Dune Swoon

Sunset at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park

Of all the places to catch a sunset in Death Valley, we still think there’s none better than the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. Located 2 miles east of Stovepipe Wells (where you can find a General Store and bathroom), these marquee dunes of Death Valley inspire many things, including log rolls, cartwheels, and plenty of selfies.

Park in the large lot off Highway 190 and be sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp because you’re likely to want to linger longer after sunset, and sand-walking can be slow going. Nevertheless, pack a picnic and start walking north to the dune of your desire. That tallest one is about a mile away. Pick your spot and climb the spine or run upward (surprisingly hard work).

Woman walking to a sand dune at Mesuqite Flat Sand Dunes in Death Valley

Spread a blanket or sit on your pack and break out your picnic while waiting for the big show … the dunes are so vast here you’re able to have some privacy even if it’s busy. As the sun sets, the colors across the mountains shift from rose to violet. Don’t leave too soon ... this is a choice spot for a little stargazing or getting some entertainment from your moon shadow. Just be sure to head back before it gets too dark … and keep an eye out for the shadow figures of the elusive desert fox or coyote … the thrills keep coming.

Woman on sand dune at Mesquite Flat at sunset in Death Valley National Park

Sunrise Bonus: Where do you go for a heavenly sunrise? Dante’s View, a 5,476-foot vantage of the whole southern basin of Death Valley from the top of the Black Mountains. Bring a thermos of coffee and a good morning attitude (ahem), then watch as the sky gives way to the hot pink band inching up.

Hiker at Dante

When it’s light enough, explore the short trails here for more perspectives and, of course, rise-and-shine selfies. If you have a really crisp and clear morning, you can contrast the lowest and highest points in the contiguous US: Badwater (Death Valley) and Mount Whitney (Sierra).

Directions to Dante's View: Turn off at Hwy. 190 east of Furnace Creek, and follow the signs for Dante’s View.

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST: In the episode "Life and Death Experience" Weekend Sherpa co-founders Brad and Holly recorded part of their podcast from the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. Listen to the conversations about their favorite adventures in Death Valley.

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Sponsored

    Outdoor Zen in Sonoma County

    Sonoma County’s abundant natural beauty is good for your mind, body, and spirit. From redwoods and rhododendron walks, to yoga in a vineyard, here are five ways to soothe your soul in Sonoma County.

    View
  2. Feather Fanfare

    Feathery birds swing and swoop on the edge of the San Francisco Bay, surrounded by the Diablo Range and Santa Cruz Mountains. See it all from a levee in serene Ravenswood Preserve.

    View
  3. Mellow in the Marsh

    Beach, birds, ice plant popping purple flowers: That’s a hiking slam dunk! Hike about 2 miles at Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve using their fully reopened and well-signed Sequoia Audubon Trail.

    View
  4. Watershed Moment

    The Presidio in San Francisco offers some of the best urban hiking in the country! And the new marsh bridges under Presidio Parkway offer more habitat for plants, fish, and bird life... and trails for us!

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Lavender Labyrinth

    Labyrinths are meditative meanders. Add fragrant organic lavender and you're at Bees N Blooms at the foot of Taylor Mountain near Santa Rosa, experiencing their “ancient pathway of peace” and more.

    View
  2. Putnam Pedal and Poppies!

    Helen Putnam Regional Park punches above her weight. The compact yet bountiful park near Petaluma explodes with wildflowers every spring, in particular the state’s signature California poppy.

    View
  3. Take the Musical Road

    Drive the Musical Road—one of only a handful in the world—to connect two of Antelope Valley’s best parks, Prime Desert Woodland Preserve with its Joshua Trees and Apollo Community Regional Park.

    View
  4. Barrel of Fun

    Put a spring in your step and a barrel in your belly in Antelope Valley's Palmdale. Do a 2.75-mile hike on Barrel Springs Trail and enjoy a local winery that shares part of the nomenclature.

    View