• Activities:

    Chillin, Camping, Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    2.5 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    700 Feet

Adult Beverages
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Groups
Picnic Area
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Hear, see, and experience one of the few "singing" sand dunes in the world with expansive views of the Basin & Range province and the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Sand Mountain, located just off Highway 50 in Nevada aka "The Loneliest Highway", is perhaps best known as an OHV-paradise, with off-road enthusiasts descending on it like a swarm of buzzing mechanical beasts. Most don't know that the BLM-managed Recreation Area also has numerous trails around the dunes and into the surrounding mountains, providing vast views of the surrounding Basin and Range province and on a clear day all the way to the mountains of Lake Tahoe.

To get there from the west, take I-80 east to the Fallon exit and and then take Highway 50 east for about 20 minutes. The mountain is iconic and un-missable. The more adventurous sort coming from the east can exit I-80 at Battle Mountain, then taking State Road 305 south to Highway 50 west. This route takes about 2.5 hours.

Off Highway 50 Sand Mountain Road leads to the base of the mountain and to a large camping and parking area. You can't miss the RVs. The trailhead is in the northeast corner of the parker area just past the bathrooms.

Being an ever-changing sand dune there is no marked trail to the summit, which can change from year to year. To reach the top (and to avoid the off-road vehicle traffic) your best approach is to continue northeast from trailhead on the winding, and sometimes covered trail between the dune and the rock mountains to the east. 

After about a quarter mile head left (west) up the face of the dune, aiming for the saddle between the two high points. From the saddle, it is easy to spot and make for the summit.

It is also possible to continue on the trail till you reach the end of the NE pseudo-spur of the dune, then heading southwest up the ridge line to the summit. 

Note: Sand Mountain is an OHV mecca and are almost everywhere in the Recreation Area. Be alert and use your ears, as they descend rapidly down dunes and perform acrobatic jumps that can surprise. They tend to stay in certain areas but that's by no-means guaranteed. Most drivers are friendly, polite, and happy to give you a ride if asked.

Finally, Sand Mountain is the exclusive home of the critically endangered "Sand Mountain Blue" butterfly. When on parts of the trail that feature vegetation be extra-careful not to trample any flora as the Blue feeds exclusively on the Kearny Buckwheat found around (but not on) the dunes. 

Pack List

  • Sunscreen
  • Water (there is no water available on-site)
  • Season-appropriate attire 
  • Footwear that you can easily take on and off for removing sand
  • A permit, unless Tuesdays or Wednesdays
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Josiah Roe Admin

The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark. - John Muir

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