Off-Highway Vehicle Sand Duning Tips

Tread Lightly Principles | Sand Duning Tips | Trails & Maps

Tread Lightly! Quick Tips for Responsible Sand Duning

 Travel responsibly on designated roads and trails or in permitted areas.

  • Travel only in areas open to off-highway vehicles (OHV).
  • In areas adjacent to sand dunes, travel on designated roads and trails.
  • Obey all speed limits – reduce speed below 15 miles per hour near campgrounds, campsites, and people.
  • Dunes are constantly changing—use stationary landmarks or a GPS to help you navigate.
  • Watch for ravines, depressions (witches eyes), and steep drop offs (slipface and razorbacks) formed by blowing sand.
  • Use a spotter when jumping hills or dunes.
  • Scout areas before traveling at higher speeds.
  • Reduce speed in blowing sand or whiteout conditions.
  • In coastal duning areas, watch for quicksand in low areas between dunes.
  • Comply with all signs and barriers.
  • Buddy up with two or three riders. Riding solo can leave you vulnerable if you have an accident or breakdown. Designate meeting areas in case of separation.

Respect the rights of others including private property owners and all recreational trail users, campers and others to allow them to enjoy their recreational activities undisturbed.

  • Be considerate of others on the dunes.
  • Leave gates as you find them.
  • If crossing private property, be sure to ask permission from the landowner(s).
  • Do not idly ride around in camping, picnicking, or residential areas.
  • Make no wake – slow down in “Courtesy Speed Zones” around crowds and camping areas.
  • Keep the noise down.

Educate yourself by obtaining travel maps and regulations from public agencies, planning for your trip, complying with signage and barriers, and knowing how to use and operate your equipment safely.

  • Obtain a map of your destination and determine which areas are open to motorized vehicles.
  • Make a realistic plan, and stick to it. Always tell someone of your travel plans.
  • Contact the land manager for area restrictions, closures, and permit requirements. 
  • Check the weather forecast before you go.
  • Prepare for the unexpected by packing a small backpack full of emergency items.
  • Wear a helmet, eye protection, and other safety gear when riding off-highway motorcycles or ATVs.
  • Buckle up when riding sand rails, “side by sides/UTV, and four wheeling vehicles.
  • Sand rails, “side by sides/UTV, and four wheeling vehicles should always carry a fire extinguisher.
  • Know your limitations. Watch your time, your fuel, and your energy.
  • Take an OHV safety-training course. It provides a fast-paced, half-day, hands-on training session on vehicle operation and safety. 
  • Make sure your OHV is mechanically up to task. Be prepared with tools, supplies, spares and a spill kit for trailside repairs.

Avoid sensitive areas such as meadows, lakeshores, wetlands and streams, unless on designated routes. This protects wildlife habitat and sensitive soils from damage.

  • Avoid dunes adjacent to rivers, streams, and lakes.
  • Avoid disturbing historical, archeological, and paleontological sites
  • Avoid running over plants; it is damaging to your vehicle and the environment.
  • Avoid “spooking” wildlife you encounter and keep your distance.
  • Motorized and mechanized vehicles are not allowed in areas designated as Wilderness.

Do your part by leaving the area better than you found it, properly disposing of waste, minimizing the use of fire, avoiding the spread of invasive species and restoring degraded areas.

  • Don’t litter in the dunes! Blowing sand hides trash—only to reappear later. 
  • Carry a trash bag on your vehicle and pick up litter left by others.
  • Practice minimum impact camping by using established sites and camping 200 feet from water resources and trails.
  • In areas without toilets, pack solid waste out. Sand has no viable microorganisms to break down human solid waste.
  • Spark arrestors are required on all OHV’s traveling on public lands.
  • Protect the soundscape by preventing unnecessary noise created by a poorly tuned vehicle or revving your engine without need. Use proper silencers on exhausts, which meet regulatory decibel levels.
  • Following a ride, wash your OHV and support vehicle to reduce the spread of invasive species.
  • Don’t mix riding with alcohol or drugs.

 Source: Tread Lightly!


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Tread Lightly Principles
Sand Duning Tips
Trails & Maps


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