Death Valley is well known for the Mesquite Dunes at Stovepipe Wells and Derek and I hiked those last time we were here. You can see pictures of that here. In the 2+ years on the road we also hiked White Sands National Park, and Great Sand Dunes National Park. The other day we hiked the lesser known and much harder to get to Panamint Dunes in Death Valley National Park. Our hike was 9 miles with 1002’ of climbing.
The Dunes are 6 miles down a rugged gravel road off the 190 by Panamint Springs Resort. There are also a few campspots down this road though it would be slow going towing a trailer and I wouldn’t want to be there with any chance of rain in the forecast. There is a small parking lot 6 miles in and the “trail” starts here. The first part is the only real trail…maybe for less than half a mile there is a path through the rock garden that is more trodden down than the surrounding area. After that there isn’t really a trail, you just hike out across the wilderness towards the giant dunes off in the distance. It’s at least 3 miles of sandy hiking until you reach the dunes which makes this less popular than any other dune I’ve ever hiked.
The dunes themselves are pretty tall and the light colored sand is striking against the blue sky and the dark rocky towering mountain walls that circle the entire valley. Peaks of snow could be seen looking back towards Telescope Peak. I hiked all the way up to the top of one of the big dunes and it was tough! The views are worth it, though I think anytime you get outside in nature is worth it. We didn’t come across any other people though there were 2 other cars in the lot.