Oceano Dunes SVRA
Narrated by Russ Christoff

For visitors who enjoy off road excitement, Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area offers 1,800 acres of sand dunes and beach to off highway and street legal vehicles.

It’s also the only state park that allows camping directly on the beach.

The Ocean Sand Dunes are recognized as the finest, most extensive coastal dunes area remaining in California.

Most of the material that formed these dunes has been carried down to the area by various rivers and creeks.

Deposited here by ocean currents and shaped by wind into the dunes you see today, this amazing dunes playground is protected by California State Parks and is supported by off highway green sticker registration funds.

All laws pertaining to off highway vehicles apply.

The use of four-wheel drive vehicles is strongly recommended because it’s easy to become axle-deep in the sand, as we soon realized.

With the help of the state park towing concessionaire, our production motor home was moved to safer ground.

I talked with Steve, the ranger, about Oceano Dunes.

Now since this is a state vehicular recreation area, what kinds of vehicles are people going to see when they come down.

RANGER STEVE: Russ, you’ll see just about everything out here. Four-wheel drive vehicles, ATV’s which are All Terrain Vehicles which are three or four wheeled.

You’ll see dune buggies out here, sand rails, an occasional special constructed vehicle that you don’t know what to call it, but just about everything that has wheels and a motor at one time or another you’ll see out here.

RUSS CHRISTOFF: Camping on the beach, that’s really unique for a California State Park, isn’t it?

RANGER STEVE: Well, it certainly is, and when I think of Ocean Dunes, probably the most unique aspect about our park is that we do allow beach camping, and vehicles can actually drive on the beach, down to the camping area that’s dispersed camping, which means we don’t have any real campsites, you just kind of find the place where you like, set up camp for the weekend and hopefully you are here to stay for a few days.

While we were out on the dunes yesterday, I noticed a couple of oases and areas that were sectioned off, where off road vehicles are not allowed.

What are those?

RANGER STEVE: Well, there are actually two things going on out there. One is the Oso Flaco Lake area that we visited, I believe that’s the oasis you were talking about.

That area was actually purchased with state vehicle recreation funds back in late 1970’s.

What we are trying to do at Oso Flaco, and you noted yesterday the plants seemed fairly recent, we are trying to stabilize the sand dunes down there to prevent the sand from encroaching into the lake and filling it in.

So what we have done with off highway vehicle money, we’ve gone in and put in new plants and attempted to stabilize the dunes and hopefully prevent the lake from filling in. Then the lake will be there for a long time for people to enjoy.

RUSS CHRISTOFF: We’re spending a lot of time preserving this area.

RANGER STEVE: Well, Oceano Dunes, number one is one of six state vehicle recreation areas in California that draws almost a million visitors a year here.

That makes us very unique.

The beach camping experience, the beach driving experience makes us very unique.

But along with all that intense recreational pressure, we’re preserving things like the Snowy Plover, the Least tern and the Oso Flaco Lake area.

Because we have all these different things going on, and at the same time we are able to mitigate some of the resource problems that go along with all this recreational pressure.

This place is really special because of that.