Algodones Dunes

If I ever ask, “Would you like to go on an afternoon drive through the country?” you should probably respond with a resounding, “NO!” Unless, of course, you don’t mind spending 7 hours driving 317 miles.

That’s what I did this afternoon.

I was looking for something to do on the first day of my four day holiday weekend, and I was checking out Google Maps when I was reminded of the large sand dunes east of Brawley.

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Moonrise over Algodones Dunes

One of the compelling reasons to go this afternoon was to capture the full moon rising over the dunes just before sunset. But the closer I got, the more clouds filled the sky, and the likelihood of me capturing a great shot might not be there. I pressed on just to check out the dunes even if the clouds interfered.

On Google Maps, you take California Highway 78 east out of Brawley to reach the dunes. To the north of the highway is the Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area, a federally protected area where no vehicles are allowed. South of CA 78 is an entirely different story.

The dunes are open to off-road vehicles: dirt bikes, dune buggies, 4WD vehicles–anything that can gain traction in fine sand. Around the area are campgrounds with hundreds of off-roading enthusiasts with their monster motor homes with toy haulers. I really wasn’t expecting that.

On the one hand, it was fun to watch everyone scurrying about over the dunes; on the other, the noise in such a wonderfully scenic place was more than distracting.

Yes, it was a crazy trip for an afternoon drive in the country, but I learned a lot and I’ll definitely go back, perhaps when the weather cooperates with a clear view of the moonrise.

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