El Mirage Dry Lake and Surrounding Area


El Mirage is an area administered by the Bureau of Land Management with cooperation from the state of California Parks and Recreation and a number of southern California counties. The focus at El Mirage is recreational and off-highway vehicle use as well as varied activities on the El Mirage Dry Lake. The area is divided into four general sections; the dry lake bed, the basin, the Shadow Mountains, and the Twin Hills.

Each vehicle driven into the area will be required to have a special recreation permit. A separate permit is NOT required for any vehicles towed into the area. However, if a towed vehicle is later driven in or out of the area a permit will be required.

The permits are:

$15 for a one day permit, valid from dawn to dusk

$30 for a weekly permit, valid for 7 days

$90 for an annual permit, valid from October 1, 2008 – September 30, 2009

Permits will be available for sale on-site.


The riding area is between US 395 and the Los Angeles County line west of the town of Adelanto (CA). Most visitors access the area from Adelanto from US 395 by taking Crippen Avenue west and following the signs toward the town of El Mirage. East of the main El Mirage community, Mountain View Road goes north from El Mirage Road into the El Mirage OHV Recreation Area. There is a sign at this intersection directing visitors into the area.

From Palmdale (CA), take Palmdale Boulevard east to 240th Street and turn north (left). At Avenue P, turn east (right). At the San Bernardino County line, Avenue P becomes El Mirage Road. Follow El Mirage Road through the community of El Mirage to Mountain View Road and follow the signs north to the riding area. There is a perimeter fence in place to discourage trespass from the riding area into the community of El Mirage.

GPS Positions

Past Trips:

El Mirage Day Trip February 2004

General Information: Update 2-15-07 There are now pit toilets located in the area, Most of the visitors ride motorcycles or ATVs, or tour in four-wheel drive vehicles. There is a road network in place so visitors can camp in most of the sections of El Mirage. The area is also used extensively for competitive racing events and commercial filming by permit. Because of its unique flat surface, the El Mirage Lake Bed is the destination for many visitors. There is a lot of ultra-light and other aircraft activity that would not be found in other riding areas. There are opportunities for hiking, rock scrambling, rock hounding, and plant, bird and wildlife watching. El Mirage has many desert tortoise, a state and federally listed threatened species. NOTE: There are many deep mine shafts in the riding area! Please avoid these areas and camp away from mine shafts!


El Mirage Lake Bed

The lake bed is a flat playa formed in an undrained basin. Silt and clay are deposited into this basin during heavy storms. When this “lake” dries, the hard pan dry lake bed is left. This hard, smooth surface is ideal for the unique activities conducted at El Mirage. These include ultra-light aircraft and gyrocopter flying, model rocketry, remote control airplane flying, landsailing and straight track racing. Many private pilots land on the lake bed and spend the day. The surface character has attracted the interest of many filming companies. A visit for the day will remind one of scenes from recent commercials, music videos, television series and movies. Camping is permitted on the lake bed, but no further than 100 feet from the edge. This keeps the smooth center section of the lake bed clear for night riders.

The Basin

The basin between the lake bed and the Shadow Mountains is a creosote brush-covered area crossed by deep dry washes. This is where most of the off-highway vehicle riders do their riding. Along with casual recreational riding, many southern California OHV and motorcycle clubs stage “runs”, and competitive races. Most of the riding is over easy terrain, but visibility is obscured by the six to ten foot tall creosote brush. There are many flat and secluded areas for camping in this area.

The Shadow Mountains

The Shadow Mountains are a group of eroded igneous peaks that border the northern edge of the riding area and run down the center section, east of the main access, Mountain View Road. These peaks offer moderate to hard riding terrain, and a challenge for the experienced rider. The canyons in these mountains make excellent camping areas, offering seclusion for the four-wheel drive camper.

The Twin Hills

The Twin Hills area is on the east side of the riding area between the little Shadow Mountain group and U.S. 395. This is another flat basin, punctuated by small mound-like hills. This area presently gets only light riding activity. There is camping possibilities in the area, but motorhome campers might find driving in the area difficult. There is unmarked access from U.S. 395, which is used occasionally by those familiar with the area.

Regulations for the use of public lands:

The lakebed is closed to all users where wet or muddy.

Any actions that result in surface disturbance or destruction are illegal. (43 CFR 8365.1-6)

No person will operate an Off-Highway vehicle in a manner likely to cause unnecessary damage to land, wildlife, wildlife habitat, or vegetative resources. (38319 CVC)

Please help Protect Joshua Trees.  Joshua Trees are protected. It is prohibited to dig up, remove, or destroy any tree or shrub. Bring your own nail-free firewood.

The Desert Tortoise – The desert tortoise is listed as a threatened species. Do not handle tortoises. They may lose water when frightened, risking death through dehydration. (CA F&G 5000)

Camping on BLM lands is limited to 14 days. Camping is not allowed “in the open” on the lakebed, more than 100 feet away from the shore. It is unlawful to leave a campfire without extinguishing it. Campfire permits are required during periods of high fire danger. (43 CFR 9212.1)

Pack it in! Pack it out!
It is illegal to leave litter on public land. (43 CFR 4140.1 (b(6)).

Telephone Numbers:


BLM Emergency Assistance (Dispatch)
(888) 233-6518

BLM Barstow Field Office/Event Permit Information
(760) 252-6000

Filming/Photography Permit Information
(951) 890-1090

El Mirage OHV Area Recorded Information
(760) 388-4411

BLM Volunteer Program/Friends of El Mirage
(760) 252-6011

St. Mary Regional Medical Center
18300 Highway 18, Apple Valley, CA
(760) 242-2311

Victor Valley Community Hospital
15248 11 th Street, Victorville, CA
(760) 245-8691

— Source: BLM