Category

Death Valley

Sand Dunes, Death Valley National Park

California, Death Valley, Desert, National Parks

Death Valley National Park‘s most accessible sand dunes are just a few miles down the road from Stovepipe Wells, in the center of Death Valley. 14 acres of sand dunes, rising several hundred feet high in places, lie about a quarter mile from the road. While there is no official trail from the roadside parking area to the dunes, you cannot miss them. Just set out on foot from your car in the direction of the dunes that look most interesting and walk for a while. Gradually the brush and vegetation gives way to pure sand and you are there. It is easy to find your own space out here, away from others, among the valleys that lie between the dunes. Sunrise and sunset are the times to walk among the dunes, it gets too hot during midday. Night finds noctural animals roaming the dunes, such as the kangaroo rat and sidewinder. The morning visitor will see cool animal tracks on the dunes, tracks that gradually disappear as the sands shift in the days breezes. If I took my kids to these dunes I would bring a boogie board or big cardboard boxes to let them slides down the steep sides of the biggest dunes.

Tiny hikers atop Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park, California.  Near Stovepipe Wells lies a region of sand dunes, some of them hundreds of feet tall

Tiny hikers atop Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park, California. Near Stovepipe Wells lies a region of sand dunes, some of them hundreds of feet tall.
Image ID: 15577
Location: Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Mesquite Dunes sunrise, dawn, clouds and morning sky, sand dunes, Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Park, California

Mesquite Dunes sunrise, dawn, clouds and morning sky, sand dunes.
Image ID: 28689
Location: Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Eureka Dunes.  The Eureka Valley Sand Dunes are California's tallest sand dunes, and one of the tallest in the United States.  Rising 680' above the floor of the Eureka Valley, the Eureka sand dunes are home to several endangered species, as well as "singing sand" that makes strange sounds when it shifts.  Located in the remote northern portion of Death Valley National Park, the Eureka Dunes see very few visitors

Eureka Dunes. The Eureka Valley Sand Dunes are California’s tallest sand dunes, and one of the tallest in the United States. Rising 680′ above the floor of the Eureka Valley, the Eureka sand dunes are home to several endangered species, as well as “singing sand” that makes strange sounds when it shifts. Located in the remote northern portion of Death Valley National Park, the Eureka Dunes see very few visitors.
Image ID: 25250
Location: Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Sand Dunes, California.  Near Stovepipe Wells lies a region of sand dunes, some of them hundreds of feet tall, Death Valley National Park

Sand Dunes, California. Near Stovepipe Wells lies a region of sand dunes, some of them hundreds of feet tall.
Image ID: 15576
Location: Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Ripples in sand dunes at sunset, California.  Winds reshape the dunes each day.  Early morning walks among the dunes can yield a look at sidewinder and kangaroo rats tracks the nocturnal desert animals leave behind, Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Park

Ripples in sand dunes at sunset, California. Winds reshape the dunes each day. Early morning walks among the dunes can yield a look at sidewinder and kangaroo rats tracks the nocturnal desert animals leave behind.
Image ID: 15607
Location: Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Photo of Badwater, Death Valley National Park

California, Death Valley, Desert, National Parks

Badwater is the lowest point in Death Valley National Park, at 282 feet below sea level. Indeed, it is the lowest point in the entire western hemisphere. The Badwater Basin is the catch point for 9000 square miles of drainage, however, there is typically little water here except following winter rains, since the water evaporates quickly. When it does, it leaves behind a saline, crusty, flat white playa made up of almost pure table salt and stretching for miles — a bizarre place. Evaporation is most extreme in Death Valley: a 1.9 inch annual rainfall is exceeded by evaporation potential of 150 inches per year, enough to scorch a 12 foot deep lake to dust in just 12 months. The water that does manage to persist here is the motivation for the place’s name, for it is a salty, warm, nasty swill which you are advised not to drink. A small, specialized species of fish, the Death Valley pupfish, somehow manages to eke out an existence in these waters. Rising above the parking area are some of the oldest rocks in Death Valley, 1.7 billion (with a b) year old Precambrian volcanic and sedimentary rock layers that have metamorphosed into gneiss. Perched 282 feet up the cliff face is a sign marking sea level. If you visit, be sure to walk out onto the playa, not just a hundred yards or so but far enough that the other visitors and their cars become specks. Admire the sheer white horizon stretching in all directions, the Panamint Mountain and Black Mountain ranges the form the walls of the valley, and the blue sky. Hear the silence as your feet crackle and crunch the salt upon which you walk. Feel the air wick the sweat off your skin. Feel your throat become dry. Squint. Nice. Now back to the car and air conditioning.

Badwater, California.  Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America.  9000 square miles of watershed drain into the Badwater basin, to dry and form huge white salt flats, Death Valley National Park

Badwater, California. Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America. 9000 square miles of watershed drain into the Badwater basin, to dry and form huge white salt flats.
Image ID: 15579
Location: Badwater, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Badwater, California.  Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America.  9000 square miles of watershed drain into the Badwater basin, to dry and form huge white salt flats, Death Valley National Park

Badwater, California. Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America. 9000 square miles of watershed drain into the Badwater basin, to dry and form huge white salt flats.
Image ID: 15580
Location: Badwater, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Badwater, California.  Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America.  9000 square miles of watershed drain into the Badwater basin, to dry and form huge white salt flats, Death Valley National Park

Badwater, California. Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America. 9000 square miles of watershed drain into the Badwater basin, to dry and form huge white salt flats.
Image ID: 15595
Location: Badwater, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Self portrait on salt pan, Death Valley National Park, California

Self portrait on salt pan.
Image ID: 15621
Location: Death Valley National Park, California, USA