Approximately eight miles wide and 40 miles long, the Algodones Sand Dunes system is one of the largest dune complexes in North America. Still, only a relatively small section north of State Highway 78 has been designated Wilderness, while the rest hosts an abundance of outdoor recreational vehicle traffic. The Wilderness lies divided into two distinct zones: the primary dunes on the west side and the secondary dunes on the east. The former are taller and larger, and composed of noticeably coarse sand. The latter are smaller, made up of finer sands that are periodically shifted even farther east by prevailing winds. The secondary dunes are interrupted in places by basins or flats, where you'll find mesquite, smoke tree, ironwood, paloverde, and desert willows. Streams draining from the nearby Chocolate Mountains to the north flow to the edge of the dunes in spring, and form pools where the sand acts like a dam. The area supports the flat-tailed horned lizard, desert tortoises, and the Colorado fringe-toed lizard. In the fine sands of the secondary dunes, you may see the Andrews dune scarab beetle. As you cross the trailless expanse of the dunes, of course carrying plenty of water, you can be assured of an unforgettable desert experience.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the North Algodones Dunes Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.
California Desert Protection Act of 1994 - Public Law 103-433 (10/31/1994) "California Desert Protection Act of 1994" An Act to designate certain lands in the California Desert as wilderness, to establish the Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks, to establish the Mojave National Preserve, and for other purposes.