Scenic USA - California
Mesquite Flat Dunes
|Photo by Susan Rovira
Susan Rovira Photography
Inset photo courtesy NPS
Death Valley National Park, one of the largest in America, consists of over three million acres of salt flats, sand dunes, badlands, canyons, valleys and mountains. One of the biggest surprises for first time visitors is that only one percent of the area is made up of sand dunes. Most preconceived ideas visualize Death Valley as an area similar to the Sahara Desert dunes.
One of the driest and hottest places on earth, Death Valley is still alive with desert plants and animals. And another desert surprise, animals are able to exist where temperatures reach triple digits, with the highest recorded air temperature in the world at 134 degrees (56.7 C).
There are five accessible areas with areas that collect windblown sand. While Eureka Dunes, Saline Valley Dunes and Panamint Dunes are found after a long, rough ride, Mesquite Flat Dunes are the off to the side of Route 190. Found just three miles from Stovepipe Wells, many visitors have fun walking over the dunes and running down its slopes. There are no formal trails here and no permit is required.
Surrounded by mountains on all sides, tiny fragments of quartz and feldspar tumble downward over time to make up this large dune. Just a slight wind sends the driest top layer airborne, creating ripple marks and long sand ridges. In some low lying areas, dried clay cracks into polygon shaped patterns, adding another interesting texture and photographic subject.
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