Wondering where you can power a hill and glide...or bounce yourself silly amidst the boonies? A place where you can hang with the crowd or saddle up and ride off into a sage-tinged sunset? Then look no further than Little Sahara. It's your Great Basin ride-away tucked away in the Sevier Desert of central Utah.
It's a place big enough and diverse enough that you'll want to discover it...again...and again.
A Sandy Reminder of Ancient Lake Bonneville
A plentiful sand source and strong prevailing winds have combined to create Little Sahara, one of the largest dune fields found in Utah. Most of the sand at Little Sahara is the result of deposits left by the Sevier River, which once flowed into ancient Lake Bonneville some 15,000 years ago. After the lake receded, the southwesterly winds that flow across the Sevier Desert picked up the exposed sand. Sand Mountain, in the middle of the dune field, deflected the wind upward, causing it to slow and drop its load of sand. Sand particles, composed mostly of quartz, fell downwind among the sagebrush and juniper around Sand Mountain ultimately creating a 124-square-mile system of giant, free-moving, sand dunes.
The dunes are still moving to the north and east between 5 and 9 feet per year.
Rockwell--when It's Time to Relax and Hike a Hill
You can experience the quiet side of Little Sahara at the Rockwell Outstanding Natural Area. Set aside as a vehicle-free zone, this 9,000-acre unit is a miniature version of the larger surrounding desert ecosystem. Rockwell's sand dunes, scattered junipers, and sagebrush flats provide habitat for a diverse array of plants and animals. Mule deer and antelope, 15 species of birds, the Desert whipsnake, and 8 other species of reptiles live here. Stands of Utah juniper, sagebrush and grasses typical of the Great Basin, plus an extremely rare species of saltbush, dot the landscape.
Great horned owls are one of several different species of birds of prey that nest in the juniper stands inside the Rockwell Outstanding Natural Area.
Preserve the natural beauty and enhance the hiking, birding and other muscle-powered recreational opportunities found in Rockwell by keeping motor vehicles outside the boundaries of the natural area.
Sand Sanctuary For Good Ol' Atriplex canescens gigantea
Atriplex canescens variety gigantea, also known as giant four-winged saltbush, is a unique plant species. The dune fields of Little Sahara are the only place in the world where this particular variety of saltbush grows naturally. Special adaptations, such as rapid root growth, huge size, and the ability of stems to develop roots, enable the giant four-wing saltbush to survive in Little Sahara's harsh environment of shifting sand.
Please help protect this extremely rare inhabitant of Little Sahara. Avoid running over this plant or its roots and do not break off branches for firewood.
How to Get There
The entrance road to Little Sahara is 4 miles west of Jericho Junction.
From Nephi (west): 31 miles via SR 132 and Juab County Route 1812.
From Eureka (south): 18 miles on US 6.
From Delta (north): 34 miles on US 6.
Little Sahara is approximately 115 miles from Salt Lake City via Nephi.
What's Your Pleasure?
Little Sahara is not just one type of riding. With nearly 60,000 acres of dunes, trail and sagebrush flats, you've got options--plenty of them.
May we suggest
Sand Mountain: A wall of sand climbing nearly 700 feet high provides the ultimate challenge to rider and machine. This is the prime-time focal point for hill climbing.
White Sands Dunes: Easy access to dunes and plentiful riding bowls attract riders of all abilities to this spot on the north end of the recreation area.
Dunes southwest of Black Mountain: Low-lying dunes provide good terrain for beginners or for those who just want to get away from the crowds.
Black Mountain: A network of dirt trails up, over, and around this peak offer excellent trail riding for just about any kind of off highway vehicle.
White Sands: Campsites nestled among the juniper and immediate access to dunes makes this a popular destination. 99 campsites, flush toilets (vault in winter), drinking water, fenced play area.
Oasis: The most developed site in the recreation area. Paved pads for trailers and motor homes combined with ready access to the dunes makes this a popular site with families. 114 campsites, flush toilets (vault in winter), RV dump station, drinking water.
Jericho: Originally designed as a fenced picnic area, Jericho serves as an overflow camping area. Good area for large groups. Paved parking access road, 41 picnic tables with shade ramadas, flush toilets, drinking water, amphitheater, fenced sand play area.
Sand Mountain: Primitive camping/staging area. This place really rocks during popular holiday weekends. 3 paved parking loops, vault toilets, drinking water, tent spaces.
Dispersed camping is permitted throughout the Little Sahara Recreation Area. Please follow "Leave No Trace" camping techniques to preserve the beauty of the area.
How to Keep a Great Place Great
If you're under 18 years of age, helmets are the law. If older, why tempt the law of averages?
Broken Glass in the sand is dangerous. Please help by disposing of broken glass properly.
Drinking and driving don't mix. Now repeat after me, "Drinking and....."
Help wipe out collisions by using a whip flag. For safety's sake, State regulations require the use of whip flags in sand dune areas.
Do forget the firearms. Discharging them at Little Sahara is illegal, so please leave them home.
Vandalism of toilets and tables is everyone's loss and costs all of us money. If you observe vandalism, please report it to a BLM ranger.
If you pack it in, pack it out. Aluminum and glass don't burn, so please keep them out of your campfire.
Play safe, not sorry. Each year several people are seriously injured or killed in the dunes due to accidents. Always check for steep drop-offs or other riders before powering over the crest of a dune.
Remember, watch out for pedestrians and children playing in the dunes.
Tread Lightly! Drive responsibly to protect the environment and preserve the opportunities to enjoy recreation at Little Sahara.
World's Largest Sandboxes
Two of the world's largest sandboxes have been set aside, adjacent to the White Sands Campground and Jericho Picnic Area. Each of the play areas covers several acres, and each is fenced to provide a clean, safe haven for children.
Please remember that tunneling in the sand can be dangerous. Children should be supervised at all times to ensure their safety. Vehicles or horses are not permitted inside the play areas.
The candy-striped homing pole in the White Sands Play Area serves as a visual reference point.
At a Glance
$18 per vehicle for a One-Night Camping Permit (two days and one night) expiring at dusk the second day. Annual Permit $120 and an Annual Permit for a second vehicle will be $65. Senior citizens receive a 50% percent discount on all Little Sahara fees.
Drinking water is available at White Sands, Jericho, Sand Mountain, and Oasis, and the BLM Visitor Center during frost-free months. Year-round at visitor center only.
The visitor center is open year-round, closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The visitor center telephone number is (435) 433-5960. Weather information (435) 433-5961.
Gasoline and Groceries
Services are available in neighboring communities of Nephi, Delta, Eureka and Lynndyl.