The Hike: Mesquite Flat Dunes
Location: Death Valley National Park, 2.2 miles east of Stovepipe Wells on Hwy 190.
Distance: There is no trail. The park reports that it is 2 miles to the highest dune and the dunes cover approximately 14 miles.
Elevation Gain/Loss: Approximately 100′
Hiking the dunes was the one thing that I absolutely wanted to do during our quick trip to Death Valley. The Mesquite Flat Dunes were easily accessible; therefore, these were the dunes that we hiked.
The park recommends visiting the dunes early in the morning or late afternoon for dramatic light. We hiked the dunes as soon as we passed them in the park (around noon); however, we did stop briefly when the lighting was more dramatic and made for better photos (near sunset).
There are no trails and it is fun to freely explore the dunes. Once reaching the top of a dune, it was easiest to walk across the ridge instead of continuing to climb up and down the individual dunes.
Animals were not seen, yet we did observe the tracks of the sidewinder rattlesnake. Surprisingly few people hiked onto the dunes when we did, although plenty of people visited (slightly beyond) the parking lot.
This hike was taken on May 26, 2012.