RVing and Dirt Biking: A Trip Guide

Quad bikes on a dune in Glamis.

I first got into dirt biking when I was just a kid, and I got pretty lucky. My parents were totally on board with taking me to cool new parks and trails to ride and improve my skills. Our family even got a Jayco Octane T26Y Toy Hauler, which made it possible to pack more gear and take my friends along for weekend trips with us. Now that I’m 18, I’m dreaming about saving up to buy my own Toy Hauler one day, to continue our family tradition and explore tracks and trails all over the country.

But for now, here are some of my favorite places to ride, and a couple that are at the top of my list to get to next:

The rippling sand dunes of Imperial County, California.

1. Imperial Sand Dunes, Imperial County, California (aka Glamis) 

Growing up, a trip to Glamis was always one of my favorite things to do. My family took our first trip out there in 2011, and I was still so young I was only on my second-ever bike, a Yamaha YZ 85. The dune system extends 40 miles, so there’s tons of open riding across nice, smooth sand. But the dunes themselves can reach 300 feet in height above the desert floor, which means there are tons of great jumps and bowls for adventurous riders.  It’s just a really special vibe.

We like to take our Jayco Toy Hauler out here, packed with bikes and friends, and ride around together. The scenery is great, and there are tons of rare plants and animals hiding out here if you’re eagle-eyed. And with so much space, there are plenty of options to chill together or go off on your own for a little solitude. The North Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area is a cool alternative to the buzz of the main dunes, and open only to people on foot or on horse. 

So whether you’re looking for speed, peace and quiet, or a little bit of both, Glamis will probably jump to the top of your list of favorites. It’s definitely at the top of mine. 

2. Stoddard Wells Off-Highway Vehicle Area (OHV), Barstow, California 

We first visited Stoddard Wells OHV when I was 12 years old. The camping out there is awesome, with lots of open land and a dry desert climate, perfect for hanging out and riding. With so much open space, it’s easy to bring our RV full of friends and still have room to spread out in our down time. This is definitely one of my top favorite places to ride with friends. 

The trails and dirt conditions are perfect for all kinds of rides and all kinds of ability levels. There are ragged mountains, rolling hills and valleys, and sandy trails that wind and twist. The eastern part of the park and the mountains are more advanced, while the wide open spaces in the center of the park are great for beginners. With 53,000 acres, there’s something for everyone in your crew. 

There’s even a desert tortoise that lives in this part of the state. It’s a federally-listed threatened species, so keep a look out for this little guy while you enjoy the desert landscape.

A quad bike rider throwing up sand at Oceano Dunes.

3. Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA), San Luis Obispo, California 

I haven’t been to Pismo dunes yet, but the videos I’ve seen make the place look incredible. Like Glamis, Pismo Beach provides ideal camping spots along wet dunes that make for prime dirt biking. The scenery here would be an incredible background for snapping action shots of jumps and tricks––a nice change of pace from the desert landscapes I tend to ride. There’s nothing like whizzing past a palm tree to set a laid back vibe. 

In addition to off-roading, Pismo Beach makes a great camp spot because you can surf, swim, fish and hike within the same park. For RVers, there’s a dump station inside the park, making it a convenient spot to boondock. And if you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, you can camp right on the beach and watch the sunset light up the Pacific every night. 

As of spring 2020, small parts of the park are closed to off-roaders to help control air quality inside the park, so be sure to do your research before you plan a trip.

Two dirt bike riders getting air at Washougal Motocross Park.

4. Washougal Motocross (MX) Park, Washougal, Washington

Every year in Washougal, Washington, professional racers gather for the Pro MX Championship at Washougal MX Park. And even though we’ve never made it up to the three day camping bash, I’ve always dreamed of taking my bike to the track and riding it myself. The dirt conditions at the track are unbeatable, it’s super well-maintained. 

Call it a dream trip: packing up our home on wheels with a bunch of friends, driving north, and camping out to ride one of the best motocross tracks in the country would be so sick. We’d go for the pro races and hang out a few days after, just taking jumps, shooting photos and making the memories of a lifetime. 

A dusty desert landscape at Ocotillo Wells SVRA.

5. Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area, San Diego County, California

The first time I ever rode a dirt bike was at Ocotillo, on our first family family trip to the area. I was six years old, clinging to a quad, both a little nervous and a lot excited. Ocotillo Wells SVRA has an impressive 85,000 acres you can explore on your dirt bike, making it the biggest SVRA in the state of California. They don’t charge for camping or day use, so you can access this paradise totally for free. 

There are tons of noteworthy places inside the park but two stand out for riding: Blowsand Hill and Devil’s Slide. Blowsand Hill is a huge dune formed by the wind that whips over the desert, and is one of the most popular spots in the park. People love to ride it at all hours of the day, and when the sun goes down, you can almost always find it surrounded by a circle of vehicles shining their headlights on the hill for nighttime access. Devil’s Slide is a 200-foot-high island made of sand and granite, the perfect challenge for dirt biking enthusiasts. Along the mountainside, there are all these old mine shafts that people say are haunted, which gives it an otherworldly vibe near dusk. 

It’s all open land out here, but there are tons of fun little tracks and jumps you can discover––perfect for riders of all abilities. It’s a great camping spot, with plenty of room for us to bring our Toy Hauler, packed full of gear. There are no water hookups, but there are vault toilets, fire rings and picnic tables for camping out. Just remember to pack enough snacks and bring backup batteries for charging your phones and you’re good to go!

Plan this trip yourself:

See all the locations mentioned above and start planning your road trip.