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Oceano Dunes General Information
Welcome to Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. Formerly Pismo Dunes SVRA, this sand dune complex is geologically unique and also provides an impressive playground for off-highway enthusiasts from throughout the United States. One of several OHV areas administered by the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Oceano Dunes also offers visitors other recreational activities such as swimming, surfing, kite surfing, jet skiing, surf fishing, camping, and hiking. 

Camping is allowed south of Post 2 on the beach and in the open dune area. Vault toilets and chemical toilets are provided, but water must be brought in and trash must be packed out. Campsite reservation information can be obtained by calling 1-800-444-7275. Campsites are available by reservation year-round and can be made from 10 days to six months in advance. Reservations are highly recommended, especially for holiday periods. Beach camping is recommended for 4- wheel drive vehicles only.

High tides, heavy rains, and blowing sand determine whether or not you can drive down the beach without getting stuck. Access to the OHV and camping area may be restricted periodically by Arroyo Grande Creek which is subject to water releases at Lopez Dam and increased flow during winter storms. Now for all of you that wonder if you are able to cross the creek when it is closed, we had spoken to the local authorities to see if closed means, "we do not recommend you cross" or "if you cross you will get a ticket." The answer was, "If you cross, you will get a ticket".
Why? Well, if you do not make it, and your life is on the line, you now are risking the lives of the local authorities to rescue you. So please follow the rules. 

Please note : The Dumping of Gray-Water onto the Beach, is Prohibited by State Law.

More Camping Information

Kautz Towing

Monthly Tide Scheduale 

Current Creek Status

Visit our facebook site
for updated pictures and videos of the river when it's running.


Camp Fires 
Camp fires are allowed but there are restrictions. In many of the State Parks, the local authorities discourage people from collecting and burning wood that is on State Park Property. However, Oceano Dunes encourages people to collect and burn wood that is laying around. It is against the law to burn anything other than wood. Pallets and boards that have nails or any metal attached, is prohibited. You will receive a ticket for unauthorized burning of prohibited materials. Do not cover / bury fires with sand. Please allow the fires to completely burn. It is not required for you to stay with the fire. It is ok to leave a fire burning on the Oceano Dunes. There is nothing worse than running over or parking on a buried fire. 

Please note: The winds can change at any given moment. Make sure there is a good distance between your fire and any property.
(Especially anything with a gas tank)

After a storm, there is plenty of free wood to burn!

Post 2 is one mile south on the beach from Pier Avenue and marks the beginning of the OHV area. All OHVs must be transported to this point before off-loading. Fenced and signed areas are closed to vehicular use either because the property beyond is private or because the area contains sensitive plant and animal life.

Central Coast Wheelers Presents Oceano Dunes Virtual Map(for mobile devices, click here)

Oceano Dunes Interactive Map

GPS Points

All OHVs must be registered through the Department of Motor Vehicles and display a current green sticker. Funds generated from OHV registration are used for acquisition, development, and operation of OHV areas.

Driving an OHV can be an exciting, yet dangerous, adventure. You can minimize your chance of injury and maximize your enjoyment through common sense, intelligent vehicle operation and by extending courtesy and respect to other riders. 

A drivers license is not required to operate a vehicle in the OHV area. However, if you have had a drivers license suspended or revoked, it is illegal for you to operate a vehicle on the dunes. 

Please note: Sand Highway is an extension of PCH (Hwy1) and all Governing HWY rules apply to Sand Highway up to POLE 11. 
(i.e. Seatbelt, DUI, Speed Limits, Helmet Law, etc.)



bullet In case of vehicle accidents or injuries, contact a ranger or attempt to radio ranger base on CB radio, channel 9. 

Do not move an injured person unless he or she is in immediate danger.


An emergency solar-powered call-box is located at the entrance to Sand Highway. 

More Emergency Information

If your vehicle becomes stuck, you might try the following:

  • Drop your tire pressure, but don't go below 15 lbs PSI.

  • Dig out the sand from around your tires.

  • Recruit some friends and — keeping the front wheels straight — push and drive your vehicle either forward or backward.
    Don't allow your wheels to spin, this will dig you in deeper.

Beach towing is available if needed.

Sand Dunes

The Oceano sand dune area is recognized by scientists, conservationists, government agencies, and the public as the finest, most extensive coastal dunes remaining in California. Most of the material that forms these dunes has been carried down to the ocean by various rivers and creeks, deposited here by ocean currents, and then shaped by the wind into the dunes that we see today.

