Encompassing more than 40 square miles, North Algodones Dunes Wilderness is a wonder of nature that features specially designated areas such as Imperial Sand Hills National Natural Landmark and the Algodones Outstanding Natural Area. These interesting spots make the BLM wilderness a popular destination among sightseers, lovers of nature, and dry camping enthusiasts. Located 26 miles east of Brawley, California, this BLM park can be accessed by four-wheel-drive vehicles via several routes off Highway 78.
There are plenty of places to see and visit at and around North Algodones Dunes Wilderness, such as Imperial Wildlife National Refuge, Salton Sea, Imperial Sand Hills, and Picacho State Recreation Area. Within the wilderness, things to do include flora and nature observation, wildlife and bird viewing, as well as hiking, horseback riding, hunting, and photography.
Free camping opportunities are open to visitors within the wilderness; however, no modern campgrounds or facilities are available. RV camping opportunities are available at Salton SRA.
North Algodones Dunes Wilderness lies 26 miles east of Brawley, California. This BLM wilderness, located north of California Highway 78, extends from Coachella Canal to the Glamis town. If you wish to access the wilderness from the east, Niland/Glamis County Road from Glamis is the access route. This road continues for about 10 miles to the wilderness’ eastern boundary. Access to the wilderness from Highway 78 is via Ted Kipf Road, a rough road composed of gravel and dirt. Owing to the fact that the road gets rougher towards the wilderness, visitors are advised to make use of four-wheel-drive vehicles.
There are other unofficial entrances into the wilderness area, but they are not recommended because the soft sand increases the likelihood of vehicles getting stuck.
Within the wilderness areas, the use of motorized vehicles and equipment is not allowed. So, as you approach the wilderness boundary, look out for signs and posts that indicate places where you can park your vehicle. Thereafter, you can continue the rest of your adventure on foot or on your horse. Wheelchairs are allowed within the wilderness.
There are no direct public transportation services to North Algodones Dunes Wilderness.
Salton Sea State Recreation Area is located northwest of North Algodones Dunes Wilderness on the shore of the Salton Sea. This SRA features several campgrounds that offer developed camping opportunities for visitors. Campsites accommodate tents and RVs/trailers and are available by reservation.
Full hookup options (electric, water, and sewer hookups) are available within the campsites. Amenities include picnic tables, toilets, showers, potable water, and dump station. The RV/trailer length limit is 40 feet.
Primitive campsites as well as group campsites are also provided. Pets are also allowed, but you should keep them under leash because sharp thorns and cactus grow in the sand. In addition, you are expected to clean up after your pets.
Imperial Wildlife National Refuge is a popular destination among primitive campers and visitors at North Algodones Dunes Wilderness. The chance to see parts of the Colorado River that are not channelized, marshes, upland desert habitats, and Colorado River backwaters make the refuge attractive to tourists. Besides these, the abundance of wildlife in the refuge encourages wildlife enthusiasts to visit the site. Beautiful vegetation and flora also decorate the refuge, making it great for photography and nature observation.
As a popular tourist attraction and recreation site in the area, Salton Sea is home to more than 100,000 visitors annually. A lot of recreational activities are open to visitors at the recreation area by the sea, including water-skiing, boating, hiking, fishing, and jet-skiing.
Sailboarding and birdwatching are also popular among enthusiasts in the park. In addition, there is a Visitor Center where video presentations, interpretive programs, and many other exciting activities are offered to visitors.
Imperial Sand Hills was designated in 1966 as one of the 36 National Natural Landmarks in the state of California. This is due to the fact that the dunes serve as an outstanding example of dune ecology and geology within an arid land. As a result, visitors at North Algodones Dunes Wilderness are attracted to this landmark for sightseeing and opportunities for photography. Imperial Sand Hills covers an area of 36 square miles.
North Algodones Dunes Wilderness has two distinct zones, namely the primary dunes (in the western area) and the secondary dunes (in the eastern area). Flora enthusiasts enjoy exploring the secondary dunes because sections of the dunes are interrupted by basins or flats, within which different vegetative species such as smoke trees, mesquites, paloverde, ironwood, and desert willows are found.
Nearby flora also includes drought-tolerant desert scrub, fan palms, creosote bush, cottonwoods, and several varieties of desert saltbush.
North Algodones Wilderness supports several animal species. As a result, wildlife viewing is common among visitors and campers in the park. As you stroll through the park, you will see desert tortoise, flat-tailed horned lizard, and the Colorado fringe-toed lizard. Within the secondary dunes, there is a very good chance that you will also see the Andres dune scarab beetle. Don't forget to bring your camera with you as you explore the park.
The Imperial Sand Dunes feature dunes that extend more than 40 miles along the eastern part of the Imperial Valley agricultural region. This dune system, known to be the largest mass of dunes in the State of California, rises to more than 300 feet above the desert floor and provides opportunities for off-highway vehicle (OHV) activity within two-thirds of its extent. As a result, OHV drivers love to visit the sand dunes for exciting and memorable rides across the vast expanse of sand.