Are you an Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) owner and love to explore the “open land” only accessible by OHVs? If so, then you need to visit Dumont Dunes, CA. Open land is a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) term used to describe a large portion of the dunes. Considered one of the best places for dune riding, it covers 8,150 acres with elevation changes from 700 to 1200 feet above sea level. The Dunes are less than 53 miles away from downtown Pahrump and offer an abundance of off-highway adventure.
Surrounded by desert beauty, with volcanic hills and the Amargosa River, Dumont Dunes has a mixture of small hills called rollers as well as large razorbacks which are peaks of the dunes that fall steeply on either side of the crest. You’ll also find bowl-shaped depressions as well. According to the Dumont Dune Riders, an organization that defines itself as “your community and information source for anything Dumont Dunes,” the GPS coordinates are approximately 35°41’44.38” N/116°14’26.34” W.
Nearby towns include Baker, Tecopa, and Shoshone, CA and Pahrump, NV, where you can get food and lodging. Fuel is available in Baker, Shoshone, and Pahrump. It is usually cheaper in Pahrump than the other two towns.
There are wide open spaces where visitors can park their RVs or tents on the sand. There are no hook-ups, running water, dumping stations, or other amenities or services offered. There are some outdoor toilets or BLM-style restrooms (outhouses) located in certain areas. Also, there are no dumpsters in the area. The motto is if you bring it in…you take it out. If you see trash left by someone else, you’re encouraged to take it with you to help keep the dunes clean.
Passes are required
The dunes are managed by the Barstow BLM Field Office, who can be reached on (760) 252-6000, M-F 8a-4:30p. You need a pass to enjoy this Open Area. To learn where you can purchase passes, you can find a list on Dumont Dune Riders website www.dumontduneriders.com
Example rates for the 2018/2019 season include:
Weekly (There are no daily passes.)
- $30 for a weekly pass for any non-holiday week
- $40 for a weekly pass that includes a holiday weekend
- $90 for a season pass with holiday black-out dates
- $120 for a season pass that includes holidays
During specific holiday weeks, there are annual events held, and the population of the dunes can climb to as many as 10,000 people. Holiday passes are required for these events. The 2018/2019 holiday schedule included:
- Halloween – Oct 23 thru Oct 29, 2018
- Thanksgiving – Nov 20 thru Nov 26, 2018
- New Years – Dec 25, 2018, thru Dec 31, 2018
- Martin Luther King – Jan 15 thru Jan 21, 2019
- President’s Day – Feb 12 thru Feb 18, 2019
During these designated holidays, there is a festival-like atmosphere. They offer Vendor Row which includes various vendors demonstrating and selling anything and everything you might need for your OHV enjoyment. BLM rangers and State Highway Patrol officers are available for crowd control, and Medevac Helicopters are accessible in case of emergencies.
In the past, one of the biggest Holidays on the dunes has been Thanksgiving. People come in droves to prepare their Holiday meals and share with fellow campers and enjoy what the dunes have to offer.
According to experienced OHV enthusiasts, it’s best to air down before venturing too far into the dunes because of the soft spots in the sand. You must have your own capability to air up again.
Remember you are in the desert, so bring the usual essentials for exploring dry, hot areas. Cell service is very sporadic so you cannot depend on it. Here are some essential things you should bring with you:
- Plenty of drinking water
- A full tank of gas and extra if possible
- Food enough for your stay
- A spare tire and necessary tools to change it
- Air compressor if you plan to air down
- Sunscreen and the ability to create shade (there aren’t a lot of trees out there)
- Appropriate supplies to carry out all of your trash
- First aid kit in case of injuries
Other Safety Precautions
- If visiting during a non-holiday week, for safety it’s wise to travel with others. You’ll be going out into a desolate area.
- Be prepared to help others who may get stuck or lost. Remember it’s a community of people with similar interests and everyone should be willing to help each other out.
- Bring appropriate equipment to help yourself or others if you get stuck or need to get out of a jam.
- Expect the unexpected and prepare for it.
- Become familiar with the area you are about to visit. Be aware of where you can and cannot travel and help protect nature.
To get to the Dunes from Pahrump, you travel 27.1 miles down NV Hwy 372 (which turns into CA 178 when you cross the California state line) to Shoshone. When you reach Shoshone, turn left and travel 25.6 miles south on CA Hwy 127.
There you will find one of the two dune areas. This one is called Little Dumont which can be found right off of CA Highway 127. The more popular area, referred to as the main area, is the place where most of the action is. To find this, you need to go back about a mile north of Little Dumont along Hwy 127 and find a gravel road called Dumont Dunes Road. This road takes you to the main area.
Necessary Vehicle Permits and Licenses Required
It’s best to check with the California State Patrol to be sure you have the proper licenses and permits required to enjoy the dunes. If you’re a non-California resident, you are still required to have specific permits for each vehicle you bring into the area.
Landmarks to Explore
Within the open area, there are certain landmarks you may want to seek out. Here’s a list of unique places from the Dumont Dune Riders website:
- North Pole
- South Pole
- Comp Hill
- Banshee Hill
- The Superbowl
- Sperry Wash
- Little Dunes
- Vendor Row (During a holiday event.)
Again, pay attention to any limitations regarding where you can and cannot drive. Some areas are designated as off limits.
Enjoy the Dunes, but Leave it Clean for Fellow OHVers
Dumont Dunes is a special place and conveniently located close to Pahrump for your enjoyment. Take the time to learn about them and know where you want to go before you get there. Be prepared for potential issues once you get there. You’ll have more fun that way.
Although the dunes never close, it gets extremely hot between Memorial Day and Labor Day with temperatures reaching into the 120°F. If you venture out there during that time, take extra precautions due to high heat. In the winter months, the temperatures can drop below freezing at night, but daytime temps are generally quite pleasant. The humidity is usually low and strong winds are common.
An excellent place to start your research is on The Dumont Dune Riders website which can be found at https://www.DumontDuneRiders.com. Here you will find answers to your questions, news, conditions, directions, and more. You can also find useful information on the BLM website, https://www.blm.gov/visit/dumont-dunes-ohv-area.
Enjoy exploring and learning about the dunes. But remember, whatever you take in with you, you must bring out. Leave the area as pristine as you found it and ready for other fellow dune lovers.