The prevailing winds that blow in from the ocean push sand particles up into wave-like crests that run north-south. On the west or windward side the slope is gentle. On the east or leeward side the slope is quite steep. Sand grains, as they are blown over the dune crest tend to accumulate high on the leeward slope; then, periodically thin tongues of sand slide down. For this reason the leeward slope is called a "slipface."

It is recommended that all ATV operators take part in a formal safety training course under supervision of a certified ATV instructor. Such training is mandatory for those under 18.
Proper riding equipment is essential to the safe operation of an OHV. Each ATV rider must wear a helmet and should wear proper protective clothing.
Before starting out, familiarize yourself with the terrain. Learn to recognize the telltale signs of a slipface. AVOID SURPRISES.
Inexperienced riders should thoroughly acquaint themselves with all vehicle controls before starting out. Be especially cautious when driving east in the dunes because dune slipfaces normally face to the east.
Drive within the limits of your ability. Don’t go faster or climb higher than you can safely handle. Watch out for other riders. When in doubt, take time to think and look the situation over before you proceed.
Past Inhabitants
Indian and Indian settlements were noticed by the early Spanish maritime explorers who sailed up the California coast, but the first European explorers to actually travel through the dunes area were members of Don Gaspar de Portola's overland expedition of 1769. In September of that year, just after crossing the Santa Maria River, Portola's men killed "un oso flaco" a skinny bear. The lake at the southern end of the park takes its name from this incident.

During the 1930s and 40s, the dunes were the home of a group of free thinking people including mystics, nudists, artists, writers, and hermits who identified themselves collectively as the "Dunites." Among other activities, the group published a magazine, which they called The Dune Forum. The Dunites believed that Oceano Dunes was one of the centers of creative energy in California. Seek out the solitude of the dunes and perhaps you too, will feel these creative forces that the Dunites talked about.
The Oceano Dunes area is home to a surprisingly wide range of plant and animal life. Those who take the time to explore will see wildflowers, the tracks of countless small mammals and insects, a variety of small birds at the water's edge, and hawks, owls, pelicans, or gulls flying overhead.

Many kinds of shorebirds can be found on the beach, while other small birds such as the Audubon warbler, or the long-billed marsh wren, as well as red-tailed hawks and American kestrels are often sighted among the sand dunes. Both the threatened snowy plover and the endangered California least tern nest within the SVRA.

During the March 1 thru September 30 breeding season, small fenced enclosures are constructed around the nests to protect these birds and their offspring from the surrounding recreational use. With ongoing support from OHVers, this nesting program has been a huge success.

Most of the wildflowers, shrubs, and grasses that can be found on the dunes are fragile and easily destroyed. Plants that are native to the area include the arroyo willow, California sagebrush, sand verbena, and bush lupine. European beach grass is an introduced species, brought in around the turn of the century to stabilize the dunes. Rare plants that may be seen here include surf thistle and giant coreopsis.
Pismo clam populations fluctuate dramatically due to a variety of natural influences. A fragile and valuable resource, Pismo clams may be taken under the following regulations:
Clammers must have a fishing license and an accurate (rigid) measuring device in possession.
Only Pismo clams at least 4 1/2" in length may be possessed.
Undersized Pismo clams must be immediately reburied in the area where dug.
Bag limit is 10 Pismo clams
Hours of clamming are 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.

What's Happening Now?

Oceano Dunes
State Vehicular Recreation Area
576 Camino Mercado, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420
(805) 473-7223 (Recorded)
Reservations: (800) 444-7275
Central Coast Wheelers is doing it's part to keep our dunes open for OHV's by picking up trash, repairing fences and informing visitors of the rules and regulations. If you would like to volunteer your time to help keep our dunes clean, please send us an e-mail.

Donations of any kind should go to  FoOD (Friends of Oceano Dunes) who has been doing their part in the political arena. Please note that anger and rudeness will not help the cause. If you want to be heard, please educate yourself and communicate with FoOD. There is power in numbers, but only if the numbers work as a team. 

Please take the time to visit them.


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Smile and Wave
Please be friendly with the local authorities that work at the dunes, 
they have nothing to do with closures and are only trying to help 
maintain your safety and rights to ride.
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