Algodones Dunes

In the south-easternmost part of California in Imperial County lies one of the biggest dune vegetation systems of the United States. It is located only about 2.5 hours east of San Diego. Extending from the Salton Sea to the Mexican border (and beyond) it is over 40 miles long, but only about 5-7 miles wide. Both Highway 78 and Interstate 8 traverse the dunes in an east-westerly direction. Furthermore, Highway 78 divides the dunes into the northern, protected Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area, and the larger, southern Algodones Dunes Recreation area.

While more plants grow on the dunes of the northern part, the larger and most beautiful dunes are in the southern part. Winter would be a more natural time of the year to visit this hot inland desert area, but the recreation area is used by friends of off-highway vehicles then. In summer by comparison, the area is deserted, and the dunes are almost pristine. Thanks to the wind and the ever-shifting sand, they show only little signs of human activity.

Since this part of the Sonoran Desert does get tropical moisture from Mexico and Arizona in summer, it is possible to get nice and stormy monsoon skies for an overall more dramatic environment.

As one wanders into the dunes, the feeling of peace and solitude soon becomes imminent. To see the forces of nature unfold into the incredibly beautiful, elegant and perfect shapes, being surrounded by them, is nothing short of an enlightenment. It shines a light on our feeble existences and sets things into perspective.


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