Renowned for its incredible off-road vehicle use, El Mirage OHV Area is the perfect place for RV adventurers who want to rip it up in the desert. Located in the Mojave Desert within San Bernardino County, the El Mirage OHV Area has been a popular destination for many years for those wanting to get out and experience some desert recreation near the city of Los Angeles. Operated by the BLM, El Mirage OHV Area is also a dry-camping destination for those who want to stay close by in the area.
Featuring a dry lake bed that is around six miles long, visitors to El Mirage OHV Area are mainly those who love to ride vehicles as this is one of the only BLM areas in the state where off-road riding is allowed. You will see all sorts of vehicles out having fun, including ATVs, cars, trucks, and buggies. You may also see full-sized aircrafts taking off or landing on the dry lake since the ground is hard enough to use a runway. Other popular activities include hiking, wildlife viewing, and rock climbing.
Since this is the desert, the weather can be extreme in the summer and the winter. Summer days will often see the temperature over 120 degrees, while during the winter it can drop below freezing and even snow. RV camping can be done on the lake, but you will have to stay at least 100 feet away from the edge. There are also 12 developed campsites for RV travelers wanting a few more amenities. El Mirage OHV Area is open all year round.
Traveling to and from El Mirage OHV Area is quite easy thanks to its location in San Bernardino County not too far from Los Angeles County. While there are few developed areas directly near the park (which can be expected since it is wilderness) you will be able to stock up on any supplies you may need in several nearby towns, including Victorville (around 19 miles away), Apple Valley (around 26 miles away), and Hesperia (around 27 miles away). At El Mirage OHV Area you will also be able to get a select few supplies from the visitors center, such as riding gear, snacks, and refreshments.
The roads in and around El Mirage OHV Area are usually kept in good condition but expect to drive on roads that are unpaved. If there has been any rain in the area these roads can be difficult to navigate as they will be very muddy and may cause you to get bogged. If it has been raining it is advised to not travel to El Mirage OHV Area since you won't be able to enjoy off-road recreation.
There are plenty of parking options since this is a wilderness area. If you do decide to park for the day or set up camp, remember to stay at least 100 feet away from the center of the lake so you don't disturb those who are riding.
The El Mirage OHV Area is one of the only BLM managed properties within Southern California that comes equipped with a developed campground. While still only suitable for dry-camping, there are a few handy amenities within the El Mirage OHV Area Campground that will provide you with a tiny bit of luxury.
The campground contains 12 sites that are suitable for both big rigs and smaller RVs. All of the sites come with a nice shade gazebo to help keep the warm sun off you, a picnic table, fire ring, and BBQ grill. None of the campground sites have any water, electric or sewer hookups and there is no dump station or water collection points within the campground. Pets are allowed but they must be leashed at all times.
If you plan to camp at the El Mirage OHV Area Campground or in any part of the wilderness area you should be prepared for it to be noisy due to the off-road riders. All campsites at the El Mirage OHV Area Campground are available on a first-come, first-served basis only.
By far the biggest drawcard to the El Mirage OHV Area and the reason for its existence is to enjoy some off-road riding. The area is very popular for this recreational activity and attracts people from all over who want to rip it up in the dirt.
There are miles and miles of dirt trails that you can ride on, along with the dry lake bed that is perfect for seeing how fast you can go. If you forget any gear you may be able to purchase it from the visitors center and remember, you must have your permits if you want to do some off-roading during your visit.
The Visitor Center is the main point of contact for El Mirage OHV Area and is the best place to visit or call for those wanting to find out more about the area. The Visitors Center is open daily and the friendly staff will be able to answer any questions you may have about off-roading or the wildlife that is found within the area. You can also buy snacks and safety gear here if you forget your own.
Since the El Mirage OHV Area is popular with adventurers who like to race, you may get the chance to take some awesome action shots during your visit. Time trials are often performed on the dry lake bed, or you could head out to the trails and hang out on one of the larger rocks and take some snaps as riders make their way through the area. Electricity is scarce out here, so make sure your camera batteries are charged up before you start clicking.
Although this wilderness area is dominated by off-road vehicles, it is still possible to do some hiking in the more remote areas of this 24,000 acre BLM managed area. Hikers will be able to enjoy views of the Shadow Mountains and you may also be able to spot a few animals out and about, such as desert tortoises.
Due to the very harsh summers, hiking is not recommended during the hot weather, so it is best to visit El Mirage OHV Area in the cooler months if you want to do some hiking.
Operated and maintained by the Los Angeles Parks and Recreation department, the Carl O. Gerhardy Wildlife Sanctuary is a great place to visit near the El Mirage OHV Area for those wanting a break from the noise and see some wildlife.
The sanctuary cover 547 acres and features hiking trails, nature viewing, and guided walks. If you stay for the sunset, you will be able to see some amazing scenes and the night sky will also take your breath away.
Located in Victorville, Mojave Narrows Regional Park is a great way for nature enthusiasts to escape from the desert and experience some other activities. The park contains a pond that is great for fishing and is open all year round, and if you don't have any bait you can also purchase some from the bait shop within the park.
Other activities include a disc golf course, picnic areas, kid's water park, and plenty of campsites if you are looking to stay in Victorville.