Most people drive past Dumont Dunes on their way to Death Valley and wonder, “Are those giant sand dunes out there?” Yes, they are in fact sand dunes, and they are tall, steep, and incredibly fun to traverse in a dune buggy, side-by-side, dirt bike, or quad. Dumont Dunes Off-Highway Vehicle Area is located about 31 miles north of Baker, California and is accessible via Dumont Dunes Road. The dunes rise above the desert floor to create a towering, sandy, off-roading playground, and they are surrounded by rocky, dirt trails that jet out into the surrounding Mojave desert. I’ve camped at Dumont Dunes many, many times—my family embarks on a yearly memorial camping trip and occasionally we will head to Dumont Dunes to ring in the new year. So if it’s your first time making the trip to Dumont Dunes or your 20th time, here are my favorite camping spots and a few tips to make your trip memorable.
Every time I’ve camped at Dumont Dunes I always camp at or near the same two spots, and it’s quite beautiful because of the views of the adjacent sand dunes. A quick note about driving out to find your camping spot—once you leave the main dirt road, the sand is very soft. You’ll want to keep your foot on the gas and avoid stopping until you reach your camping spot. It’s worth it to take a look at the terrain on google maps before you go and try to set a pin where you want to camp, that way you can share your exact GPS coordinates with the rest of your group. In a pinch, there are vault toilets that act as landmarks in case you don’t have the coordinates.
Spot #1 is my ideal camping spot because it’s closer to the big sand dunes and has unobstructed views of those towering monsters. It’s a bit farther out than Spot #2, but worth it!
Spot #1: Closer to the big dunes, near toilet #7
GPS Coordinates: 35.689568, -116.231825
Spot #2 is my second choice. It sits a little farther back from the big dunes and there is a smaller dune that separates the camping area from the big dunes. You’ll still have an incredible view of the big dunes.
Spot #2: Closer to the pay station, between toilets #5 and #6
GPS Coordinates: 35.687982, -116.237667
Most people bring their RVs and trailers to dry camp, but it is possible to tent camp. There are vault toilets scattered throughout the main camping areas, and you’ll want to bring your own water and shade shelter. It costs $20 to camp for the week, and there’s a pay station when you drive in on Dumont Road.
Thinking about heading out to Dumont Dunes this fall or winter? Here’s my list of Dumont Dunes essentials:
// Entrance Fee – There’s a pay station at the entrance to Dumont Dunes, so plan on bringing $20 to cover your camping fee for the week.
// Water – There’s no running water in Dumont Dunes, so be sure to bring your own. These are the water jugs I like to use; you can set them on a table and they have an easy-to-use spigot. Even when we RV camp in Dumont Dunes, we bring a few of these extra water jugs.
// Map – DumontDuneRiders.com has the best collection of dune maps that show all the camping areas, OHV areas, pay station, toilets, and the locations and names of the notable dunes.
// Off-road Vehicles – Quads, dirt bikes, dune buggies, RZRs, Jeeps, anything! A whip is required for all OHVs. (If you like night rides, check out these lit whips!)
// Kites – Dumont Dunes is notorious for its high-powered winds, so if you’re bringing kids along (and you should, my kids love it) plan on packing a kite for those windy afternoons. A huge kite like this is super fun and this single-line parafoil kite flies incredible and comes in a convenient, compact stuff-sack bag.
// Baby Play Yard – Babies love camping! My kids started camping when they were eight weeks old, and they’ve come along with my husband and I for every desert camping trip since they were born. There’s more prep and planning when you’re bringing a baby, and this Summer Infant Pop N’ Play Foldable Play Yard was one of the most useful baby camping items I ever bought. It folds up to about the size of a standard folding camp chair, and it keeps your baby safe from crawling too far from camp or from eating too much dirt. We always supervised our kids when they were playing in the play yard, and they loved it!
// Sand Toys – This is another must-have for the kiddos. If your kids enjoy playing at the beach, they’ll love playing with their sand toys in Dumont Dunes. The sand is super soft and smooth, and if you camp at or near Spot #1, there’s a small dune that borders the campsite and makes for a really fun hill for kids to climb up and down all day.
// Extra Fuel – It’s a hassle to leave the dunes and refuel, so plan on bringing a few gas cans so you don’t have to worry about running out.
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