Oceano Dunes SVRA Has a Beach for Your Buggy
Did you ever drive on a beach? Or want to? I haven’t done it but it sounds like it could be a blast.
But the places in California where it is legal to drive on the beach are few and far between. Luckily for residents and visitors to San Luis Obispo County, there is such a place, and the entrance to it is just over 2 miles south of the SeaVenture (100 Ocean View Avenue).
The Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) is the only CA State Park where offroad vehicles are permitted to drive on the beach, from six in the morning until 11 at night everyday. You can get a day use pass (just tow your vehicle to the trail head and unload) or camp. Think wood fire in the ocean air and doing super motorhead stuff all day.
Now, I drive an ordinary Mom car, but some of these off-highway vehicles (OHV) can be pretty exotic, or at least cute. There’s several popular types, and you can even buy one now at Costco with the tough-looking roll bars and knobby tires. Try putting one of those in your shopping cart!
The most basic OHV is the all-terrain vehicle with a single seat and
motorcycle type of handlebars. State Parks recommends 4-wheel drive or all wheel drive, and these ATVs usually come with that. It’s pretty typical for a group of friends or a family to bring one of these for every person, and ride together. Especially for the younger riders, I can’t help but think there’s a lot of Mad Max fantasy going on.
Speaking of Mad Max, one of the coolest things about OHVs is that they come in about a thousand different shapes. Yes, there are brands you can buy, like Sand Rail that uses a VW engine. But even established brands are basically parts makers who enable home mechanics turn their fantasies into driving machines. These very enthusiastic guys (almost always) add custom touches by the boatload, with the result that you get some very interesting variations.
For example, there’s the classic dune buggy with the curvy shape and bug eyes. These buggies are based on a kit with a fiberglass or plastic body molded into a shape that accommodates a VW engine (rear mount, rear wheel drive in case you don’t know). This one is for lazy days enjoying the sun, surf and breeze at a fun but leisurely pace, with enough car-like equipment you might even be able to drive it all the way home.
Then there are all those different ways to bolt a big V-6 motor on some seriously strong frame, and enclose the whole seating area in roll bars. The roll bars are there for good reason: the point of the aggressive custom dune buggy is speed and thrills. You will want those roll bars if you roll. But again: who’s actually going to ride in the backseat in one of those?
You don’t have to drive the dunes to enjoy the spectacle. Take a picnic and get close enough to see the action.
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