Special Recreation Management Area
The Little Sahara Recreation Area is a 60,000-acre property just west of US Highway 6 in west central Utah. The entrance is maybe 5 miles west of Jericho Junction on the Jericho-Callao Road. What you'll find here is massive amounts of sand left behind by the Sevier River from the days 15,000 years ago when it flowed into ancient Lake Bonneville. Since that lake receded after the end of the last Ice Age, a lot of exposed sand left on the surface of the Sevier Desert has been picked up by the southwesterly winds and deposited around Sand Mountain in the middle of today's dune field. At this point, this is a 124 square-mile landscape of giant, moving white-quartz sand dunes.
Just inside the entrance to the property is the Willard R. Fullmer Visitor Center where you'll pay the day-use fees ($8 per car per day, $10 per car per day for holidays - and day use fees also cover camping fees). The Visitor Center is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays but the drinking water and restrooms are available 24/7/365. There's info, maps, interpretive exhibits and a bookstore that offers books and a variety of other useful items (including sunscreen and lip balm). For gas and/or groceries, you'll have to go down the road to somewhere like Nephi, Lynndyl, Eureka or Delta.
While most folks come to Little Sahara for the ATV/OHV riding opportunities, if you'd really like some peace and quiet and a chance to walk around and get up-close-and-personal with the desert eco-system, there's the Rockwell Natural Area: a 9,000-acre enclave set aside as a vehicle-free zone on the western side of Little Sahara. You'll find sand dunes among sagebrush flats and scattered junipers with a wide assortment of plants, mammals and reptiles represented. There's even a very rare species of saltbush growing there.
What ATV/OHV riders will find:
- Sand Mountain: The high point on the property offering an almost 700' high wall of sand for climbing up and down on. This wall of sand offers all kinds of challenges to machines and riders, and this is where you'll probably find the most hill climbers in Utah on a busy weekend.
- White Sand Dunes: This is an area with easy access and lots of appeal to riders of all abilities. Bowls, hills, dunes, flats... located at the northern end of the recreation area.
- Black Mountain: This peak is surrounded by a network of dirt roads that offer excellent riding opportunities for almost any kind of vehicle.
- Low dunes to the southwest of Black Mountain: This area doesn't see as much traffic and is composed of lower sand dunes, making the area perfect for beginners and those who like a bit of solitude when they ride.
- White Sands: 100 campsites among the junipers and with immediate access to the sand dunes. Drinking water and flush toilets operate in the warm seasons with vault toilets in the winter. There's also a fenced play area for the kids.
- Jericho: A picnic and camping area that works well for groups. The access road is paved and there are 40 picnic tables with shade ramadas. There's drinking water and flush toilets in warm seasons and vault toilets in the winter. There's also an amphitheater and fenced play area.
- Oasis: 115 campsites, many with paved pads for trailers and RVs, direct access to the dunes, drinking water and flush toilets in warm seasons (vault toilets in the winter). Oasis also has an RV dump station.
- Sand Mountain: End of the road with 3 paved parking loops, but the camping is primitive. Drinking and flush toilets in warm seasons, vault toilets in the winter. On big holiday weekends this area will be packed.
A word of caution: every year someone gets injured severely, or killed, doing something foolish on a riding machine among the dunes. Wear a helmet, don't drink and drive, pay close attention to the safety flags, scout your route before you go charging off over a steep drop-off you didn't expect... or before you power over a dune crest and drop onto riders you didn't see on the other side. And at any time you may come across children and pets playing among the sand dunes... Leave the guns and the glass containers safely at home. This is also a pack it in, pack it out area (and don't expect your campfire to take care of all your trash).
Little Sahara National Recreation Area area map