Death Valley, Mesquite Sand Dunes, California Desert

Death Valley, Mesquite Sand Dunes, California Desert

Death Valley, Mesquite Sand Dunes, California Desert  typically will take .75 miles of easy walking to reach the base of the highest dunes.  En route you’ll wander through relatively flat sandy areas marked by cracked mud silt, creosote and mesquite brush. This unique habitat is home to kit fox, burrowing owls, lizards, rodents and sidewinder rattlesnakes.

The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes’ highest peaks rise approximately 140′ above sea level, though shifting winds and gravity alter heights and shapes daily. Dunes such as these form over thousands of years as blowing sand reaches an insurmountable obstacle (such as mountains). When sand particles can go no further, wind churns the blocked sand into very fine particles and deposits them at or near the base of the obstacle. An arid climate is the foundation for such a process.

The dunes are surrounded on all sides by surreal mountain ranges that – typical of many places in Death Valley – distort distance and depth perception. Immediately to the south is the Tucki Mountain complex. Behind it to the west are the Panamint Mountains, Death Valley’s highest range. To the east are the Grapevine Mountains and Funeral Mountains, which arguably provide the dunes’ most photogenic backdrop.

The dunes are best lit at sunrise and sunset, though optimal times will vary with the seasons. Consult Park Officials for optimal lighting windows. Early morning is the best time to see animal tracks in the dunes, and enjoy unspoiled textures and contours reconstituted by the settling night time air. Midday temperatures can make the sand exceedingly hot, thus limiting your ability to comfortably move about for any length of time. By late afternoon the dunes have typically seen much traffic, though dusk is an inviting time for extended travel. Night time exploration is possible too, especially during full moon periods.



silver-star    Portland Metropolitan Photographers Association / Oregon Professional Photographers Association, merited photo (PMPA became OPPA in Feb. 2014

Professional Photographer’s Of America/International Photographer’s Competition Award Winner, Collection Book, 2016gold-star




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