Text Only
Sand Mountain Dunes

Home Browse Feedback FAQ's Search

Sand Mountain Recreation Area

Fees at Sand Mountain


Sand Mountain Recreation Area - located just north of U.S. Highway 50, "the loneliest road in America," 25 miles east of Fallon, Nevada.

Managed by the U. S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the sand dunes of the 4,795 acre recreation fee area provide challenge and excitement for off-highway vehicle riders, hikers & sandboarders. Many people visiting the area also take time to explore the historic 1860 Pony Express station and learn about the plants and animals of the Great Basin at the Sand Springs Desert Study Area.

There is a designated dry-camping area near the base of Sand Mountain. Two new vault toilets are provided, however, visitors should bring plenty of water for drinking and washing since none is available at the site. Campfires are permitted, but there is no wood available.

Spring and fall offer the best weather at Sand Mountain. Mid-winter months can be cold and wet and summer days can be hot, dry and windy.

Supplementary Rules for Sand Mountain Recreation Area

Pictures of Sand Mountain Recreation Area


Today more than 30,000 visitors come to Sand Mountain annually, up from only a few hundred per year in the 1970's. With this increase in visitors has come an increase in traffic, trash and vandalism. So that everyone can enjoy their stay, please show your respect for other people and the environment by being a good neighbor.


* Avoid riding in areas closed to motor vehicles.  These closures help prevent erosion and protect the plants, animals and historic resources found in the recreation area.

* Stay on the sandy dunes or on existing roads and trails.  Pioneering new trails in vegetated areas destroys native plants that are the only food and cover for species like the Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly.  Please Tread-Lightly by keeping to previously used dunes and trails.

* Camp only in designated areas.  Camping outside established areas destroys vegetation and allows non-native species of plants, such as Russian thistle, to flourish.

* Observe speed limits on roads and in the camp area.  Children are present!  Excess speed not only throws dust and sand into your neighbor's camp, it is dangerous.

* Keep a clean camp. Take your trash with you or use the dumpsters which are provided. Use a fire pan, such as a garbage can lid, for your campfire and dispose of the ashes when they have cooled. Dumping holding tanks on the ground is unsightly, unsanitary and illegal.

* Lock up your firearms.  Discharge of firearms within the Sand Mountain Recreation is extremely dangerous and strictly PROHIBITED. This rule is stringently enforced and violators will be cited.

* Report vandalism.  Each year vandalism causes thousands of dollars worth of damage and destruction. Repairs and replacement of facilities are paid for with your tax dollars. Help reduce vandalism by immediately reporting any illegal activities you may see to a BLM Ranger or the local Sheriff.


Only 10,000 years ago glaciers filled many of the valleys in the Sierra Nevada mountains to the west. The cool, wet climate and runoff from these glaciers had created an immense inland lake that covered much of what is now western Nevada. But as the climate grew warmer and the glaciers retreated, the lake slowly started to dry up. About 4000 years ago the lake level dropped below where Sand Mountain now stands.

Meanwhile quartz particles, which the glaciers had ground away from the hard Sierra granite, were washed down the Walker River and deposited in the river's delta. As the wind blew across the delta this sand was picked up and carried high into the air. More than thirty miles to the northeast, the wind was slowed by a large basin on the southwest flank of the Stillwater Range. With its force broken by the mountain, the wind's burden of sand would fall into this natural trap. Over the centuries Sand Mountain grew until it reached its present height of almost 600 feet.

The wind is constantly changing the shape of Sand Mountain and sometimes the shifting of the sand will produce a soft rustling, or even an eerie booming sound. This unique characteristic has earned Sand Mountain its nickname of "Singing Mountain".


* Razorbacks or slipfaces exist at the top of the mountain and many of the surrounding dunes. The mountain is constantly shifting. Be careful when you top out.

* Wearing your helmet, gloves and boots will help reduce injuries if an accident happens.

* Use of a fluorescent orange "whip flag," extending at least 8 feet above the ground level when the vehicle is stopped, is MANDATORY on ALL Off-Highway-Vehicles (OHVs) using the recreation area. Lighted whip masts should be used at night.

* Limit your speed to 15 mph around the camp area and 25 mph on all access roads. This will help prevent accidents and lessen road damage.

* Every year several accidents occur at Sand Mountain which result in serious injuries or death. Far too many of these accidents arc related to the use of alcohol.  PLEASE. . ."DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE!"

* Spark arresters are required on all OHV's. The use of spark arresters will greatly reduce the chance of fire. Plant life is sparse in the desert and wildlife depends on it to survive.

* An emergency telephone is located at the entrance to the recreation Area on U. S. Highway 50. The nearest hospital is in Fallon. Dial 911.

Be Safe & Have Fun


Bureau of Land Management
Carson City Field Office
5665 Morgan Mill Road
Carson City, Nevada 89701
This is a U.S. Government Computer System.
Before continuing, please read this
disclaimer and privacy statement.

If you notice any Accessibility (508) errors on this site, please tell us!