It's sand season, so fire up that quad, dump the clutch and let internal combustion rocket you across the face of that dune. ATV Rider is always on the prowl for new and exciting areas to air it out. In any of these areas, you'll find sand being sprayed skyward by the bucketload all weekend long. Here are your best bets for America's hottest dune action.
As always, "call before you haul" to check on trail conditions as well as rules and regulations. Requirements vary by location, but the ATVR staff prefers to play it safe by always wearing helmets, using spark arrestors and running whip flags.
Cinders OHV-Flagstaff, Arizona
If you're sick of sand and want to ride on a different type of dune, Cinders is your best bet (see Trailhead, Aug. '07). Although it's not technically a dune area, the hills of Cinders OHV consist of small, black volcanic rocks, offering a unique riding experience. There are also plenty of trails (and elk) in the area, and the local ranger's office in Flagstaff is friendly and helpful. For a real challenge, try your hand at tackling $100 Hill, the largest hill in the area.
On the web:
Dumont Dunes-Baker, California
Dumont is a staff favorite here at ATV Rider. It's not too awfully far from L.A., the dunes are pretty nice, and there are plenty of trails to keep you busy if you get tired of the sand (not likely!). Some of the dunes here are very steep and challenging, and the crests can be very sharp (known as razorbacks), so go slowly during your first pass up a dune.
Dumont Dunes is located approximately 30 miles north of Baker, California, off of Highway 127. Make sure to gas up and have plenty of food and ice before leaving Baker, because there's nothing around for miles. Gambling and other "adult activities" can be found about 50 miles away across the state line in Pahrump, Nevada.
On the web:
Imperial Sand Dunes-Glamis, California
If you haven't ridden here yet, you've no doubt heard about it. Glamis is a dune rider's Mecca because of its riding experience as well as its people watching. From mild to monstrous, Glamis has hills for all skill levels. It's no wonder so many riding videos have been shot here. If you want to experience your ATV's maximum velocity, ride to the top of Glamis's tallest dune (insert sarcasm here), pin the throttle, and hang on for dear life as you ride it out all the way to the bottom.
When you're not riding, you can gawk at all the big-money machinery motoring around the dunes. Corvette-powered sand rails, $40,000 Yamaha Rhinos ... they're all here. For the ultimate gear head experience, visit Glamis during Thanksgiving weekend and watch in awe at the massive ocean of humanity that descends upon the dunes.
On the web:
Oceano Dunes (Pismo Beach)-Oceano, California
When it's horrifically hot, the colossally cool head to Pismo Beach. The ocean breeze keeps the temperature nice and moderate, while the amazing views make us want to park our ATVs at the top of a dune and just gaze out into the ocean. Like other dune areas in the country, Pismo Beach is at risk of closure if rules and regulations are not strictly adhered to. So ride safe and keep this national treasure open.
On the web: http://www.ohv.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=1207
St. Anthony Dunes-St. Anthony, Idaho
St. Anthony Sand Dunes features more than 11,000 acres of sand and dunes as high as 400 feet. The main attraction is Choke Cherry Hill-and it's a monster. If you make it to the top of Choke Cherry, you will be rewarded with a view of the Grand Teton Mountains far off in the distance. Devil's Dune is another challenging area at St. Anthony's. The bottom of Devil's Dune is very much rounded out, resulting in a great place to try and reach your quad's maximum velocity.
On the web: http://www.idaho-ohv.org/index.htm
Silver Lake Sand Dunes-Mears, Michigan
For duning up north, you've got to visit Silver Lake. Bordering Lake Michigan and Silver Lake (obviously), Silver Lake Sand Dunes consists of nearly 2000 acres of fun. Swimming, hiking and other activities await you when you're not riding. You can also comb the beach for fulgerites, which are tubes of glass formed when lightning hits the sand.
On the web: http://www.silverlakesanddunes.com