By chris swabb
26 Feb 2010
Located between El Centro and Brawley California, the Imperial Dune Fields are the largest dune structure in the United States. The surrounding area is NOT very pretty, and you may feel a little apprehension while traveling here. You may be thinking to yourself, "What am I doing here?", but relax. The payoff can be substantial. After going through a few small towns and farm fields along Highway 78, you begin to see a golden line on the horizon. The sagebrush and creosote trees begin to thin, and the sand increases. As you reach the dune fields, you begin to feel as though you are on the desert planets of Tatooine (Star Wars), or Arrakis (Dune).
To the south you see the offroad vehicle recreation Mecca of Glamis which is great for getting action shots of motorcyclists and sand rail drivers tearing up and down the massive dunes. This area is NOT, however, very good for landscape or nature shots. The tire tracks obscure the natural sand patterns and are generally pretty irritating to shoot around. The garbage from campers litters the area which also gets pretty tough to shoot around.
To the North is the North Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area. There is a road to the east of the area which will grant you access deep into the wilderness, but you will need a four wheel drive to get in. Walking in is also an option (which is what i did). The sand in this area is pretty much undisturbed, but some garbage is evident. It is best to visit this area in the winter and early spring as temperatures in the summer can reach the upper 120s.