Industry News Ride Spot

Ride Spot – Sand Mountain Recreation Area

Sand Mountain, NV

Located in Churchill County, just north of U.S. Highway 50, “The Loneliest Road in America,” Sand Mountain is 25 miles east of Fallon, Nevada. Managed by the U. S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the sand dunes of the 4,795 acre recreation fee area provide challenge and excitement for off-highway vehicle riders, hikers & sandboarders.

Created by the migration and deposition of windblown sand as it is stopped by the rising Stillwater Mountains bordering to the north, east and west, the most dominant feature of the dune system is Sand Mountain which is approximately 3.5 miles long, 1 mile wide and 600 feet in height, making it the largest single dune in the Great Basin.

Sand Mountain Recreation Area is a designated fee site. Fees are set at $40 for 1-7 days and $90 for an annual pass.

Camping: Primitive camping is available at the base of the dunes and facilities are limited to six fault toilets. Water is not available on site.

Elevation:  4000 – 4700 ft.

GPS: 39.293137 / -118.405341

BLM Carson City: 775-885-6000


There are three pit toilets and trash dumpsters are provided. There is no water available onsite.

Sand Mountain Recreation Area Fees:

Sand Mountain Recreation Area is a designated fee site. Fees are set at $40 for 1-7 days and $90 for an annual pass. 

Sand Mountain Recreation Area

Sand Mountain Recreation Area Fee Station

Sand Mountain Recreation Area Rules:

  • Camp only in designated areas.
  • 8ft. whip flags are required on all vehicles riding in the dunes.
  • Do not burn wood containing nails, screws or other metal hardware.
  • Burning tires is prohibited.
  • Speed limit is 15mph in camping areas.
  • Discharge any firearms, fireworks, or projectiles is not allowed.
  • Possess or use any glass cup or bottle is not allowed.
  • Do not dump gray or wastewater.
  • Users must pay fee.
  • Avoid riding in areas closed to motor vehicles.
Sand Mountain Recreation Area

Sand Mountain Recreation Area Rules

Halloween Weekend

Halloween weekend has become the busiest time to visit Sand Mountain in Nevada.  The camping area is literally packed to capacity so if you are thinking about going, arrive early. Trick-or-Treating is typically on Saturday night unless Halloween actually falls on a Friday and there is also a light parade.

Where Did the Sand Come From?

About 10,000 years ago, a giant inland sea, now known as Lake Lahontan, covered some 8,500 square miles including most of northern and central Nevada and parts of Oregon, Utah, California and Idaho.

The lake was formed from the melting of the great glaciers that once covered much of North America and has been described not as a solid body of water but a series of long arms.

In the intervening years, the sea has receded. All that remains are Pyramid and Walker lakes and a handful of dry lake beds such as the Humboldt and Carson sinks, the Black Rock Desert and Winnemucca Lake, near Pyramid Lake.

Sand Mountain was created when sand from surrounding flats, once part of the bottom of ancient Lake Lahontan, was blown against nearby mountain walls. Over centuries, the sand accumulated into a huge pile. The prevailing southwest wind continues to push the sand to the northeast and into Dixie Valley.

Videos from Sand Mountain Nevada

Sand Mountain Photos

Sand Mountain Nevada

Watching the sunset from Monument Point

Sand Mountain Nevada

View from the east side of of Sand Mountain

Sand Mountain Nevada

Winter can be very cold at Sand Mountain and snow isn’t out of the question.

Sand Mountain Nevada

Whoops leading out to the old windmill

Closed Areas

In addition to OHV riding on the open dunes, there are 23 miles of riding available on the designated trail system that was established in 2008 to preserve the Kearny Buckwheat habitat and protect the Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly which is endemic only to the Sand Mountain area.

Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly

The Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly is a sensitive species that depends on a plant called Kearny Buckwheat for survival.

Sand Mountain Recreation Area is home to the Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly (Euphilotes pallescens arenamontana) which has been designated as a sensitive species. This butterfly is known to exist only at Sand Mountain,  and is closely associated with its host plant, the Kearney buckwheat (Eriogonum nummulare) which grows within the dune system. This wild buckwheat is the only food source for the butterfly larvae. The larvae grow into pupae, which mature in the layer of leaves that fall from the plant. Kearney buckwheat also provides nectar for adult butterflies during their emergence between mid-July and mid-September. Individual Sand Mountain blue butterflies have a life span of only about a week during this period.

Desert Ride from Sand Mountain, NV

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