Thanksgiving with the Ogilby Dune Riders: Desert ATV Adventures at Imperial Sand Dunes

Every Thanksgiving since 2010, our family and friends, collectively known as the Ogilby Dune Riders, swap traditional holiday settings for the thrill of the Imperial Sand Dunes in Southern California. This past Thanksgiving 2020, we continued our tradition with gusto, capturing our adventures in a video that encapsulates the spirit of our gatherings.  Short 4-minute video.  (The full 8-minute is at the bottom of the page.)

Setting Up Camp:

Our adventure began at Ogilby Campground, where we set up camp in a protective circle, a nod to the wagon circles of the Old West. This arrangement not only keeps our campsite secure but also fosters a communal space for all of us. Here, Michael, his daughters Jennifer and Kennedy, along with friends Cliff and Karen Waters, Ken and Tammy Sue Bruce, Nick and Tammy Bruce, Stony and Susan Ratliff, Mark Fulton, Steve and Cherraine Anderson, Scott Dayna, John Hollowell, and the rest of the gang share meals and laughter.

The Thrill of the Ride:

Cliff Waters led our spirited ride on his white ATV, with the entire group trailing. We navigated from the smaller dunes near our campsite to the iconic Telephone Pole, and then tackled the towering tall dunes. The massive bowls tested our skills and provided an exhilarating challenge that we all relished. Michael and his daughters, in their Can-Am X3 Max, were in the thick of it, capturing every thrilling moment on camera.

A Break at Duner’s Diner:

A midday stop at Duner’s Diner recharged our spirits. This dune favorite is where we gathered strength over good food and great company before heading out to the day’s highlight—the drag races above Gordon’s Well, where the roar of engines under the setting sun provided an unforgettable spectacle.

Evening Festivities:

Returning to our camp circle as night fell, we gathered around the campfire. This time was spent sharing stories and enjoying the desert’s tranquil night sky. The photographs from these moments, soon to be cherished memories, show our group roasting marshmallows and basking in the warmth of friendship and fire.


This annual adventure is about more than just ATV riding; it’s about fostering enduring friendships and creating memories in the open desert. Our video and this blog post are invitations to join in our tradition, to experience the unique joy of Thanksgiving at the dunes with Michael Hankerson and the Ogilby Dune Riders.

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