Industry News

Safety at the Imperial Sand Dunes

Halloween weekend will be the first trip of the season for many visitors, and the dunes will be much different than they were in the spring. As a result of shifting prevailing winds seen over the summer, razorbacks and witches eyes are more common. The hot summer weather leaves less moisture in the sand resulting in extremely soft slip-faces and leeward dune-tops.

As always, visitors are cautioned to watch out for trick-or-treaters moving from camp to camp after dark. The ASA reminds all dune users about the importance of safety at the ISDRA. A free safety DVD called “Take Time Out For Safety” is available from the ASA’s web-site ( with more information.

The recent Mojave Desert Racing tragedy brings us to consider our own sand drags. Repeating this accident in the ISDRA would be nothing short of a true tragedy in many aspects. The ASA encourages everyone attending these areas to be alert while observing; no person should be closer than 75 feet from the vehicles on the course.

According to the law, the prima facie speed limit within 50 feet of any campground, campsite, or concentration of people or animals shall be under 15 m.p.h. unless changed as authorized by the code.

Where are you standing as you observe the drags? To comply with the letter of the law, if a drag strip is 40’ wide, it must have a 50’ buffer on each side, between it, and any spectators. Therefore, while vehicles are only allowed in a 40’ wide section in this example, the entire strip must be 140’ wide. This code is enforceable throughout the dunes and camping areas – not just at the sand drags.

Additional safety considerations when recreating at the dunes include riding within your abilities and knowing where you recreate; study a map or talk to those familiar with the area before venturing out. Maintain all vehicles and always ride with a partner or group; incidents can happen anywhere in the area, and many happen close to camp. Inform people of where you are going, and when you intend to be back. Carry basic supplies, the ASA recommends the following:

  • A GPS receiver.
  • A cell phone with emergency numbers programmed in.
  • Plenty of water.
  • Basic set of tools
  • Basic repair kit – spare fuses, length of insulated wire, zip ties, electrical tape, tire inflator/pump, tie wire.
  • Tow strap
  • First aid kit
  • Foil emergency blanket – provides shade from the sun or warmth when it’s cold
  • Glow sticks in case you’re stuck for the night
  • Hat or bandana

Remember, the “Take Time Out for Safety” video is available free of charge from the store on the ASA web site, BLM, ICSO or many sand related retailers.

Other important regulations at the ISDRA:

  • You can get a ticket for burning pallets or any wood containing metal hardware or nails.
  • It’s against the law to empty your gray or black holding tanks onto the ground.
  • Citations are being issued to parents of ATV riders who are not ASI safety certified and are not supervised by a parent or guardian.
  • Operating an OHV while under the influence of drugs or alcohol will earn the same DUI that one would receive in a car on any highway.
  • Having a properly mounted safety flag is required. (12 square inches 8′ above the ground).

For all the rules & regulations that apply to the ISDRA go to the BLM’s web site.

Important contact numbers for the ISDRA:
Sheriff: 760-339-6311
ICSO Dispatch: 760-339-6312
BLM Ranger: 760-344-3919
LEO Emergency: 909-383-5651

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