The weekend is considered to be one of the three busiest weekends of the season, drawing about five times what a weekend normally does in season, BLM Park Ranger Michelle Puckett said.
Many find Buttercup on the south end of the area to be the most family-friendly and is generally less crowded.
James Fuller of Phoenix came there for the weekend with his wife, children, in-laws and several neighbors.
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His oldest son, Jay Fuller, 13, has been riding off-highway vehicles since he was 2 and describes the dunes as “the best place on earth.”
“It’s letting my boys be boys. It’s being together and having a purpose,” his father said. “Kids get a little bored when you just camp and talk.”
“We just get away from the TV and the Xbox,” mother Katie Fuller added.
Their children ages 4 to 13 happily geared up to go for rides Sunday.
“We’re hoping it will teach them to drive so when they’re 16 it’ll be easier,” James Fuller added laughing.
Farther north, about two-thirds of the weekend visitors chose to ride around Glamis, Puckett said.
Some of the points are higher for viewing and riders can usually go faster there on flat areas.
“It’s like a choice of your new rollercoaster. It’s a lot of fun,” said Bob Yole of Tucson, Ariz.
“You get to go wherever you want to go.”
He’s has been coming monthly to Glamis for more than a decade and said it’s usually the inexperienced visitors that come for the holiday weekends that cause any problems.
Farther north is the Algodones Dunes Wilderness covering 26,000 acres where visitors can hike and camp, Puckett said. Mammoth Wash is the farthest north part of the area and is generally the least busy and most remote of all the riding areas.
Extra emergency medical services and law enforcement were on hand for the busy weekend, and visitors need to remember rules for visiting the dunes, BLM Interpretive Park Ranger Joya Szalwinski said.
A recreation permit is required for vehicles and can be purchased in advance more cheaply from a variety of chambers of commerce and businesses around the Valley as well as online. Safety flags are required for all off-highway vehicles too.
Helmets, seatbelts and harnesses should be used at all times while riding. It’s believed that two of the four people who have died at the dunes this season were people not wearing seatbelts or harnesses, Puckett said. Two of those deaths occurred this past weekend.
A fairly new rule this year includes the prohibition of pallet burning in order to keep leftover nails out of the riding areas, Szalwinski added.
Visit www.blm.gov/ca/isdra for more information on the dunes.
Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or firstname.lastname@example.org