More than 85,000 acres of magnificent desert are open for off-highway exploration and recreation within the boundaries portrayed on the park map is operated by California State Parks. Outside the boundaries, to the south and east, large tracts of BLM land (U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management) are also open to off-highway vehicles. The western boundary and part of the northern boundary connect with the half-million acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, which is closed to off-highway recreation, but open to exploration by highway-legal vehicles along established primitive roads.

Ocotillo Wells has three issues of interest to users—UPDATE:

First, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and Desert Protective Council (DPC) have filed suit to stop open use of the park. This is a serious case that could severely impact OHV use there.  CORVA, EcoLogic and Tierra Del Sol (TDS) are intervenors and are fighting on our behalf. UPDATE: The recent lawsuit has ended with State Parks and off-roaders winning. The park will remain open as it has been. Events with routes in the park will be under more scrutiny and fewer routes will be allowed to be used.

 Second, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) is trying to get the flat-tailed horned lizard on the State’s endangered species list. Because of this, the Park is not accepting permit applications for events. Should it get listed, heavy restrictions will likely come to OW. UPDATE: The listing attempt has fortunately failed again. This means there will be no closures or restrictions due to this lizard. We expect another listing attempt in the coming years (this was the fourth attempt to list it since 1998).

Third, the Park’s general plan is being updated. This, in itself, is not too bad. The draft of the plan would include a few restrictions that are likely to be incorporated, such as a requirement to remain on trails in the area north of Devil’s Slide. The general plan and lawsuit seem to be lagging; we believe they are waiting to see the fate of the flat-tailed horned lizard, as a listing would greatly affect both the lawsuit and the general plan. UPDATE: The general plan is slowly being worked on. We don’t know when to expect the final plan to be published. When it is, we will study it carefully to determine the effect on off-roading and react accordingly.

We are closely watching all three of these issues and are ready to act when needed.



Thank you to everyone who provided comments on the preliminary goals for the Ocotillo Wells SVRA General Plan.  To stay informed on the next steps and future opportunities to provide input, please visit the General Plan Website for updates.


Ocotillo Wells SVRA provides ATV Safety Institute (ASI) classes.  Courses are predominately scheduled for on weekends.

Classes are for children or their accompanying adults who ride ATVs at Ocotillo Wells SVRA and on public lands.

This facility was named in honor of Roy Denner of SDORC, founder of ORBA and a great champion of OHV recreation.

California Vehicle Code §38503 states that no person under the age of 18 years, on and after January 1, 1990, shall operate an all-terrain vehicle on public lands of this state unless the person satisfies one of the following conditions:

  1. The person is taking a prescribed safety training course under the direct supervision of a certified all-terrain vehicle safety instructor.
  2. The person is under the direct supervision of an adult who has in their possession an appropriate safety certificate issued by this state, or issued under the authority of another state.
  3. The person has in possession an appropriate safety certificate issued by this state or issued under the authority of another state.


Ocotillo Wells SVRA offers a youth track located in a fenced enclosure and lined with protective hay bales to provide a safe riding area for children to build their sill sets.  It is for riders 12 and under n 70cc engines or less.  This track is dedicated to Harold Soens of SDORC, who worked tirelessly to open up the world of OHV to kids.

The Children’s riding area is located infront of the Shower/Restrooms on the west end of the park near the ranger station.

It is a great spot for 1st time riders and 1st time visitors at the park with the ranger station and the Discover Center near by for information.