It might only be about 10,600 acres, but the sheer size of the dunes at St. Anthony are enough to make you think this famous location is larger than life. Famous for the massive bowls, steep hill climbs, and lava rock that can sometimes sneak up on riders in the small dunes, St. Anthony is one of the most visited riding locations in the Western states. If you have a passion for the sand, you need to come here.
Besides the massive dunes and endless hill climbs, the area is filled with wildlife and amazing sights, like Egin Lakes, which is nestled adjacent to the dunes. This year-round lake is an awesome place to hang out (vehicles are prohibited in the water) and enjoy a refreshing swim after a day of duning. The Egin Lakes Campground, which is BLM-run and the closest camping to the big dunes, sits right next to the lake. There are two other campgrounds, both of which offer full hookups and amenities for campers. Idaho Dunes RV is possibly the best-known, hosting many events throughout the summer and riding months, with primitive camping also available. Sand Hills Resort is farther out from the big dunes, but they have nice shaded sites available.
A side trip to Yellowstone National Park is not out of the question here; plan accordingly and be prepared to travel some desolate back roads. Visiting our nation's first national park is well worth the trip!
Please note, the 'big dunes' east of Egin Lakes are closed from January 1 to sunrise on April 1. The small dunes east of Egin Lakes are open all year, but be aware that they are likely to be covered in snow in wintertime.
Latitude/Longitude: 44.0037º N, 111.7950º W
Fees: Depends on which campground you choose. Reservations are recommended at Idaho Dunes RV (idahodunesrv.com) and Sand Hills Resort (sandhillsresortrv.com).
Open riding area: 10,600 acres
Landmarks to visit: Dead Horse Bowl, Choke Cherry Hill, Egin Lakes
The Christmas Valley Sand Dunes are probably the least known dunes on this top-10 list, but they are as fun to ride as any. They're located in a remote part of Oregon on your way from St. Anthony to Oregon Dunes on the coast.
There are 8,900 acres of open sand dunes ready for your riding enjoyment, and the dunes snake around some great natural areas. Some of these areas are closed to motorized use, including the adjacent private properties, but everything is clearly marked. This area can get dusty in the summertime, but it's a great place to ride some medium-size dunes.
One of the area's unique features is an ancient grove of ponderosa pines growing out of the northeast portion. Motorized vehicles are allowed through the forest on routes that are designated 'open'.
Latitude/Longitude: 43.2138º N, 120.2226º W
Open riding area: 8,900 acres
Landmarks to visit: Designated OHV routes through the ancient ponderosa pine forest
Broken up into three main riding areas - Coos Bay on the south side, Winchester Bay (Umpqua) in the middle section and Florence in the northernmost section - Oregon Dunes comprise 40 miles of coastline and include large dunes, flowing bowls, and some of the best two-track sand trails you'll ever ride in your life. What makes them great? The tracks snake through the tall trees to create epic adventures. Just be careful - blind crests and corners sometimes limit vision. Always be on the lookout for other vehicles.
Most of the trails are in the Coos Bay riding area, with a good number of open dunes mixed in. A more vast expanse of open dunes can be found in the Winchester Bay area, which has massive hill climbs reaching up to 500 feet tall. The northern dunes of Florence are the medium-size dunes of the bunch. The beach in Florence is open to riding, which is also true in Coos Bay but not in Winchester Bay. A short trip to each of the three sections is highly recommended, even though you'll have to pack up to get to each of them.
The things that keeps you smiling when you're here are the great dune formations, amazing riding, and epic ocean and forest views. This riding area might not have the big bowls like some of the others, but these three spots are so remarkable that you'll keep coming back for more.
Latitude/Longitude: 43.7097º N, 124.1790º W
Fees: Depends on the campground you choose.
Open riding area: 31,186 acres broken up into the three areas
Landmarks to visit: The beach! Also, riding next to lakes and trees is a thing of beauty - take it all in.