Photographing the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Yosemite Mesquite Sand Dunes

Added by Tiffany Nguyen

  • 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
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More



Chillin, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Year Round



Easy Parking
Family Friendly

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

Night time is also good!

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

3 months ago

4 months ago

Favorite in Death Valley

By far one of the coolest parts of Death Valley. The beginning of the dunes can get crowded but if you are able to get past the crowds the views get even more amazing. Be sure to bring water even if you're not planning on being out long as this hike can drain you pretty fast.

4 months ago

7 months ago

A must-see when in Death Valley

When you visit the Mesquite Sand Dunes in Death Valley, it will be hard to believe that you're still in California. The views here look amazing, especially during sunset. Be prepared for an intense leg workout! Climbing up the dunes was very hard and tiring. But the view was definitely worth it. Bring a mat so you can lay on the sand. After sunset you would want to wait for the night sky to view the stars.

7 months ago

11 months ago

Headed this weekend

great info on the dunes - this post makes them a little less intimidating by providing the info needed.

11 months ago

about 1 year ago

Sunset is no joke here. We visited in the dead of winter and the lighting was absolutely perfect. Definitely trek a little further than the others to get the shots you want.

about 1 year ago

over 1 year ago

Walk just a little will find a point at which the footprints end..and there you will find photographic bliss.

over 1 year ago

Added by Tiffany Nguyen


More Adventures Nearby

Hike the Shadow of the Giants Trail

Yosemite / Shadow of the Giants Trail

The Shadow of the Giants National Recreation trail is an amazing 1.1 mile self-guided hike through the heart of Nelder Grove.

Dan Deublein
7 Saves

Hike to Crystal Lake, Mammoth Lakes

Yosemite / Crystal Lake Trailhead, Mammoth Lakes

In Lake George, park along Lake George Road and walk towards Crystal Crag Trailhead sign to begin the hike.

Aaron Jaro
10 Saves

Hike to the Waterfalls of Lundy Canyon

Yosemite / Lundy Canyon Trail

In order to get to the trail you first have to drive past the beautiful Lundy Lake nestled in deep canyon.

Matt Purciel
10 Saves