GPS Coordinates: 36.60596, -117.1159 (36°36’21.5″N 117°06’57.2″W)
This is one of the five sand dunes in Death Valley and the most popular one among the tourists. This sand dune is best known for its easy access and continuous flow of the dunes nestled in between the mountains in all directions.
This dune is located at the center of the Death Valley near Stovepipe Wells. This can be easily accessed via HWY 190. This is one of the largest dunes area wise and also has some of the tallest ones too. There are points on the dune that go as high as 100 feet. You can also see cracked clay from an ancient lakebed scattered throughout the dunes. Mesquite trees are found throughout the dunes that provide a stable habitat for some of the wildlife that you can find in the desert
This is also one of the best spots to visit at night for some stargazing and astrophotography. During certain time of the year, you can clearly see the Milky Way and other star constellations. Just be aware of your location and have a GPS trail tracker to track your position so that you don’t get lost and can find your way back to your car at night.
Best Time to Visit / Photograph
The best time to arrive is during Spring, Fall and early summer as the weather would be mild, manageable, and not too harsh. If you wish to venture and explore the dunes, an hour so before sunrise or sunset is the ideal timeframe, at both times, you will see the soft light creating some interesting shades and patterns in the dune.
You can also do Astrophotography if you venture a little deeper into the dunes at night. At this time, the light pollution will be minimal to almost nothing. Other than the occasional headlights from the passing by vehicles at a distance, otherwise the area should be mostly dark.
Recommended Camera Gear
- Digital Camera with Ultra Wide or Normal to Mid-Range Zoom Lens
- Cable shutter release or Remote Shutter Release
- Steady Tripod
- High powered flashlight for light painting and regular night time use
- Layered clothing to adapt to the changing weather
- Carry plenty of water and snacks to keep yourself full and hydrated
- Wear comfortable shoes preferably sand shoes
- GPS tracker to track your current location no cell service throughout the park
- Headlamps and portable battery packs to keep your electronics charged
How to get there
Take HWY 190 to access the Dunes and the Dunes Parking area. The closest point of interest is the Stovepipe Wells, located roughly 2 miles away from the Dunes.
Place to Stay
If you have a camper vehicle you can technically camp at the Dunes parking area. You may have to check with the Park Rangers or at the Visitors Center. There are numerous campsites available within 20 miles of driving distance, all available on a first come first serve basis. You can buy a camping permit either at the visitors center for the campsites closest to the center. Most of the campsites have a reservation kiosk that takes most of the popular credit cards. The closest hotel is Stovepipe Wells but it fills quickly so call in for a reservation. There also is a general purpose store across the street for some quick supplies.
Pictorial Highlights from this place…