Imperial Plank Rd.

Remains of the Imperial Dunes Plank Road

Field review by the editors.

Winterhaven, California

It was bad enough crossing the Imperial Valley sand dunes of Southern California on horseback. Early automobiles found it impossible. So in 1916, a one-lane road of wooden planks was laid across the eight miles of sand, funded almost entirely by the far-away city of San Diego, which wanted to lure people from the East by the most direct route. The speed limit was 10 mph. If there was a lot of traffic, traveling the eight miles could take up to two days.

The plank road -- the original Route 80 -- lasted for a dozen years until it was replaced by an asphalt road and then today's four-lane highway. It still crosses the dunes in spots, and a surviving section (with its own historical marker) can be seen from a roadside picnic area at Grays Wells. But you'd be nuts to try to drive on it.

Remains of the Imperial Dunes Plank Road

Grays Wells Rd, Winterhaven, CA
I-8 exit 156 onto Grays Wells Rd. Drive west along the south side of the freeway for three miles. There is a parking/camping area on the right; the Plank Road is on the left.
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Imperial Valley Sand DunesImperial Valley Sand Dunes, Winterhaven, CA - 3 mi.
Official Center of the WorldOfficial Center of the World, Felicity, CA - 10 mi.
Gold Rock RanchGold Rock Ranch, Winterhaven, CA - 12 mi.
In the region:
Territorial Prison, Yuma, AZ - 18 mi.

More Quirky Attractions in California

Stories, reports and tips on tourist attractions and odd sights in California.

Explore Thousands of Unique Roadside Landmarks!

Strange and amusing destinations in the US and Canada are our specialty. Start here.
Use's Attraction Maps to plan your next road trip.

October 26, 2020

My Sights

My Sights

Create and Save Your Own Crazy Road Trip!

Try My Sights

Roadside America app
Roadside Presidents app

California Latest Tips and Stories

Latest Visitor Tips

Sight of the Week

Sight of the Week

Martian Landing Site Monument, Grovers Mill, New Jersey (Oct 26-Nov 1, 2020)

SotW Archive

USA and Canada Tips and Stories

More Sightings

Sightings. Arrives without warning. Leaves no burn marks. A free newsletter from Subscribe now! Hotel & Motel Finder

Special rates for hotels.

Nearby Hotels: Winterhaven, California

Nightly rates found:

Book Now