Steven Harris has been serving as sentry over the dunes at Windy Point along Highway 111 in Palm Springs for more than 30 years.
Harris, proprietor of quad riding activity at Off Road Rentals, has been renting the four-wheelers to guests on a regular basis since 1984.
Owning the perspective of a beatnik and the attire of, well, a dude that really digs quading, Harris's quixotic presence here predates the arrival of the nearby windmills. While en route to surfing trips to deep Mexico in the 1970s, Harris and his crew would dip into the desert for riding sojourns.
In time, his avocation would become his occupation.
"Fun has a lot to do with it," says Harris, who concurrently credits the tenet of persistence as fuel for his three-decade-long business model. "When we began operating regularly, it was great fun and we had a good time playing in the sand. And the sand is very forgiving."
Such lenience extends from the sand to the scheduling.
Off Road Rentals rolls from 10 a.m. to sunset, 365 days a year. For smaller groups, no reservations are required. The riding is self-toured through the soft, elevating, descending and tire-marked terrain, and rentals are available to ages six and up. The quads top out at about 25 mph (running half the speed for children, who may also enjoy a kiddie track), and the price is quite amenable.
For $40 per rider, Off Road Rentals lets you traverse the grades and grounds for 45-minutes (and perhaps more for those who behave themselves).
Newcomers encompass the wealth of the clientele; a note to the nascent: Don't be abashed by the fast veer off Highway 111 to enter the facility, or the Arcadian environs therein, or the (slightly-creepy) cave where riders are required to watch an eight-minute safety video.
After 30 years renting quads, the program may be rustic, but, moreover, it's rote — and prudence remains at the forefront. Helmets and goggles (along with soft drinks) are provided with the fee and the sand proves ever forgiving.
"That's one of the biggest differences between us and many operations – if there is a problem, you land in the sand and it's very easy on you and you get up and walk away," details Harris.
For clean fun: The desert offers no shortage of dining, golf, pampering and tour options.
For some good dirty fun: Take in a liberating ride across these ebbs and ascents, get some sand in your teeth and stay ever-abreast of the owner's perspective.
"It's just simple fun," Harris concludes. "It's relatively safe, the machines are simple to operate and they go up into the high dunes so you can see over the whole valley and sometimes as far as the Salton Sea. It's a great look-around.”