Where the Sand Is

North Lake County

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Piled up over 60 feet high in spots, the Christmas Valley, Oregon Sand Dunes are an 8,000-acre ATV play land that attracts visitors from all over the United States. Due to prevailing winds out of the southwest, sand has been transitioning through the area for well over 10,000 years. Adjacent to the sand dunes, where the sand currently is, you will find: The the sand is going).

As you travel around the area of the sand dunes, be sure to stay on routes marked "open road." Fossil Lake, a delicate paleontological site, is protected by several federal laws and it is closed to all vehicles. Constant wind action has blown most of the fine sediments out of the pleistocene-age lake bed to create the Christmas Valley Sand Dunes.

Where the sand is going next, and where it has been going for many thousands of years is the Lost Forest, a protected relict stand of genetically distinct trees. The ancient dune system in which the ponderosa pines grow acts as a natural mulch, trapping moisture near their roots. Off road travel in the Lost Forest is strictly prohibited because it destroys the undergrowth that the tree seedlings need to become established in their otherwise harsh environment.

If you go:
The Christmas Valley, Oregon Sand Dunes are open year-round, and are located on the Christmas Valley National Back Country Byway. According to the BLM, roads in the area of the sand dunes are not routinely maintained, therefore high ground clearance and 4-wheel drive are strongly recommended.

Getting there:
From Bend take Interstate 97 south to State 31 just south of LaPine, Oregon. Take highway 31 through the small town of Silver Lake, Oregon and continue another 9.6 miles. Turn left at the Historical Marker and sign that says "Christmas Valley 14 miles." From the Chevron station in Christmas Valley, Oregon, head East on Christmas Valley Road for 8.2 miles, a BLM sign will direct you north on county road 5-14C for another 8.4 miles where you will pass an electric company substation and come to a "T" in the road. Turn right on county road 5-14D and travel another five miles east on dirt and gravel, then continue east on county road 5-14E for another five miles.

There are no facilities, water, or restrooms at the dunes, so plan to be self-contained. A primitive campground is managed by the BLM at the top of Green Mountain, which can be reached by taking county road 6109-D about one mile east of Christmas Valley, Oregon. After seven and a half miles this road will take you past Crack in the ground, another local attraction. Go another four miles beyond the rest area at Crack in the ground to reach the top of Green Mountain, visible from a distance by the fire lookout tower there.

If you choose to camp near the dunes, please reduce your impact by packing out everything you bring in, including your trash, and camp in previously used sites. Primitive camping areas are available in the junipers 1/2 mile west of the Lost Forest and south of the Lost Forest. Removal of firewood of any type from the Lost Forest is strictly prohibited. Gas, phone, food, emergency services, and lodging are available at the town of Christmas Valley.

Legal stuff:
An Oregon ATV permit is required to match the weight and size of your ATV (class I, class II, class III), and can be purchased for about $10 at the following locations:

G.I. Joes, 63455 Hwy 97 North, Bend, Oregon
T.J.'s Quick Stop, 51497 Hwy 97, LaPine, Oregon
Tread & Track, 3500 Eberlein Ave, Klamath Falls, Oregon

Riders need either a valid driver's license or an ATV Operator Permit in addition to an Oregon DOT helmet for persons under 18 years of age. Use your lights at dawn or dusk, or in any limited visibility scenario. Red flags displayed 9 feet above ground, and mufflers with a 99 decibel or lower rating are required.

For further information contact:
Bureau of Land Management
Lakeview Resource Area
1300 South G Street
Lakeview, Oregon 97630


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