Death Valley: Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes

HikeSnobs rate this: 2.5thumb


Visited: September 5, 2015

Description: Not the largest but the most visible and easily accessible sand dunes in Death Valley.

Length: Depends on how ambitious you are.

Elevation: 100 feet

Duration: 30 minutes or longer if you’re trying to go to that one pretty dune that doesn’t seem too far but you just never seem to be able to get to it and then give up…

Difficulty: Easy to moderate, depending on how far you go.

Terrain: Sandy and duney

Wildlife: Sidewinder rattlesnakes, lizards, rodents, burrowing owls, kit fox, etc

Parking: Lot

Best time to go: Morning! Before it gets too hot. Or during sunset.

Bring: Water, sunscreen, camera, hat

Fun fact: Star Wars series and several movies were filmed here.


Last minute trip to Death Valley during Labor Day weekend? HikeSnobs are always down! We rented a car with two other friends and headed out Friday night. We drove through the night and got to our first stop, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, around 3AM.

We decided to park in the lot and try to get some rest in the car before sunrise. Since there were four of us, HikeSnobs opted to sleep on the roof of the car to give our friends more space. We climbed on top of roof with our sleeping bags and pillows and spent a good half hour staring into the sky. Death Valley offers some of the darkest night skies in the United States; perfect for stargazing. Sleeping on top of the roof is the best way to sleep in Death Valley. It also helps to keep the coyotes and the creatures of the night away 😉

A few hours later, we were awoken from the sun beams pouring over the morning sky. It was the perfect way to wake up on our first day back in the desert!

Magical hour

Once there was enough sunlight, we went off into the dunes!

You can explore as far as you’d like but just make sure you set an imaginary marker in the mountain above the parking lot so you know which way to head back toward. The dunes can be a little disorienting. People can underestimate how hot these dunes can get, so be careful. The dunes are cool in the morning. We would even recommend walking barefoot on the sand but after 10AM, the sand absorbs the heat quickly and it gets HOT.

Don’t be a victim of the elements

The HikeSnobs found the prettiest dune and tried to make it out there but it was much much farther than anticipated.


We had a lot of fun going down these dunes. Going up wasn’t as much fun..


The sand went on for miles…


We were glad we didn’t get lost or end up walking in the wrong direction back to the car. On to the next adventure!

@HikeSnobs Tips:

  • The only sand dunes in Death Valley where sand boarding is permitted. So bring a board or sled or anything that will let you slide down the dunes!
  • The dunes really do look closer than they appear. We were aiming for a certain dune and each time we thought we were getting closer, there were more dunes to go over…

Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Leave us a message below!

6 thoughts on “Death Valley: Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes

  1. Thanks for the movie trivia. I had not idea that sequence was shot in America for the original Star Wars. I thought all desert scenes in the original were shot in Tunisia with Return of the Jedi being shot in California.


    1. It’s always a nice surprise to find out that a film was shot in the location that we been to. We recently went to Fern Canyon in Northern California where Jurrasic Park 2 was shot. That was pretty cool! We’ll have an article our for Fern Canyon soon.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s