Off Roading in California From North to South


Among the State of California’s over 270 parks and recreation areas, one type of park is of special interest to thrill-seekers who love to feel the wind on their skin, driving off-road machines through the dirt and sand.

There are around 8 off-road, all terrain vehicle parks throughout California spanning the length of the state from Oroville in the north to Calexico/Mexicali’s Heber Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) 3 miles north of the Mexico border in the U.S. This park contains sand dunes, a favorite for exciting rides. The only park overlooking the Pacific Ocean that also contains sand dunes is the Oceano Dunes SVRA near Pismo Beach (shown in photo). The beach where this is located also is one of our favorites, allowing beach bonfires.

As the hot, dry desert begins to cool, winter is an excellent time to visit the Southern California desert dunes at Heber and also Ocotillo Wells SVRA. Ocotillo Wells features 40,000 acres of desert off-road exploration on the western boundary to the half-million acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, which is closed to off-road recreation. Ranging from Devil’s Slide,
a 200 foot-high granite and sand island to a Halloween favorite, Pumpkin Patch, which is the result of wind and water erosion that reveals globular sandstone concretions, the SVRA parks that appeal to adventuresome individuals and families offer the perfect autumn getaways.

This activity is open to families with kids who don’t own a California drivers license and are underage with proof of a ATV Safety Certificate.

Some ATV rental companies provide chaperons to comply with certification, or you can spend about 90 minutes at your computer (go to and get a online ATV Training Certificate for you and four kids. This will give you a license to ride in California. Be sure to print out the temporary ATV Safety Certificate so you can present it when renting for your kids. You also can contact ASI ( to see where they are offering an ASI Training Courses.

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