bands, videos, movies, etc.).

RIDING IN PICKUP BEDS AND OTHER UNSAFE ACTIVITIES. No person shall ride in the bed of a pick up truck or any part of a motor vehicle not designed for passengers on or off road.

AIRCRAFT. Taking off or landing of aircraft, including ultralights, is prohibited within 1 mile of Gecko Road.

DUMPING. Dumping of sewage is prohibited (43 CFR 8365.1-1(b)).

CAMPING LIMITATIONS. A 14 day camping limit is in effect in the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area.

PARKING RESTRICTIONS. No parking or camping within 10 feet of pavement on Gecko Road.

FIREARMS/FIREWORKS. It is unlawful to discharge or use firearms, fireworks or other weapons within the recreation area (43 CFR 8341.1 (d)).

LEASH LAW. Animals must be kept on a leash not longer than six feet and secured to a fixed object or under the control of a person, or otherwise physically restricted at all times (43 CFR 87365.2-1{c}).

On public lands under Section 303(a) of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. 1733(a); 43 CFR 8360.0-7; 43 CFR 2932.57(b)), any person who violates any of these supplementary rules may be tried before a United States Magistrate and fined no more than $1,000 or imprisoned for no more than 12 months, or both. Such violations may also be subject to the enhanced fines provided for by 18 U.S.C. 3571. Those who violate these rules may also be subject to civil action for unauthorized use of the public lands, violations of special recreation permit terms, conditions, or stipulations, or for uses beyond those allowed by the permit under 43 CFR 2932.57(b)(2).

RECREATIONAL OFF-HIGHWAY VEHICLES (ROV). Operator of a ROV shall be at least 16 years of age, or be directly supervised in the vehicle by a parent or guardian or adult authorized by the parent or guardian (VC 38600).

  • Safety helmet required for operator and passengers of ROV (VC 38601).

  • Seat/shoulder belt or safety harness required to be worn when ROV is in motion (VC 38602).

  • Passengers must be seated in a location designed and provided by manufacturer in an ROV with a model year of 2014 or later (VC 38603(a)).

  • Passengers must be able to grasp the handhold while properly restrained with back against the seatback (VC 38604(a)).

OHV’S ON ROADWAYS. No person shall operate or drive an off-highway vehicle on a roadway, except to cross at an angle of approximately 90 degrees and in a quick and safe manner (VC 38025a).

HELMET USAGE. All persons, regardless of age, who operate or ride all terrain vehicles (ATV's) on public lands in California must wear an approved safety helmet (VC 38505).

PARENTAL SUPERVISION. No person under the age of 14 shall operate an all-terrain vehicle unless that person satisfies the requirements of VC 38503 (safety certification) and in addition, is accompanied by and under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian (VC 38504). Neither a parent or guardian of a child who is under 14 years of age, nor an adult who is authorized by the parent or guardian to supervise that child shall grant permission to, or knowingly allow, that child to operate an ATV in a manner that violates Section 38504 (VC 38504.1).

REQUIRED RIDER SAFETY TRAINING. No person under the age of 18 shall operate an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) unless they have received the safety course in this state or another state or is under the direct supervision of an adult who has the appropriate safety certification in their possession (VC 38503). For ATV certification information, please contact the ATV Safety Institute (ASI) at 800-887-2887.

NOISE RESTRICTIONS. Noise emissions of off-highway vehicles shall be limited to not more than 96 A-weighted decibels (dbA) if manufactured on or after January 1, 1986, and not more than 101 dbA if manufactured prior to January 1, 1986. Other restrictions may apply. Please visit CA OHMVRD web site for more information. Sirens (VC 38375) An off-highway motor vehicle, except an authorized emergency vehicle, shall not be equipped with a siren. A person driving an off-highway motor vehicle, except the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle as permitted by 21055, shall not use a siren.

CARRYING OF PASSENGERS. No operator of an all-terrain vehicle may carry a passenger when operating on public lands. However, the operator of an all-terrain vehicle, that is designed for operation off of the highway by an operator with no more than one passenger, may carry a passenger when operating on public lands (VC 38506).

OPERATING AN OHV UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL AND/OR DRUGS. It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or any drug, or under the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug, to drive a vehicle (VC 23152(a)). Driving while license is suspended/revoked off road as well as on road is against the law (VC 14601).

SPEED LAWS. 1. Basic speed law: Don't operate an off-highway vehicle faster than it is safe for conditions (VC 38305). 2. Prima Facie Speed Limit: The prima facie speed limit within 50 feet of any campground, campsite, or concentration of people or animals shall be under 15 m.p.h. unless changed as authorized by the code (VC 38310).

REGISTRATION. 1. Vehicles operated on federal and state highways, county roads, and BLM's Gecko Road, Gray's Well Road, and McCain Valley must be licensed for highway use. 2. Off highway vehicles owned by California residents must be registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles and display a valid Green Sticker or Red Sticker Vehicle Identification Tag (VC 38020,38010) in a clearly visible location on the vehicle (VC 38170). View Red Sticker riding schedule. 3. Off highway vehicles that do not have a valid registration or permit from the owners home state (incl. Mexico and Canada) will be required to purchase a California nonresident permit (sticker) through selected vendors in CA, NV, AZ (view vendor list). Permits may also be purchased from CA Dept. of Parks and Recreation 916-324-4442 (VC 38020). 4. California will only recognize other state’s registration that honor California OHV identification. If your state does not honor the California OHV registration, California won’t recognize your state’s registration (VC 38010 (b)(10)). The list of states that will require a non-resident permit can be found on California's OHV Information Bullentin

REQUIRED EQUIPMENT. According to California State law, any off highway vehicle must be equipped with an approved muffler, brakes, and spark arrester. Headlight and taillight are required for operation at night. Tail lights must include at least one red light.

LIGHT PROHIBITION. A person shall not display a flashing or steady burning red or blue warning light on an off-highway motor vehicle except as permitted by Section 21055 or when an extreme hazard exists (VC 38346).

ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE. No person shall operate on off-highway vehicle in a manner likely to cause environmental damage (VC 38319, 43 CFR 8341.1 {f} {4}).

FIREARMS. California State law - Firearms must not be discharged within 150 yards of residences, buildings, campsites, occupied areas, recreational areas, or domestic livestock. No shooting from or across any road. No shooting from a vehicle. It is unlawful to carry a loaded weapon in a vehicle.