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Ocotillo Wells SVRA

Welcome to Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area!

More than 85,000 acres of magnificent desert are open for off-highway exploration and recreation within the boundaries portrayed on the park map are operated by California State Parks, OHMVR Division. Outside the boundaries, to the south and east, large tracts of BLM land (U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management) are also open to off-highway vehicles. The western boundary and part of the northern boundary connect with the 600,000-acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, which is closed to off-highway recreation, but open to exploration by highway-legal vehicles along established primitive roads.

General Plan Update

Thank you to everyone who provided comments on the preliminary goals for the Ocotillo Wells SVRA General Plan. To stay informed on the next steps and future opportunities to provide input, please visit the General Plan website for updates.


The rangers and staff of Ocotillo Wells are dedicated to providing a safe and enjoyable desert riding environment, and to ensuring that a quality experience remains available for future generations.

No fees are collected for camping or day use. Open camping is permitted throughout the unit for up to 30 days per calendar year. Vault toilets, shade ramadas, picnic tables, and fire rings are located in the Quarry, Main Street, and Holmes Camp areas. Water is not available. Vehicle repair shops, telephones, groceries, hotels, motels, RV parks, and restaurants are available in the surrounding communities of Borrego Springs, Ocotillo Wells, and Salton City.

Fuel is available in the communities of Borrego Springs and Salton City.

Destinations

Below are suggested destinations in the park for off-highway vehicles with high-clearance and 4-wheel capability or all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). You can spend a few hours or all day visiting these destinations, depending on your pace. If you have limited time, save the remotely located Pumpkin Patch and Gas Domes for another day.

BLOWSAND HILL
Wind-blown sand is a highly effective agent of abrasion, as anyone who has been in a sandstorm will agree. Wind is one of the few agents that can and do carry material uphill. Here, the wind carries sand for miles before piling it up into this huge dune. Perhaps the most popular spot in the park, Blowsand is illuminated by a circle of headlights on many weekend nights.

DEVIL’S SLIDE
This 200 foot-high granite and sand island is named for the challenge it presents to the OHV enthusiast. It is actually an ancient decomposing mountaintop. A dark coat of desert varnish covers the rocks as a result of exposure to sunlight. There are several old hidden mine shafts along the mountainside. The mines are said to be haunted. People have reported seeing flickering lights near the mines at night after a rainfall.

BARREL SPRINGS
These mesquite sand dunes are an oasis for wildlife. The springs seep from the ground, especially after a heavy rain. Coyotes often dig holes to drink. Part of the area is designated as a cultural preserve. Archeological investigations indicate that several Native American groups and early settlers used the area. The shade and availability of water made it a convenient spot to rest, to meet, and to trade goods. Some of the dunes have been fenced to allow for natural restoration. Please do not ride close to the edge of the dunes as this kills the mesquite roots. Without these shrubs, the sand dunes would blow away.

SHELL REEF
Park beneath the reef and examine the soil. You will find not rock or sand but fragments of fossilized oyster shells. Look closer and you will find entire shells and even pieces of the reef which have fallen down the slope. The reef is estimated to be 4 million years old! It was pushed out of an ancient sea during a time of tremendous upheaval when the distant mountain ranges where formed. Please help preserve the reef. Find other “hills” to climb, and encourage others to do the same.

GAS DOMES
These mysterious waterholes produce large gas bubbles that rise up through muddy water. The water travels to the surface, emerging through a natural crack in the desert floor.

PUMPKIN PATCH
This unique landscape is the result of wind and water continuously eroding the surface soil and revealing these globular sandstone concretions. Such concretions are believed to be formed by the natural cementing of sand particles to a small object such as a piece of shell, a grain of sand, or even an insect. Please help preserve the Pumpkin Patch and the nearby ridges where new pumpkin-size desert “pearls” are emerging.

LOST OR INJURED PERSON
If a member of your party becomes lost, don’t panic. Make a note of where the person was last seen and at what time. Locate a Ranger either in person or call the Discovery Center during business hours. The Rangers know how to conduct search and rescue operations. If possible, send someone to find a Ranger. Most business establishments in the Ocotillo Wells area know how to contact a Ranger quickly. Park Rangers are the closest source of help, and are usually the first professionals to arrive at an accident scene.

Camping

Ocotillo Wells is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Open camping is available throughout the park for up to 30 days per calendar year. Camping is not permitted at Shell Reef, Devils Slide, Blowsand Hill, The Notches, or 4X4 Training areas. There is limited camping East of Poleline Road. If you are in a self-contained vehicle with holding tanks, fill your tanks before you arrive—water filling stations are not available. Also, the park does not have a dump station for your waste water disposal.

Vault restrooms and limited shade ramadas are located in the Quarry, Cove, Main Street, Holly Road, and Hidden Valley areas. Pay showers are available on Ranger Station Road, on Main Street, and in Homes Camp. The showers now accept quarters. One quarter provides 2 minutes of hot water; four quarters provides 8 minutes of hot water. Quarters are available at the Discovery Center. Note: Pricing could change.