New Rules to Begin at Hot Well Dunes

Safford, Ariz.  Due, in part, to increasing use and the need to ensure visitor safety at the Hot Well Dunes (HWD) Recreation Area, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has some new rules for the 2000-acre recreation site southeast of Safford. 

The rules, called supplementary rules, relate to vehicle rider capacity, clinging to or being towed by a vehicle, safety flags, vehicle use, public nudity, firearms, pets, speed limit, camping, waste disposal and length of stay. Only the first three rules are new. The other eight incorporate existing BLM rules and regulations.  

The BLM Safford Field Office proposed the new rules in October 2008 and solicited comments during a 60-day public comment period that ended on December 15. After reviewing the comments received, the BLM concluded that the proposed rules should be adopted. The BLM anticipates that the new rules will be a positive step toward protecting the health and safety of visitors that enjoy the popular recreation area.

The final rules were published in the Federal Register on July 9 and become effective on August 10. “We realize that it will take some time for everyone to learn about the new rules, said Gila District Law Enforcement Ranger Larry Ramirez. “We will spend the coming weeks trying to inform Hot Well Dunes users about them.” BLM law enforcement rangers and recreation staff will visit with those enjoying the dunes to inform them about the upcoming changes. 

The rules will also be posted on the kiosk near the restrooms and tubs at the recreation site. Printed copies of the rules are available at the BLM Safford Field Office located at 711 14th Avenue in Safford. Copies have also been provided to Gila Valley off-highway vehicle dealerships and the Graham County Chamber of Commerce. The rules are also posted on the BLM’s Hot Well Dunes website at

For the purpose of the supplementary rules, off-highway recreation vehicle is defined as a motor vehicle that is operated for recreational, non-highway, all-terrain travel. It may include all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), motorcycles, motorized carts, dune buggies, sand rails, or any other motor vehicle that is being operated for play. 

The new supplementary rules for the Hot Well Dunes Recreation Area are: 

1.) Vehicle Rider Capacity
A person operating an off-road vehicle within the HWD Recreation Area shall ride only on the permanent, regular seat attached to the off-road vehicle.  The operator of an off-road vehicle shall not carry any additional person(s) on an off-road vehicle unless the vehicle is designed and manufactured to carry such additional person(s). No person shall ride an off-road vehicle unless the vehicle is designed and manufactured to carry that person. 

2.) Clinging to or Being Towed by a Vehicle
No person operating an off-road vehicle within the HWD Recreation Area shall attach the off-road vehicle to any object or person and tow such object or person. No person shall cling to, or be towed by, an off-road vehicle.
3.) Safety Flags
Safety flags are required on all off-road vehicles used within the HWD Recreation Area.  An exception to this requirement is made for Recreation Vehicles (RVs), Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs), pickup trucks, and passenger sedans. Safety flags must be brilliant orange or red in color, and at least six (6) inches by 12 inches in size.  Masts must be securely mounted on the off-road vehicle and extend eight (8) feet from the ground to the mast tip.  Safety flags must be firmly attached to the top portion of a mast.
4.) Vehicle Use
No off-road vehicle within the HWD Recreation Area will be allowed within areas enclosed by the metal, tube railings there or where signed as prohibited.
5.) Nudity
Public nudity within the HWD Recreation Area and, in particular, in the hot tubs there, is prohibited.
6.) Firearms and Archery
Archery and the discharge of firearms or other weapons, including pneumatic and spring-loaded BB guns and pellet guns, are prohibited within the HWD Recreation Area.
7.) Pets
Pets must be leashed or otherwise physically restricted at all times within the HWD Recreation Area.
8.) Speed Limit
The speed limit for off-road vehicles within the HWD Recreation Area is 10 miles per hour on the main access road, and within 50 feet on either side of the main access road. The speed limit is also 10 miles per hour within 50 feet of a campsite, or any concentration of three (3) or more people. Operating an off-road vehicle above this speed is prohibited.
9.) Camping
Camping within the HWD Recreation Area is not allowed within the designated parking area; within areas enclosed by metal, tube railings; or where signed as prohibited.
10.) Waste Disposal
Dumping of sewage or gray water is prohibited within the HWD Recreation Area.
11.) Length of Stay
To ensure that everyone has an opportunity to enjoy the area, camping is limited to 14 days within any 28-day period.
For further information about the rules, contact Larry Ramirez at 928-348-4400 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The BLM manages more land - 256 million acres - than any other Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The Bureau, with a budget of about $1 billion, also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.

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