Ocotillo Wells (SVRA) Park

Ocotillo Wells (SVRA) Park

 Ocotillo Wells SVRA Park

Ocotillo Wells has than 85,000 acres of magnificent desert are open for off-highway exploration and is operated by California State Parks, OHMVR Division. There is so much that I love about this place. No fees are collected for camping or day use. Dispersed camping is permitted throughout up to 30 days per calendar year.

Ocotillo Wells Amenties

Amenities are Vault toilets, shade ramadas, picnic tables, and fire rings are located in the Quarry, Main Street, and Holmes Camp areas. You can camp at the designated campgrounds or dispersed open camping in most of the park with few exceptions being close to popular 4x4 areas.  It's important to note Water is not available. The vault toilets are very clean with hand sanitizer dispensers inside. 

Popular Destinations in Ocotillo Wells

Wind-blown sand is a highly effective agent of abrasion, as anyone who has been in a sandstorm will agree. Wind is one of the few agents that can and do carry material uphill. Here, the wind carries sand for miles before piling it up into this huge dune. Perhaps the most popular spot in the park, Blowsand is illuminated by a circle of headlights on many weekend nights.

This 200 foot-high granite and sand island is named for the challenge it presents to the OHV enthusiast. It is actually an ancient decomposing mountaintop. A dark coat of desert varnish covers the rocks as a result of exposure to sunlight. There are several old hidden mine shafts along the mountainside. The mines are said to be haunted. People have reported seeing flickering lights near the mines at night after a rainfall.

In the 1920's the Imperial Valley Oil & Developing Association with their 200 investors were seeking oil here, they constructed a huge derrick and drilled down 4000 feet with an outlay of $200,000. The project was abandoned when they hit hot water and oil refused to flow from the depths. I was able to visit the site and photograph the drill pipe which has water flowing from it in a protected enclosure.  

These mesquite sand dunes are an oasis for wildlife. The springs seep from the ground, especially after a heavy rain. Coyotes often dig holes to drink. Part of the area is designated as a cultural preserve. Archeological investigations indicate that several Native American groups and early settlers used the area. The shade and availability of water made it a convenient spot to rest, to meet, and to trade goods. Some of the dunes have been fenced to allow for natural restoration. Please do not ride close to the edge of the dunes as this kills the mesquite roots. Without these shrubs, the sand dunes would blow away.

Park beneath the reef and examine the soil. You will find not rock or sand but fragments of fossilized oyster shells. Look closer and you will find entire shells and even pieces of the reef which have fallen down the slope. The reef is estimated to be 4 million years old! It was pushed out of an ancient sea during a time of tremendous upheaval when the distant mountain ranges where formed. Please help preserve the reef. Find other “hills” to climb, and encourage others to do the same.

These mysterious waterholes produce large gas bubbles that rise up through muddy water. The water travels to the surface, emerging through a natural crack in the desert floor.

This unique landscape is the result of wind and water continuously eroding the surface soil and revealing these globular sandstone concretions. Such concretions are believed to be formed by the natural cementing of sand particles to a small object such as a piece of shell, a grain of sand, or even an insect. Please help preserve the Pumpkin Patch and the nearby ridges where new pumpkin-size desert “pearls” are emerging.