Death Valley – Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Awoke before sunrise ready to stretch my legs a bit.  The park newspaper gave suggestions for ideal sunrise viewing and I chose Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.  Left the campground and started my drive.

Mountains encapsulate the area in all directions like a bowl.  Besides one couple, I was the only other early bird here.  You can tell this is a popular location by all the footprints in the sand.

Temperatures were cool as I started my hike out to the highest point called Star Dune.  Once the sun popped above the horizon it felt like an instant 20 degree swing and I quickly shed layers.

On top of the main peak, the low morning sun throws shadows across the dunes giving different views everywhere you look.  Dunes taper to the north back to sandy salt flats with scrubby vegetation (creosote?).  To the east, a sea of dunes look like waves of the ocean.  I spent a decent bit of time here just happy to feel the sun.

That couple I observed earlier on made their way to the dune top so I decided to move on.  I took a different route back along a less traveled path.

Hiking Data

This was a 2 mile round trip but felt much shorter since I took my sweet time.  The hills aren’t extremely difficult to summit but you won’t set any land speed records in this soft sand.  Definitely felt easy thanks to the mild temperatures of December.  Check out that elevation map – most of the trip besides the dune peak was below sea level!

Lat = 36.6151199 , Long = -117.1131439 -- Show at Google Maps

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