Photographing the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Mesquite Sand Dunes

No official trail to get to the dunes so you can venture out as far as you wish. Check for sunrise and sunset times as this is when the lighting on the dunes is at its most striking. Dunes are surrounded on all sides by stunning mountain ranges. Make your way to the highest peak and have a cold one during sunset with some good company.

The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are the most photographed dunes at Death Valley National Park. To reach the dune’s parking lot from Furnace Creek, drive 22 miles west on Highway 190. Three miles before you reach Stovepipe Wells, the dunes will be clearly visible from the road and you’ll turn right into the parking lot. There’s no official trailhead to get to the dunes so follow the path of least resistance toward the dunes to make your hike as comfortable as possible. If you’re like us, you’ll want to get to the dunes with the highest peak to get the best views, which is about a quarter mile trek.

The best time to photograph the dunes is during sunrise or sunset when the dunes cast shadows creating a stunning contrast. With the right lighting, the dynamic shadowing on the dunes makes all the difference in your photos. It’s not uncommon to see sandboarders taking advantage of the smooth faces of some of the taller dunes. No permit is required for sandboarding at the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. Carrying your board up and down the dunes can be pretty punishing in the desert sun but, it’s definitely worthwhile. The dunes are constantly changing and their appearance can vary quite a bit depending the season and the wind conditions. Bring some drinks and enjoy the view!

Pack List

  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Sun protection
  • Snacks and drinks
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Activities Chillin, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Features
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Scenic

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Fun but hard

Hiked up the dunes for sunset, which was beautiful. The sand makes it tiring but, most people can get to a high peak just fine.

So beautiful, and lots of fun!

Got to mess around these dunes while I was in Death Valley in December. I highly suggest going during the winter so the temperatures are a lot more bearable. And sunsets from the dunes are definitely are a can't miss!

Night time is also good!

To avoid the summer heat, the alternative way photographers do is going out at night :)


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