Cadiz Dunes Wilderness

Visit 29 Palms California Discover Cadiz Dunes Wilderness in Mojave Trails National Monument

At nearly 20,000-acres, the Cadiz Dunes Wilderness area in Mojave Trails National Monument preserves some of the most pristine sand dune features in California’s desert region, and offer visitors an incredible opportunity to experience true desert solitude.

The Cadiz Dunes Wilderness became part of the now over 109 million acre National Wilderness Preservation System in 1994, and part of the newly designated Mojave Trails National Monument in 2016. Located just 40 miles east of downtown 29 Palms between Highway 62 and the historic Route 66, the remote road to these pristine sand dunes takes you through some of the most gorgeous locales the Mojave Trails National Monument has to offer.

Ever changing in contour and pattern, these majestic and remote sand dunes are shaped by the north winds blowing sand off the Cadiz dry lake. Untouched and unspoiled in beauty, these dunes are home to a unique variety of flora and fauna, including Borrego milkvetch, listed by the California Native Plant Society as rare and endangered in California. Given the dunes remote location, you may likely not be in the company of many other visitors, but can expect to see some of the Mojave Desert’s familiar species such as the black-tailed jackrabbit, roadrunners, kangaroo rats, ground squirrels, quail, rattlesnakes, and several species of lizards, including the fringe-toed lizard.

While not the tallest sand dunes in California, it is their pristine nature that makes the Cadiz dunes so incredible, and so worthy of a day trip to out and explore them. The highest dunes are easily accessible by the northern access road and parking area, and offer expansive views of the valley the surrounding ranges of the Sheephole Mountains, Ship Mountains, Old Woman Mountains, and the Iron Mountains.

Distance from downtown 29 Palms to Amboy Crater:

1 hour, 45-minutes.

Best time of year to visit Amboy Crater:

Late fall through early spring

Know before you go:

4WD required!

*Motorized equipment and motor vehicles, including ATV’s, OHV’s, motorcycles, mountain bikes, cars, trucks, are prohibited in this designated wilderness area. Use of drones is also prohibited within this federally designated wilderness area.

Important safety tips:

-Plan and review your driving route in advance and carry a map as there is no cell/GPS reception in this remote area.

-Pack lots of water and snacks. We can’t emphasize this enough, especially for day trips like this in wilderness areas. Carry 1 gallon per person and turn around when you’re down to half of your water supply.

-Be sure to have a full tank of gas when you leave 29 Palms and make sure you’ve checked your tire air pressure, engine oil, and coolant as the drive is remote and you won’t find a service station until you’ve reached the town of Amboy.

-Always check the weather forecast before you plan your visit and do not attempt to hike these dunes in the summer months when temperatures are dangerously high. When checking the weather, take notes of forecasted winds and consider rescheduling visit if high winds are anticipated.

-Hats, sunscreen, sunglasses, and loose layers are a must as you are exposed to the elements in this remote wilderness area. Good quality hiking shoes are also a must in order to hike these dunes.

-Before pushing off for this day trip, let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to return. That could be a close friend or family member or the front desk staff at your hotel. If you forget and arrive at the parking lot trailhead, leave a note on your dashboard.

Official Bureau of Land Management Resources: 

Cadiz Dunes Wilderness

Mojave Trails National Monument

Mojave Trails National Monument Interactive Map / PDF Map

Other important trip planning resources:

U.S. Wilderness Areas Map

Cadiz Dunes Wilderness Area rules and regulations