Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (SVRA) lies within the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Complex, one of the most extensive coastal dune systems remaining in California. Oceano Dunes SVRA comprises approximately 3600 acres of unstabilized and stabilized sand dunes.
The dominant soil at Oceano Dunes SVRA is Aeolian sand that originates in rivers and creeks that drain into the bay, roughly bound by Point San Luis to the north and Point Sal to the south. The sand particles are continually being pushed ashore by wave action and ocean currents. The prevailing winds that blow in from the ocean push the deposited sand particles across the landscape, forming the dunes we see today.
Dunes are constantly shifting and changing shape as wind direction changes and as vegetated areas capture sand and change localized wind patterns. On the west or windward side, the dune slope is gentle. On the east or leeward side, the slope is quite steep. As sand grains are blown over the dune crest, they tend to accumulate high on the leeward slope; then, periodically, thin tongues of sand slide down. For this reason the leeward slope is called a "slipface."
This sand movement process is one of the most important factors in the distribution of natural communities and species within dune environments. Oceano Dunes SVRA is home to a variety of plants and animals that are able to flourish in the unique dune environment.