El Mirage is an area administered by the Bureau of Land Management with cooperation from the state of California Parks and Recreation and a number of southern California counties. The focus at El Mirage is recreational and off-highway vehicle use as well as varied activities on the El Mirage Dry Lake. The area is divided into four general sections; the dry lake bed, the basin, the Shadow Mountains, and the Twin Hills.
The riding area is between US 395 and the Los Angeles County line west of the town of Adelanto (CA). Most visitors access the area from Adelanto from US 395 by taking Crippen Avenue west and following the signs toward the town of El Mirage. East of the main El Mirage community, Mountain View Road goes north from El Mirage Road into the El Mirage OHV Recreation Area. There is a sign at this intersection directing visitors into the area.
From Palmdale (CA), take Palmdale Boulevard east to 240th Street and turn north (left). At Avenue P, turn east (right). At the San Bernardino County line, Avenue P becomes El Mirage Road. Follow El Mirage Road through the community of El Mirage to Mountain View Road and follow the signs north to the riding area. There is a perimeter fence in place to discourage trespass from the riding area into the community of El Mirage.
Things To Do
Most of the visitors ride motorcycles or ATVs, or tour in four-wheel drive vehicles. There is a road network in place so visitors can camp in most of the sections of El Mirage. The area is also used extensively for competitive racing events and commercial filming by permit. Because of its unique flat surface, the El Mirage Lake Bed is the destination for many visitors. There is a lot of ultra-light and other aircraft activity that would not be found in other riding areas.
There are opportunities for hiking, rock scrambling, rock hounding, and plant, bird and wildlife watching. El Mirage has many desert tortoise, a state and federally listed threatened species. NOTE: There are many deep mine shafts in the riding area! Please avoid these areas and camp away from mine shafts!
El Mirage Lake Bed
The lake bed is a flat playa formed in an undrained basin. Silt and clay are deposited into this basin during heavy storms. When this "lake" dries, the hard pan dry lake bed is left. This hard, smooth surface is ideal for the unique activities conducted at El Mirage. These include ultra-light aircraft and gyrocopter flying, model rocketry, remote control airplane flying, landsailing and straight track racing. Many private pilots land on the lake bed and spend the day. The surface character has attracted the interest of many filming companies. A visit for the day will remind one of scenes from recent commercials, music videos, television series and movies. Camping is permitted on the lake bed, but no further than 100 feet from the edge. This keeps the smooth center section of the lake bed clear for night riders.
The basin between the lake bed and the Shadow Mountains is a creosote brush-covered area crossed by deep dry washes. This is where most of the off-highway vehicle riders do their riding. Along with casual recreational riding, many southern California OHV and motorcycle clubs stage "runs", and competitive races. Most of the riding is over easy terrain, but visibility is obscured by the six to ten foot tall creosote brush. There are many flat and secluded areas for camping in this area.
The Shadow Mountains
The Shadow Mountains are a group of eroded igneous peaks that border the northern edge of the riding area and run down the center section, east of the main access, Mountain View Road. These peaks offer moderate to hard riding terrain, and a challenge for the experienced rider. The canyons in these mountains make excellent camping areas, offering seclusion for the four-wheel drive camper.
The Twin Hills
The Twin Hills area is on the east side of the riding area between the little Shadow Mountain group and U.S. 395. This is another flat basin, punctuated by small mound-like hills. This area presently gets only light riding activity. There is camping possibilities in the area, but motorhome campers might find driving in the area difficult. There is unmarked access from U.S. 395, which is used occasionally by those familiar with the area.
Rules & Regulations
- THE LAKE IS CLOSED to vehicle travel WHEN WET OR MUDDY to keep the surface smooth for the various activities conducted on it.
- Camping is allowed anywhere with the riding area that does not block travel on a road and within 100 feet from the edge of the El Mirage Dry Lake; limited to a 14 day stay.
- Draining of holding tanks, littering and trash dumping is prohibited. Pack It In, Pack It Out!
- All vehicles must have a muffler or spark arrester and must be registered, either with a license tag or a California "green sticker" OHV registration (CA. Residents only),
- Vehicles being operated at night must have head lights and tail lights.
- Helmets are required on all ATVs! Also, there are no passengers allowed on ATVs.
- NO SHOOTING ALLOWED IN THE EL MIRAGE OHV AREA!
- Digging up or destroying trees and shrubs or harassing wildlife or livestock is prohibited.
- The desert tortoise is a federally protected species. Please do not handle or disturb these animals; Look but don't Touch!
- It is illegal to damage or destroy archeological sites or remove artifacts
- Dust generated by off road vehicle use may be unhealthy to some people, even to those outside the riding area.
-- Source: BLM