Pets allowed
Guided tours
Backcountry camping
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The Imperial Sand Dunes, otherwise known as the Glamis sand dunes, are the largest mass of sand dunes in California and have been used as the setting of many films such as "Star Wars" and "Lawrence of Arabia." Usually this area is known for the OHV scene where in the winter thousands of dirt bikes, four-wheelers, and dune buggies are tearing through the dunes. However, the dunes are actually divided into two areas, a large section south of Highway 78 that is open to OHVs and a smaller section north of Highway 78 that is closed to OHVs known as the North Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area.  

This area is best accessed via Ted Kipf Road northbound from Highway 78. The road is dirt and gravel and gets rougher the farther north you travel, and after a few miles travel is ill advised in two-wheel drive vehicles. There are several unofficial entrances off the road into the wilderness area, but as this is soft sand, be aware of the very real possibility of getting your vehicle stuck in the sand before venturing too far.

Once parked, camping is allowed pretty much anywhere. There is no water and no facilities. But there are miles of sand dunes in every direction where you can run and explore with wild abandon. The eastern part of the wilderness has very soft sand with smaller dunes, while the western part has coarse sand with larger dunes. This is an amazing place to run around on soft sand with your bare feet at night under a million stars.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Winter parking pass

Open Year-round



Sand dunes. Solitude. Campfires. Stars and sunsets.




Backcountry camping
Family friendly
Geologically significant


Nearby Adventures

Imperial County, California
Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, California


Hi there! Is a permit required to camp in the North Algodones dunes? Specifically when parked on Ted Kipf road. I also noticed you could potentially park at Hugh Osborne lookout and hike in - do you know if thats possible?
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