Explore These 300 ft Sand Dunes in Arizona

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A person jumps at the top of a sand dune.

You likely think of cactus, red rocks, and the Grand Canyon when you think of Arizona. What you may not realize is that you can also visit sand dunes in Arizona.

Children and adults can enjoy this fun experience. Today, we will look at where to go in Arizona if you want an unforgettable dune experience and where you can stay to keep the fun going. 

Where Are the Sand Dunes in Arizona? 

The Imperial Sand Dunes in Yuma, Arizona, are the most well-known. These massive hills provide endless recreation for travelers and locals. 

While most know of these dunes, Arizona does feature some other lesser-known dunes that provide a natural playground worth visiting. One of these places is just outside Quartzite called Ehrenberg Sandbowl. This is a well-known off-roading spot. 

Heading to the New Mexico side of the state, you’ll find the Hot Well Dunes covering over 2,000 acres. Parker Dunes found in west-central Arizona are great for hiking and exploring as it has a lot of vegetation, making them unsuitable for sandboarding. 

Where Can I Ride Sand Dunes in Arizona? 

While looking at the impressive dunes is awe-inspiring, the real fun comes in playing on them. Some are better than others. Ones covered in vegetation work for hiking and exploration but don’t give you a rideable experience. 

One great place to ride is the Hot Well Dunes. This is a great spot if you plan to spend your time in the state’s eastern portion. You can slide down the hills, and the area provides a great place to camp near the action. As a bonus, you can also play in the dunes during the day and relax in hot tubs in the evening. 

If you want to ride the dunes, it doesn’t get much better than heading to Yuma to explore the vast Imperial Sand Dunes. You’ll have miles of dunes that tower up to 300 ft, giving both sand boarders and off-roaders an endless playground.

A woman gets read to board down a sand dune.

Traveler’s Tip: Head out to Grand Falls in Arizona and see why they’ve earned the nickname “chocolate” falls!

About Imperial Sand Dunes

Yuma serves as the eastern gateway to the Imperial Sand Dunes as they lie just to the west of Yuma. Many people looking to explore the dunes use Yuma as a home base for their exploration. They extend for 40 miles and up to 5 miles wide. This large sandbox has plenty of room to spread out and play. 

The Imperial Sand Dunes serve as a mecca of sorts for offroad vehicles. Visitors can spend their days driving up and down the hills, especially in the area south of Highway 78. 

Those wanting to visit from Oct. 1 through April 15 will need a permit. Visitors can purchase a weekly pass for $35 in advance or $50 on location. Those planning to visit for longer than a week can buy a season permit for $150. 

Why Are There Sand Dunes in Yuma? 

Long ago, the Colorado River often changed course and sometimes flowed west toward the Salton Sink. As this happened, the Salton Sink experienced a high river flow forming a freshwater lake called Lake Cahuilla.

The lake lasted until 1450, and many believe it covered most of the Imperial Coachella and Mexicali Valleys. The Algodones Dunes were created from the beach sand of Lake Cahuilla getting carried by the wind. The sand continues to migrate southeast at around one foot per year.

Can You Sandboard in Arizona? 

People who want to sandboard in Arizona often go to the Imperial Sand Dunes and Algodones Dunes near the Arizona-California border. Just 20 miles west of Yuma, you have complete access to seemingly endless miles of sand, perfect for sandboarding and off-roading. 

If you love snowboarding or sledding, you’ll love sandboarding and sand sledding. You get a similar experience without bundling up to stay warm.

You can use the round thick plastic saucer sleds. You’ll need some surfboard wax or a candle to rub on the bottom of your sled or snowboard. This creates a slick surface to help you speed down the dunes. 

A group of friends enjoying sand boarding and sledding down the side of a sand dune.

Where to Stay When Exploring the Sand Dunes

Most people want more than a day to explore and have fun playing in the sand. It is natural to want to make a multi-day trip with so much to do. Let’s look at a few of the options you’ll have when exploring the sand dunes in Arizona. 

RV Parks

If you have an RV, you likely look for RV parks when needing accommodations. Staying at an RV park provides all the comforts of home while traveling.

They often have great amenities such as pools, laundry facilities, and even groceries. Choosing a great RV park can give you a comfortable place to retreat for rest before heading back out for more adventure. 

Boondock in the Desert

If you love the dunes, you don’t have to leave. If you boondock, you can use websites such as Campendium, AllStays, and iOverlander to find approved and well-reviewed locations to park your RV for the night.

Boondocking in the desert can keep you close to the action so you can spend more time exploring instead of traveling back and forth to your accommodations. 

A man relaxes and overlooks the rolling hills created by sand dunes as the sun sets.


Staying in a hotel allows you to find a place that fits your desired budget, location, and amenities. Hotels are especially great for those that just need a place to sleep and appreciate having nightly turndown service.

As a bonus, many hotels offer breakfast included in the nightly rate. Depending on where you stay, you can also enjoy TV, Wi-Fi, or a pool.


Airbnb is a great option for renting an entire home or even unique stays such as cabins, RVs, and yurts.

This hotel alternative has become increasingly popular amongst people looking to make their accommodations a part of their adventure instead of just a place to sleep.

An Airbnb near the dunes is a great way to enjoy your trip while also having a comfortable place to retreat. 

Is It Worth Exploring the Sand Dunes in Arizona? 

Arizona has a great variety of landscapes worthy of exploration, including the vast dunes. If you enjoy the thrill of off-roading, sand sledding, or sandboarding, you may enjoy a day spent playing in these massive sandboxes. Families, couples, and solo travelers can all enjoy their time spent on the dunes.

Have you had a chance to explore some of these sand dunes in Arizona? Which have been your favorite and why?

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