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By: Dave Helgeson

Places to Ride: Plaster City, California

Fun Desert Terrain, Don't Forget Your Water
Fun Desert Terrain, Don't Forget Your Water

If you plan to ride at Plaster City, bring plenty of gas--you’ll need it to cover the 41,000 acres of open desert riding available. For those of you that are math challenged, 41,000 acres is equal to over 64 square miles! That is a lot of ground to cover.

Upon initial inspection, Plaster City appears to offer little terrain variety, but a little exploring will reveal a nice selection of terrain for your enjoyment. In my travels through the area I found some nice dry washes, whoop sections, and berms. The dry washes offer slopes for climbing and banking turns. Along the west side of the area you will find low rolling hills with plenty of small climbs. If you don’t find any trails to your liking, blaze your own. Plaster City is designated as an open area which allows all forms of cross-country travel. Vehicles may be operated anywhere within the posted boundaries of open areas.  I discovered many places where it appeared no one had ridden as I cruised through the desert scrub on a course of my own choosing.

Plaster City is divided into two sections--West Plaster City and East Plaster City. The dividing line appears to be the mining railroad between the two areas. The areas are clearly marked with staging signs for both the west and east sections with “open area” signs identifying the boundaries of the entire area.

Riding Up A Wash
Riding Up A Wash

Typical Terrain
Typical Terrain

Getting there:

From eastbound Interstate 8:
Take the Imperial Highway S-2 exit to the north
Turn east on S-80 Evan Hewes Highway
Continue east approximately 7 miles to Plaster City West, 10 miles for Plaster City East

From westbound Interstate 8:
Take the Dunway exit to the north
Turn west on S-80 Evan Hewes Highway
Continue west approximately 2 miles for Plaster City East, 5 miles for Plaster City West

Services:  Food, lodging, fuel, and all other services are available in El Centro

For a map of the area click see the following URL:

Beware of adjacent military bombing ranges, limited use lands, and wilderness areas.

Rules & Regulations:

  • Camping is allowed anywhere within the riding area that does not block travel on a road. Camping is limited to a 14-day stay.
  • Draining of holding tanks, littering, and trash dumping are prohibited. Please take your trash with you.
  • All vehicles must have a muffler or spark arrester and have either a street-legal license or be registered as an off-highway vehicle.
  • Vehicles operated at night must have head and tail lights.
  • Helmets are required on all ATVs. Passengers are not permitted on ATVs.
  • Plaster City is designated as an open area. Open areas are available for all forms of cross-country travel. Vehicles may be operated anywhere within the posted boundaries of open areas.
  • Digging or destroying trees and shrubs or harassing wildlife or stock are prohibited.
  • The desert tortoise is a federally protected species. Please do not handle or disturb these animals. Look, but don’t touch.
  • It is illegal to damage or destroy archaeological artifacts.
Fun Berms
Fun Berms

For More Information Contact:

Bureau of Land Management
El Centro Field Office
1661 S. 4th Street
El Centro, CA 92243
Phone: 760-337-4400
Fax: 760-337-4490

Or visit them on the web at:

Be safe, enjoy, and I hope to see you on the trails.

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