The North Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area offers dispersed camping throughout the BLM-managed wilderness area for 14 days at a time. North Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area is a series of sand dunes that are part of the largest sand dunes complex in North America, and is located on the eastern end of Southern California. While the big attraction to the area are the mezmorizing sand dunes, North Algodones is not all dry, life-less sand dunes. There are a number of areas accessible for hiking that contain palo verde and mesquite trees among other plant life. Also, there are a number of local inhabitants – snakes, lizards, and insects – which you should be on the lookout for.

North Algodones Dunes is great place to backpack and camp if you are looking for solitude, as the area is pretty vast and you will likely not run into another person while you are there. Most of the people that come to California’s dunes are looking for an OHV area, which can be found just south of North Algodones at Imperial Sand Dunes and Glamis.

The best places to camp are going to be on the eastern end of the wilderness area, this is where many of the flat basins are, which contain more solid and stable ground. All of the camping at North Algodones Dunes is backcountry camping and you should come prepared; bring plenty of water. Vehicles are not permitted in the wilderness area. There are no amenities at North Algodones. Firewood collection is prohibited.

Inexperienced backcountry campers and people not familiar with the harsh desert environment should not camp here. Be on the lookout for poisonous snakes among other things.

North Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area Features

Campground Type: Dispersed
Number of Campsites: Virtually Unlimited
  • $50/Week from October 1 – April 1
  • $150/Season from October 1 – April 1
  • Permits may be purchased off-site at vendors or on-site at the ranger stations
Use Level: Very Low
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Fire Rings: None
Drinking Water: None
Toilets: None
Showers: None
Trash/Dumpsters: None – Pack it out
Hiking Access: Yes
Beach/Lake Access: None
RV/Trailer Length: RVs not allowed
RV/Trailer Amenities: None
Cell Phone Service: None
Wifi: None
Operating Season: Campground open year-round

Getting There

Geo Coordinates: 33.003710, -115.109014
Nearest City/Town: Brawley, California
Elevation: 100 – 400 Feet
Location: Imperial County, California
Paved Road Access: None
Proximity to Stores: Approximately 30 Miles to Brawley, CA depending on where you camp
Located north of State Highway 78, the wilderness extends from the east side of the Coachella Canal to the town of Glamis. Access the east side of the Dunes from Glamis on the Niland/Glarnis County Road, which continues for approximately 10 miles and forms the eastern boundary of the wilderness.


Phone: (760) 337-4400 Facebook:
Web: Bureau of Land Management – El Centro Twitter:
Reservations: Not Accepted – First-come, First-served

When To Go

Spring – Springtime brings warmer, but not hot weather to North Algodones Dunes. It also brings plentiful wildflower blooms, especially to the basins between the dunes.

Do not camp here in the summer. Temperatures usually exceed 100 degrees daily.

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What To Do

Hiking – The basins located between the sand dunes make great day hikes and provide opportunities for exploring, just be sure to take water.

Image Credits:  Marshal Hedin via Flickr

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Justin is an IT Professional, focused on cloud, mobile, and infrastructure management and security with his consulting business, as well as chief bottle washer for this website. In addition to, Justin also runs and writes for the technology infrastructure-focused blog, and the mobile device-focused blog


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