Mesquite Dunes ~ Death Valley National Park
Mesquite Dunes is one of hundreds of scenic destinations in Death Valley National Park. Mesquite Dunes is located next to the Stovepipe Wells resort area, so this unique wilderness area is easy to find. The Devil’s Cornfield, Salt Creek and Mozaic Canyon are right next door, so there is plenty to see and do in this area.
The short winter season is the best time of year to visit Death Valley National Park, because the cool temperatures are within the realm of sanity. Summertime temperatures in this park can be ridiculously hot, yet for some visitors, braving the extreme heat is what they want to experience, because this will earn bragging rights.
To give an idea of the effects of how hot it can be in Death Valley, the clear photos in the slideshow were taken during on a cool winter day, while the blurry photos were shot in August on a day when it was already 124ºF before noon. The blurry photos can be attributed to a “point and shoot” pocket camera that could not take the extreme heat and the digital display screen would not work at all! I actually had to stick the camera in my pocket to cool it down, just so the proverbial “black screen of death” would not reappear.
Mesquite Dunes is an easy place to get to on foot in the morning or evening when the sun scorched ground is cool enough to walk on without frying the feet. The best time for taking photographs at mesquite dunes is sunrise or sunset, because the shadows cast from the dunes create a dramatic visual effect.
Many people picture the Desert Southwest as being a region of endless sand dunes, but in reality, sand dunes are a rare occurrence. To put this in perspective, less than one percent of Death Valley is actually made up of sand dunes, so the Mesquite Dunes truly are something special to see.
The Mesquite Dunes happen to be one of the most picturesque sand dune areas in Death Valley, because mesquite trees grow along the border. Since there is vegetation in the area, wildlife is commonly seen in the morning hours. Occasionally, Sidewinder Rattlesnake tracks from the night before can be seen on the dunes.
One word of caution is to beware of windy conditions in the Mesquite Dunes region. High winds can kick up in Death Valley with little notice and the sand dunes can turn into a torrential sand blasting machine! Packing a handkerchief to cover the face, a dust mask, wide glasses or goggles is not a bad idea, especially if you plan to spend the entire day in this majestic place.
The Mesquite Dunes are a one of a kind micro environment in this vast wasteland that is called Death Valley. The dunes are fun to hike and they are very photogenic, so be sure to pack a good camera for the trek. The Mesquite Dunes are a nice choice for a picnic on a cool day, but the winter season only lasts a couple of months in these parts. No matter whether it is cool or boiling hot, staying hydrated is the key to lasting the day in this National Park, because Death Valley earns its reputation everyday.