Phased Reopening of Vehicular Access at Oceano Dunes SVRA and Pismo SB FAQs

Posted on Feb. 25, 2021

Where is Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) and Pismo State Beach (SB) located?

When will Oceano Dunes SVRA and Pismo SB reopen to coastal vehicle access on the beach?

What services and restrictions will be in place during the three phases of the reopening?

Will I be able to ride my off-highway vehicle (OHV) in the dunes during the first phase of reopening?

Will camping be allowed at Oceano Dunes SVRA in the first phase of reopening?

Is it true that camping is permitted at Pismo SB?

Is Oceano Dunes SVRA the only state park unit starting reservations at zero?

What are the current COVID-19 visitor guidelines?

What is the department doing to restore OHV access at Oceano Dunes SVRA?

Can I operate my “Red Sticker” OHV?

What happens if OHV Day Use is sold out? Will I still be able to camp or enter the park?


Where is Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) and Pismo State Beach (SB) located?
Located along California’s coastline in San Luis Obispo County, midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Oceano Dunes SVRA and Pismo SB receive more than 2.2 million visitors annually for off-highway vehicle recreation, surf fishing, camping and other coastal recreation activities. Both units are adjacent to each other. The SVRA is popular for the unique experiences it provides to visitors, such as beach camping, OHV recreation and a myriad of aquatic activities. This popular destination is also home to the endangered Western snowy plover and the California least tern.

All parts of the SVRA are accessed through Pismo State Beach. Oso Flaco is the exception.

When will Oceano Dunes SVRA and Pismo SB reopen to coastal vehicle access on the beach?
California State Parks is using a three-phased vehicle access reopening plan for Oceano Dunes SVRA and Pismo SB designed to support a safe and healthy environment for employees, visitors and natural resources such as the endangered Western snowy plover and California least tern.

State Parks initiated phase one of the three-phased reopening plan for these popular public outdoor spaces on Oct. 30, 2020 and has observed successful balancing of vehicle access, environmental protections and public health protocols during that phase. In consultation with state and local public health departments and other regional public land managers, State Parks moved into phase two on Feb. 19, 2021, which allows a limited daily number of “street legal” vehicles to 1,000 per day and “Green Sticker” off-highway vehicles to 1,000 per day – for both park units. The department also reopened 100 campsites under the new phase at Oceano Dunes SVRA.

The date for phase III of the reopening plan has not been determined. During this last phase, State Parks will continue to expand day-use opportunities and camping inventory as environmental conditions allow and in alignment with state and local public health orders. Off-highway vehicle rental concession operations will resume. Details on the phased reopening plan can be read here.

Updates on all aspects of the phased-reopening plan will be posted on the Oceano District’s Twitter and Facebook social media accounts, and park unit webpages – ohv.parks.ca.gov/OceanoDunes and parks.ca.gov/Pismo.

The department strongly advises the public to plan ahead and find out what services are available and what restrictions are in place. This is especially true for the SVRA. The dune sands have shifted and topography has changed, creating a different terrain that riders and drivers will need to become familiar with to recreate responsibly.

What services and restrictions will be in place during the three phases of the reopening?
Below is a summary of the three-phased reopening plan for Oceano Dunes SVRA and Pismo SB:

Phase One
Began Oct. 30, 2020

  • Day Use Hours: Both park units will be open daily from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. for day use by visitors who can walk, bike or drive in with a “street legal” vehicle (e.g. jeeps or trucks).
  • Vehicle Access:
    • “Street legal” vehicles, such as jeeps and trucks, will be allowed on the dunes.
    • “Green Sticker” off-highway vehicles (OHV) will remain temporarily prohibited from entering the park at this time. Staff will monitor conditions and operations to determine when to restore “Green Sticker” OHV activity.
  • Visitation: As the State of California continues to protect Californians from the COVID-19 pandemic and for the protection of natural resources, the daily allowed number of “street legal” vehicles will be temporarily limited to 1,000 per day, for both park units. While State Parks does not anticipate this operational change to impact visitation since this is considered the off-season, over the next few weeks there may be instances where the maximum allowance of vehicles will be met and no further vehicles will be allowed to enter the beach due to the temporary capacity requirement.
  • Camping:
    • Oceano Dunes SVRA: During the initial reopening phase, no overnight camping opportunities will be provided at Oceano Dunes SVRA (beach camping area). Staff will monitor conditions and operations over the next few weeks to determine when to restore these experiences. The public is advised that when campgrounds reopen, they will do so at a reduced and limited capacity (100 sites) to support a safe and healthy environment for employees, natural resources and visitors.
    • Pismo SB: On September 21, developed campgrounds at Pismo SB reopened to visitors. Reservations are required. To book your reservation, please visit www.ReserveCalifornia.com
  • Reservations: Since the campgrounds at Oceano Dunes SVRA will not reopen at full capacity, the number of prior reservations in the system would exceed the reduced inventory under the phased reopening plan of the SVRA. In order to give everyone fair access to available camping, State Parks needs to restart the booking process at zero reservations. The department apologizes for the inconvenience as it continues to address operational considerations during COVID-19. Reservation cancellations and refunds will be automatic. As such, visitors do not need to take any action. Affected reservation holders will be contacted by ReserveCalifornia via email. Phase two of the phased-reopening plan will include the date new reservations can be made for Oceano Dunes SVRA.
  • Events: Special event applications are not being accepted at this time for both park units.
  • Concessions: These services will continue to be temporarily closed.

Phase Two
Scheduled to begin Feb. 19, 2021

  • Day Use Hours: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
  • Limited Vehicle Access:
      • “Street legal” vehicles, such as jeeps and trucks.
      • “Green sticker” off-highway vehicles.
  • Visitation: As the State of California continues to protect Californians from the COVID-19 pandemic and for the protection of natural resources, State Parks is limiting the daily allowed number of “street legal” vehicles to 1,000 per day and “Green Sticker” OHV to 1,000 per day -- for both park units. While State Parks does not anticipate this operational change to impact visitation since this is considered the off-season, there may be instances where the maximum allowance of vehicles will be met, and no further vehicles will be allowed to enter the beach due to the temporary capacity requirement.
  • Camping:
    • Oceano Dunes SVRA: A total of 100 campsites will be available.
    • Pismo SB: The North Beach Campground is temporarily closed due to recent storm impacts. Campsites for the developed Oceano Campground within Pismo SB are available for booking.
    • Reservations are required for both park units and must be made at least two days (48 hours) prior to arrival on ReserveCalifornia.com.
  • OHV Rental Concessions: These services will continue to be temporarily closed.

Phase Three
Date to be determined: State Parks expands day-use opportunities and camping inventory as environmental conditions allow and in alignment with state and local public health orders.

Drivers are advised that the dunes and topography changed during the closure of the park unit, creating unfamiliar terrain. All drivers are being asked to drive with care and provide shorebirds and pedestrians plenty of space as they enjoy the park. The speed limit on the beach is 15 miles per hour.

Visitation and physical distancing will be monitored at Oceano Dunes SVRA and Pismo SB and if unsafe conditions develop, access may be restricted again. The public is reminded to plan ahead, maintain the proper physical distance, avoid crowds and wear face coverings and limit the group to people from the immediate household. For additional OHV COVID-19 tips, please visit www.parks.ca.gov/SafetyTips.

Will I be able to ride my off-highway vehicle (OHV) in the dunes during the first phase of reopening?
Yes. Please read the following critical information:

  • Limited Vehicle Access:
    • “Street legal” vehicles, such as jeeps and trucks.
    • “Green sticker” off-highway vehicles.
  • Visitation: As the State of California continues to protect Californians from the COVID-19 pandemic and for the protection of natural resources, State Parks is limiting the daily allowed number of “street legal” vehicles to 1,000 per day and “Green Sticker” OHV to 1,000 per day -- for both park units. While State Parks does not anticipate this operational change to impact visitation since this is considered the off-season, there may be instances where the maximum allowance of vehicles will be met, and no further vehicles will be allowed to enter the beach due to the temporary capacity requirement.

Will camping be allowed at Oceano Dunes SVRA in the first phase of reopening?
Yes. Below is a breakdown of availability and how to make a reservation:

  • Oceano Dunes SVRA: A total of 100 campsites will be available.
  • Pismo SB: The North Beach Campground is temporarily closed due to recent storm impacts. Campsites for the developed Oceano Campground within Pismo SB are available for booking.
  • Reservations are required for both park units and must be made at least two days (48 hours) prior to arrival on ReserveCalifornia.com.

Is it true that camping is permitted at Pismo SB?
Yes. On September 21, 2020, developed campgrounds at Pismo SB reopened to visitors. Oceano Campground is open and reservations are required. North Beach Campground is temporarily closed due to a recent storm. To book your reservation, please visit www.ReserveCalifornia.com.

Is Oceano Dunes SVRA the only state park unit starting reservations at zero?
No, the process of cancelling all reservations and starting at zero reservations was implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic within the State Park System in order to give everyone fair access to available camping.

For more than 150 years, State Parks has provided opportunities for people from all over the world to connect with families, friends and communities in the nation’s largest state park system. This is the first time in the history of State Parks where safety measures such as vehicular access closures, full closures and cancellation of reservations and the reopening of park units and reservations have been implemented at this unprecedented scale. State Parks thanks its visitors for their partnership as we collectively enable responsible recreation that protects the health of visitors and the dedicated parks staff.

What are the current COVID-19 visitor guidelines?
Here are some visitor guidelines State Parks has implemented at state vehicular recreation areas to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the outdoors:

  • Stay Local: Stay close to home during this pandemic period. If you or anyone in your household is feeling sick, please remain at home and plan your trip for another time. 
  • Plan Ahead:The ongoing pandemic response continues to be dynamic and fluid. Prior to leaving home, check the webpage of your outdoor destination you plan to visit to find out if it is open, if parking is available, and what visitor guidelines are in effect. Additionally, find out what safety precautions you should take when exploring the outdoors at parks.ca.gov/SafetyTips to enjoy them safely.
  • Stay Safer at 6 Feet:No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Only travel/camp with those in your household. This means no guests or friends, and no gatherings or parties.
    • Boating: Do not raft up to other boaters or pull up onto a beach next to other recreators.
    • o   Off-highway Vehicle Recreation: Do not ride next to others or pull up next to someone else as it could put you in close proximity to others.
  • Stage Apart: Stage 10 feet or more from each other during unloading and loading.
  • Use Safety Equipment: Use proper equipment such as protective clothing, goggles, a proper helmet, gloves and spark arrestor.
  • Stay Clean:Be prepared as not all services may be available. Some restrooms will be temporarily closed to keep up with cleaning schedules. Bring soap/hand sanitizer. Please pack out all trash. Park units are experiencing heavy use and you can help alleviate the impact on park facilities.
  • Pack it In – Pack it Out: Do your part to keep outdoor places healthy and accessible for other users.
  • Avoid Alcohol: Do not drink and ride.
  • Natural Resources: Tread lightly and stay in designated routes. Stay out of closed areas.
  • Drive with Courtesy: Be prepared to yield any time there is doubt and you can safely do so. Approach curves and hill crests with caution. Assume there are vehicles ahead and slow your driving accordingly. Allow extra room and stopping distance when approaching other vehicles.
  • Stay Covered: The state requires you to wear a face covering when you cannot maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Individuals must have a face covering with them at all times.


For additional OHV COVID-19 tips, please visit www.parks.ca.gov/SafetyTips.

What is the department doing to restore OHV access at Oceano Dunes SVRA?
California State Parks is using a three-phased vehicle access reopening plan for Oceano Dunes SVRA and Pismo SB designed to support a safe and healthy environment for employees, visitors and natural resources such as the endangered Western snowy plover and California least tern.

State Parks initiated phase one of the three-phased reopening plan for these popular public outdoor spaces on Oct. 30, 2020 and has observed successful balancing of vehicle access, environmental protections and public health protocols during that phase. In consultation with state and local public health departments and other regional public land managers, State Parks moved into phase two on Feb. 19, 2021, which allows a limited daily number of “street legal” vehicles to 1,000 per day and “Green Sticker” off-highway vehicles to 1,000 per day – for both park units. The department also reopened 100 campsites under the new phase at Oceano Dunes SVRA.

Updates will be posted on the Oceano District’s Twitter and Facebook social media accounts, and park unit webpages – ohv.parks.ca.gov/OceanoDunes and parks.ca.gov/Pismo.

As the department works to restore vehicular access at Oceano Dunes SVRA and Pismo SB, visitors will notice some maintenance activity to prepare for public access. Activities will include Air Pollution Control District wind fence and restoration projects, critical facility maintenance activities and emergency access maintenance which may require the use of heavy equipment.

Can I operate my “Red Sticker” OHV?
Yes. “Green Sticker” and “Red Sticker” vehicles are currently allowed to operate within Oceano Dunes SVRA during phase two under a temporarily reduced use capacity.

What happens if OHV Day Use is sold out? Will I still be able to camp or enter the park?
There may be times when OHV day use capacities have been reached, even though camping or street legal day use capacitates have not. If OHV day use has reached its daily capacity, OHV vehicles will not be allowed to enter the park. Updates will be posted on the Oceano District’s Twitter and Facebook social media accounts.