California – Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Death Valley


Looking into the distance on dunes, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California

If you squint your eyes at the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, it is easy to believe you are in the Sahara Desert. Yet, in ever direction, you can see the mountains in the distance that make up the edges of the Death Valley. To be honest, it surprised me that Death Valley was not covered in sand dunes or cactus, like Joshua Tree National Park. There is so much more to explore in Death Valley (like this, this, and this), but visiting the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes was definitely a highlight during our visit.

Arriving

Located in the middle of Death Valley National Park, the Sand Dunes are near Stovepipe Wells. I would not recommend camping at Stovepipe Wells. Although this campground is near the dunes, it is also exposed to the elements and wind. It is pretty easy to spot the sand dunes, with the tallest one being around 100 feet tall. You can pull off Highway 190 into a small parking lot to walk out onto the dunes.

There are other areas in Death Valley National Park where sand collects and creates sand dunes. Check them out on the National Park website.

At a Glance:

  • Rating: 4 (out of 4) stars, would absolutely do it again.
  • Intensity: Warm clothes, flowy scarf.
  • Location:  Death Valley National Park.
  • Restrooms: There is a non-flushing toilet in the parking area.

Highlights:

  • Really gorgeous in the early morning and sunset light.
  • They cover an enormous area, so you can have some space from other people.
  • After some wind, there were nearly no footprints on the dunes.

Lowlights:

  • Sand everywhere, for forever.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

It was quite chilly when we visited the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. If it is not as cold, I recommend going barefoot. Sand filled my shoes within 7 minutes through the “breathable” areas of my sneakers. The early morning was a lovely time to visit as there were only a few sets of footprints on the dunes. We were practically alone exploring the dunes. It was quite windy, which could have been the morning we visited, but also a natural feature of this area. Have some fun, run up and slide down the dunes. You are likely to get sand everywhere, so you might as well have some fun!

If you are camping, like we did and do not have access to a shower, I recommend going to the dunes on your last day. No matter how much shaking, knocking, and wiping we did, we could not get all the sand out. I will say, the shower back home was one of the best I’ve ever taken!

Have you ever visited sand dunes? Which ones and what was your experience like? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Travels,

Hanna




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