Eureka Valley Sand Dunes, Death Valley National Park

Stock photos of the Eureka Valley Sand Dunes and the Eureka Valley in Death Valley National Park.

One of the goals of our recent Death Valley trip was to reach the wonderful Eureka Valley Sand Dunes. At almost 700′ tall, these dunes are some of the tallest in the United States (and are the tallest in California). The Eureka Valley lies in the northern reaches of Death Valley National Park, and became an official part of the Death Valley National Park in 1994 with the passage of the Desert Protection Act. The Eureka dune field is approximately 3 miles long and one mile wide, with the tallest dunes being at the north end. The Eureka Valley is geologically impressive, with the Last Chance Mountain Range rising 5500′ above the valley floor on the north and east and the Saline Mountains rising in the west. We reached the Eureka Valley via the Big Pine Road from Highway 395, spent a night at the primitive campground, and left via the Big Pine Road for the Racetrack. Conditions were ideal when we were there, with cool and calm weather and absolutely clear skies with a new moon that made a great night to photograph the Milky Way. We were also treated to a fly-by of the International Space Station in the northern sky just after sunset. I managed to shoot an interesting time lapse movie of the Milky Way rising above the southern horizon. Walking about the dunes, we came across the endangered Eureka Valley Dune Grass, and witnessed the strange phenomenon of “singing sands”. When a sand slope of just the right size and inclination was disturbed, the moving sand produced a deep thrumming that sounded just like a distant airplane. In the morning we found blooming wildflowers in the dessicated mud fields at the foot of the dunes, including the endangered Eureka Valley Evening Primrose and a little wildflower I have yet to identify. Our quick visit was nearly perfect — my one regret is not hiking all the way to the summit of the tallest dune. I am eager to return, and in the future I may skip the southern end of the park entirely and split my time between the Eureka Valley and the White Mountains (bristlecones!). If I do, the first order of business will be to ascend straight to the top of the tallest dune and hoist a cold one.

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

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: 25249
Location: Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Sunset on the Last Chance Mountain Range, seen from Eureka Valley Sand Dunes, Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California

Sunset on the Last Chance Mountain Range, seen from Eureka Valley Sand Dunes.
Image ID: 25238
Location: Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Eureka Dunes.  The Eureka 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, Death Valley National Park

Eureka Dunes. The Eureka 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.
Image ID: 25251
Location: Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Eureka Sand Dunes, infrared black and white.  The Eureka 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, Death Valley National Park

Eureka Sand Dunes, infrared black and white. The Eureka 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.
Image ID: 25376
Location: Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

The Eureka Valley Sand Dunes are home to a few notable and imperiled plant species, which I blogged about recently: the Eureka Valley Evening Primrose (Oenothera californica eurekensis) and Eureka Valley Dune Grass (Swallenia alexandrae)