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What to expect at Buttercup Dunes

What to expect at Buttercup Dunes

Locally referred to as Buttercup Dunes and or Grey’s Well this particular section is just a part of the of the biggest set of sand dunes located in the United States. Algodones Sand Dune is an area that stretches about 45 miles along the Southern California, and Northern Mexican Border.   This unique desert landscape is currently being managed by the Bureau of Land-management of California and requires a fee for off-road entry and access.  This sandy desert terrain hides several historical treasures including a portion of the “Plank Road”.  This particular road allowed vehicles such as the Ford Model A, to drive through this treacherous desert.  Buttercup like flowers fill the valley in this area, hence the nickname Buttercup.

What is the fee for Buttercup Dunes?

The fee required for entry is

Off-site
Season permit $150 – valid from October 1 through April 15 each year
Weekly permit $ 35 – valid for seven consecutive days.

On-site
Season permit $150 – valid from October 1 through April 15 each year
Weekly permit $ 50 – valid for seven consecutive days

 

When Is the best time to visit?

That is subjective to the experience you would like to have. Family outing, holiday camping, photography or film projects, para sailing, and star gazing are just some of the activities visitors partake when visiting this area.  Peak dune season is the busiest time. Some debate the exact date in October but by Halloween weekend you can see way more people camping out in the dunes. Holiday and holiday weekends attract so many visitors, the estimates can sometimes be over 400,000 people.  Weekdays are usually slower days, those are the best time to come if you want to have more dunes to yourself.

Off-season times are great for those who don’t want to pay the permit fees, don’t mind the heat or the 12-14 hours of sunshine. Temperatures can climb from 85F up to or exceeding 120F during off season.  During the summer months the sand dunes glow as the full moon reflects it’s light all over the sandy hills. Great time to take photographs with no tire or footprints in the sand.

 

How long do you go for?

Your rental should depend on your time available plus travel time. From our shop it takes approximately 45 minutes, one way. If you have never been to the sand dunes the least amount of time I recommend is 4 hours if you are not planning to camp there, and have a good general experience.  I highly recommend eating before you head out there. There are no amenities out there other than restrooms. There are no RV hook ups it is a dry camping spot, however you can only camp for up to 14 days at a time.

 

What should I wear?

The desert can be brutal on your skin and hair. Sunscreen is essential and highly recommended, please check recommendations of application and reapplication of your product to ensure maximum protection. If you know that you will not be riding the whole time during your visit, I recommend taking a hat or shade to get out of the sun since there are no trees or shade structures to shade you out there.  Sunglasses are great if you are not in a OHV or riding.  Goggles are always a must when you are riding or driving a vehicle. Sand can get inside your eye and even scrape your cornea.

Long sleeve breathable layers and pants are highly recommended.  Avoid taking flip flops, you want your toes and feet protected.  Boots or shoes that cover your ankles work best to keep sand out of your socks and shoes.

 

Where do I buy the permit?

Permit can be purchased online at https://isdpermits.net/ 

If you click on the link it will also show you physical locations where you can purchase a permit.

 

For the latest up to date information on the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation area please visit BLM website.  All the rules and regulations regarding this off-road are on the BLM website.  There are several laws that apply to that specific area please read before arriving.

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