The Desert Southwest is an off-road enthusiast's dream come true. The region is perfect for all types of outdoor adventurers, and there's more than meets the eye. Aside from ample space to open up the throttle, the desert offers other unique experiences like hiking and biking. But, for those who enjoy the need for speed and testing their vehicle's capabilities, you'll find that our destination will suffice. From the rip-roaring dunes at the Imperial Sand Dunes to the trails, to the rocky terrain of the Muggins Mountains in Wellton, Arizona, you'll find that there's something for everyone.
If you’re visiting and you want to get out in the sand on your own, you can rent an ATV or UTV and join in on the fun, or if you would like to purchase an off-road vehicle, try visiting Liberty Motorsports for the latest and greatest in outdoor recreation. The dunes are perfect for motorcycles, quads, UTVs, sand cars (rails), and almost anything with 4-wheel drive. Other trails call for more rugged vehicles more equipped to handle large boulders and steep mountains.
Vehicle camping is permitted at the Imperial Sand Dunes campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The main camping areas are Buttercup Valley, Gray's Well and Glamis campgrounds along Gray's Well Road south of Interstate 8 and Gecko and Roadrunner campgrounds along Gecko Road south of Highway 78. All offer parking pads, toilets, and trash facilities.
Use permits are required within the recreational area for "primary vehicles" — the street-legal vehicle that gets you there. Permits are available for the season or for a seven-day period. Season permits run from October 1 through September 30 of the next year. Permits are also required for vendors, filming, or special events like weddings, races, or organized group activities. You may save money by buying your permit offsite, by phone, online, or from an authorized dealer in Arizona or Southern California. For more information, click here for the Bureau of Land Management (El Centro office) or to buy a permit.
Want to make your mark on the world? Join thousands who’ve done just that by arranging rocks to spell out names or fanciful designs in the Valley of the Names northwest of Yuma. Since World War II G.I.s who trained in the area started decorating what they called Graffiti Mesa. This unique attraction has now spread across nearly 1,200 acres of public land. Please note that desert etiquette demands that you bring your other rocks rather than snitching from existing “signatures.” (GPS@ 32.8732685, -114.6844447, take Picacho Road from Winterhaven and bear left at the fork (Barney Oldfield Road.)
Looking for more adventures in wide-open spaces? In the Desert is a fun, noncommercial website with all kinds of interesting resources. The site’s Desert Day Trips page features lots of nearby expeditions in both Arizona and California, and you can download the GPX topo tracks from the website and then load them into CalTopo or Google Earth maps.
As with any wilderness area, please respect public lands. Remember to pack out what you pack in and don’t burn garbage.
The Arizona Peace Trail is a 650-mile Off-Highway Vehicle Trail in Western Arizona, running between Yuma and Bullhead City to the north. The trail features a variety of recreation opportunities for off-roading enthusiasts. The trail system loops through Yuma, La Paz and Mojave counties.Read More