The Oceano Dunes is quickly turning into a bustling makeshift city as visitors and locals pour onto the beach for the July 4th weekend. Off-roading is a popular activity for beachgoers and it's good for local businesses, but it can also bring an increased risk of injury. But at the dunes, State Parks and local ATV vendors have measures in place to minimize the risk.
"Fourth of July is the craziest," said Michal Ella, an employee at Arnie's ATV Rentals. "This is the #1 weekend for rentals. We're sold out almost all weekend and mostly running on reservations right now so it's very busy."
Off-roading vehicle vendors line the beach to rent out their stock, making sure to explain to the newcomers how to be safe when riding. But some visitors bring their own toys, and the always-shifting dunes can be unpredictable.
Visitor Edgar Juarez was new to the Oceano Dunes last year. He learned a painful lesson his first time on an ATV.
"I was going a little too fast. I ended up flying off a very steep dune. Pretty much just flew off, bike went one way, I went the other," said Juarez.
He injured his shoulder and the extreme pain lasted for weeks. His story is a tale of caution for excited off-roading beginners.
"You really don't want to get injured. It sucks. I lost the whole trip pretty much because of that," said Juarez. "Take it easy, scope out the dunes. Just know your surroundings and where you're going to be riding."
State Parks has safety requirements for the vendors renting out ATVs on the beach. Everyone must have a helmet and then they give them the rules, including areas to avoid and what to do if they get stuck in the sand.