Death Valley – Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes


What? : The most visible and popular sand dunes in Death Valley National Park are the Mesquite Flat Dunes. Endless dunes are available to you to explore, you can walk few hundred feet or hike for miles, this is one mile hike from the parking to the 100f tall dune. The best time to visit here is at sunset, dark night for stargazing, and at sunrise.


Where? : The main parking lot is located on highway 190, 2.1 miles east of Stovepipe Wells (gas station) or 22.7 miles west of Furnace Creek Visitor Center. For less crowded visit you can park your car on the roadside 2.3 miles south of the “official parking lot”, from here you will explore the east section of the dunes.

Google Map Link


When? : The recommended time to visit here is late fall, winter and early spring, summer is just too hot.


Few blogs links that provides additional information.

Due note 1: Take enough water with you. Do not think this is just getting of the car and watching the dunes. You will probably hike at list a mile into the dunes especially if you want to escape the crowd.

I don’t recommend any hiking in the lower elevations of Death Valley during the hot summer months. It can be 90f degree at early spring… just think of 120-130f…


Due note 2: The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes visit is among the topmost popular thing to do within the park, this can be a crowded place. Near the parking lot there are many people but as you hike into the dunes there are less and less.


Due note 3: There is minimal cell reception in this area of the Death Valley.


Due note 4: There is no shade anywhere, use Sunscreen even in winter months.


Due note 5: there is a paved parking lot with toilets. Do not leave toilet paper in the dunes.


Due note 6: If you are hiking this trail during April/May or Sept/Oct, the mid-day highs temperatures can be 90-105’F, so start the hike before 10am.


Due note 7: When visiting or hiking at the Death Valley use several layers as clothing. You can start your day with cold temperatures during early morning sunrise to a very hot midday (even at fall, winter, and spring). At the afternoon it can warm but at sunset temperature plumage and it can be near freezing.


Due note 8: plan to be here at list 2 hours. It takes a minimum of 1 hour hiking (1-2 miles) from the parking lot to the higher dune section. Plan your time accordingly.


Due note 9: Pets are not allowed on any trail in Death Valley National Park, even if carried. Do not leave your animal in your vehicle. You may walk your pet on dirt roads.


Due note 10: This area is open for exploration, no marked trails; choose your own route to the tallest dune.


Due note 11: Do not forget to bring flashlight with you, you can start you hike at sunset and soon after where you are mile away from the parking lot it will get darker.

My thoughts: This is probably my favorite place in the park, hike away from the crowd and you will find yourself wondering in an endless sea of send. I like this place for sunset and later stay alone in the dunes for night and stars pictures. I also love to come here early morning when it is still dark, see how it start to get the morning light and when the sun is getting above the mountain in the east the first sunlight painting the dunes with gold colors.


The visit:


The Mesquite Dunes, as any other dunes, are known for their sunrise and sunset epic viewing, as the sun is low in the horizon it creates deep shadows and warm light painting the dunes in gold. The dune waves shape combined with the shadows and light contrast create interesting patterns to discover.

These dunes are named for the mesquite tree which grows in abundance in the area.


Sunset or sunrise:

Do them both.

If you can’t do both, I will probably recommend for picture taking opportunity visit here at sunrise. This is mainly because there are much less people at sunrise, and you can find more locations and if there was wind at night it removes a lot of the footprints from the evening before.

Sunset more popular for all park visitors so there are a many more people walking all over the dunes.

Sunset may create more time to scout the area and discover thing you want to take picture of and wait for the right moment where at sunrise you need to know where you are heading when it is still dark.


The hike:

You can view the dunes from the parking lot but in order to get and climb the highest point of the dunes you need to hike for around 1 mile into, just look for the highest point the walk, adjusting your path according to the dune patterns. This is not an easy hike, where you will need to cross some dunes on your way. The highest dune rises 100 feet above the desert floor.


If high winds are present, moving sand flowing in the wind over the dune top can be quite challenging on the other hand this “clean” the dunes from all the footprints and create a nicer, picturesque landscape.


On your way back just look where is the direction of the parking lot and walk in that direction, re-confirming your direction in every top of the dune you cross on your way.


Except Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes there are 4 others large dune deposits in Death Valley NP, I already visit 2 of them, and go pictures of another one.

·       Eureka Dunes

·       Saline Valley Dunes

·       Panamint Dunes

·       Ibex Dunes





Many More Pictures: