The Imperial Sand Dunes, or Glamis, as the locals call it, is worth a visit for any van or RV nomad looking to explore one of SoCal’s greatest natural attractions. The dunes are the largest mass of dunes in California. The dune system extends more than 40 miles long and averages 5 miles wide and often reaches 300 feet above the desert floor.
The Imperial Sand Dunes is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and offers van and RV nomads a great opportunity to explore the desert and enjoy off-roading around the dunes.
The dunes are a favorite with nomads’ for their amazing scenery, opportunities for solitude, off-roading, hiking, and exploring rare plants and animals.
The dunes were created by windblown sands an ancient called Lake Cahuilla and extend more than 40 miles.
Off-roading is the main activity here. Most of the off-roading action occurs in the recreation area south of Highway 78 and is open to all recreational vehicles. Limited areas surround the dunes require vehicles to travel on designated routes.
Closed areas prohibit motorized vehicle use entirely. Information and maps for all of these areas are available at the ranger stations.
There are multiple camping locations within the Imperial Sand Dunes. Each camping area is first-come-first-serve, but there is a 14-day limit. The biggest area is off Gecko Road, which offers 10 camping areas. There are pit toilet but they can be spread out. A recreational permit is required to camp. Check the map for the exact locations of all the camping areas.
North Algodones Dunes Wilderness
The North Algodones Dunes Wilderness offers van and RV nomads a more tranquil alternative than the main dunes fast-paced action. This wilderness encompasses more than 26,000 acres, with the largest and tallest dunes in the central area. The wilderness is closed to all vehicles and mechanized use.
The dunes have been used in famous movies like Star Wars, the Scorpion King, Lawrence of Arabia, etc. In Star Wars, the Jabba’s sail barge set location was filmed in the Buttercup Valley by the border.
A permit is required from October thru April to visit and stay at the dunes. Permits are $35 per week in advance or $50 per week if purchased at the visitor center. Season permits are also available for $150. See the weblink below for more details.