The 4,795 acre Sand Mountain Recreation Area is a designated OHV fee site located in the high desert of west central Nevada twenty-five miles southeast of Fallon on U.S. 50 in Churchill County. The Recreation Area is Managed by the U. S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
Sand Mountain is approximately 3.5 miles long, 1 mile wide and 600 feet in height, making it the largest single dune in the Great Basin. The recreation area also includes the Sand Springs Pony Express Station historical site (1860) and the Sand Springs Desert Study Area, which are both closed to off-road vehicles.
Elevation – 4000 – 4700 ft.
LATITUDE/LONGITUDE 39.293137 / -118.405341
There are three pit toilets and trash dumpsters are provided. There is no water available onsite.
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 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 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.
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.