The Lakebed is Closed!

Please help preserve the playa's surface by not riding on the lakebed when wet! 


Enjoying Your Trip

Now that you've planned your trip, what are you going to do when you get here?  These links will help you find the best places to ride, and the most exciting discovery points in the El Mirage area.  Have a great trip!


El Mirage Recreation Area Off-Highway Vehicle Trail Map

El Mirage Spot Map Front .PDF

El Mirage Spot Map Front .PDF

El Mirage Spot Map Back .PDF

El Mirage Spot Map .TIFF - (Geo-referenced)


What's Here?

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 periods of heavy rain. When the "lake" dries, a hard clay 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, land-sailing and straight track racing. Many private pilots land on the lake bed to spend the day. The surface character has attracted the interest of many filming companies. Several major movies have scenes filmed here.

There is no speed limit on the open lake bed, but vehicle operators are responsible for their own safety, OHV rules and regulations, and knowing what is going on around them. The maximum speed limit is 15 miles per hour within 50 feet of camps and staging areas.

During permitted events, special speed limits and traffic restrictions are posted. Please watch for these events. To maintain a smooth surface, the lake bed is closed when wet or muddy. The California Highway Patrol, San Bernardino County Sheriff, and BLM Rangers patrol the area to encourage safe use by visitors.

Camping is permitted on the lake bed, but no more than 100 feet from the edge. This keeps the smooth center section of the lake bed clear for night riders.

Shadow Mountains
The Shadow Mountains are a group of eroded igneous peaks bordering the northern edge of the riding area. These mountains run through the center section and east of the main access, Mountain View Road. The Shadow Mountain peaks offer moderate to hard riding terrain, and are a challenge for experienced riders. Canyons within these mountains make excellent camping areas and offer seclusion for four-wheel drive campers. Watch for open mine shafts in these areas.


What to Do

Most visitors ride motorcycles, ATVs, or tour in four-wheel drive vehicles. There is a road network in place so visitors may camp in most sections of El Mirage. This area is also used extensively for competitive racing events and commercial filming by permit.

El Mirage's unique flat lake bed is a destination for many visitors. There is ultra-light and other aircraft activity that would not usually be found in other riding areas.

There are several opportunities for hiking, rock scrambling, rock hounding, and wildlife watching. El Mirage has desert tortoises, 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!


OHV Riding Areas

The Basin
The basin between the lake bed and the Shadow Mountains is covered with creosote bush and crossed by deep dry washes. Most Off-Highway vehicle use occurs here. Along with casual recreational riding, many OHV and motorcycle clubs stage "runs", and competitive races. Riding is mostly over easy terrain, but visibility can be obscured by six to ten foot tall creosote bushes. Many flat and secluded areas for camping are in this area.

Twin Hills
The Twin Hills area is on the east side of the riding area between the Little Shadow Mountain group and US Highway 395. This flat basin is punctuated by small mound-like hills and gets light riding activity. There are camping possibilities here, but motor home campers might find driving in this area difficult.