Death Valley: Panamint Dunes

Categories: Desert

I’d driven through Panamint Valley many times and peered over the the distant, mirage like Panamint Dunes. One time I even stopped, because the whole dry lake had flooded, creating a miles long reflecting pool. You can see pictures of that trip HERE. That trip I had a telephoto lens and looking at the dunes up close i decided i really needed to go sometime. Three days shy of a year I did just that.

One of the really neat things about the dunes is this granite boulder field at the base of the expanse. I should have dug into the sand to see if it was only a few inches deep at this point.

I had gone after a few days of high wind so there were fantastic fresh ripples all over the place.

A self portrait.

The dunes are a lot bigger up close and a lot farther away than they look from where you park. My hike was 4 miles from the car to the top of the highest dune and 1,000 feet of elevation gain. But this is on the way up, not the top.

Walking along the spine of the main dunes.

There were two widely separated people when i first arrived but they were both on their way out. In this picture you can see my footprints coming up the slope on the left. 

Looking over the north end of the dunes. I didn’t have time to go beyond the tallest dunes.

The sun sets early due to the high mountains rising over the west side of the valley. Even higher ones are to the east so I imagine sunrise is late as well. Basically i’m saying this is about as long as the shadows get.

It was already twilight by the time i got near the end fo the pure sand and back to the open desert. It’s still another three miles of hiking to get back to the end of the road way over there near the end of the lake.

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