The Algodones Dunes is a large sand dune field, or erg, located in the southeastern portion of the U.S. state of California, near the border with Arizona and the Mexican state of Baja California. The field is approximately 45 miles (72 km) long by 6 miles (9.7 km) wide and extends along a northwest-southeast line that correlates to the prevailing northerly and westerly wind directions. The name "Algodones Dunes" refers to the entire geographic feature, while the administrative designation for that portion managed by the Bureau of Land Management is the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (sometimes called the Glamis Dunes). In 1966, Imperial Sand Hills was designated as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service. The Algodones Dunes are split into many different sections. These sections include Glamis, Gordon's Well, Buttercup, Midway, and Patton's Valley. Although the Arabic-derived Spanish word algodones translates to "cotton plants", t...Read more

The Algodones Dunes is a large sand dune field, or erg, located in the southeastern portion of the U.S. state of California, near the border with Arizona and the Mexican state of Baja California. The field is approximately 45 miles (72 km) long by 6 miles (9.7 km) wide and extends along a northwest-southeast line that correlates to the prevailing northerly and westerly wind directions. The name "Algodones Dunes" refers to the entire geographic feature, while the administrative designation for that portion managed by the Bureau of Land Management is the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (sometimes called the Glamis Dunes). In 1966, Imperial Sand Hills was designated as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service. The Algodones Dunes are split into many different sections. These sections include Glamis, Gordon's Well, Buttercup, Midway, and Patton's Valley. Although the Arabic-derived Spanish word algodones translates to "cotton plants", the origin of the toponym is unknown.

 Remains of Old Plank Road in 2001

Because the Colorado River flowed through very flat terrain, the course of the river varied over a wide area, being periodically diverted in one direction or another by silt deposits remaining after floods. Sometimes the river flowed into the Gulf of California, as it did until irrigation in the Imperial Valley and Mexicali Valley dried it up before reaching there; other times it turned westward toward the Salton Sink. Each time the Salton Sink received the river flow, a large freshwater lake called Lake Cahuilla formed. The last Lake Cahuilla covered much of the Imperial, Coachella and Mexicali Valleys as late as 1450. The most popular theory holds that the Algodones Dunes were formed from windblown beach sands of Lake Cahuilla. The prevailing westerly and northwesterly winds carried the sand eastward from the old lake shore to their present location which continues to migrate southeast by approximately one foot per year.[1]

The dunes have frequently been a barrier to human movement in the area. Foot travelers frequently diverted south into Mexico, and in 1877 the Southern Pacific Railroad was diverted north to avoid the dunes, but in 1915 Colonel Ed Fletcher built a wooden plank road across the dunes to prove that cars could cross the dunes and to connect San Diego with Yuma, Arizona. This trail eventually became part of Interstate 8. During World War II, the U.S. military conducted desert warfare training on the dunes, which were part of the California-Arizona Maneuver Area. People have been driving on the dunes for recreation almost since vehicles first reached the area, which may have been the proving ground for the first dune buggy, a modified Ford Model A. Off-road driving surged following World War II when surplus Jeeps became available to the public.[1]

^ a b Where Did the Sand Dunes Come From? Bureau of Land Management. Archived 2007-02-04 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on February 18, 2007.
Photographies by:
Pretzelpaws at English Wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
US Border Patrol - Public domain
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