Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Death Valley National Park - Mesquite Flat Dunes

Since my company shuts down between Xmas and New Year, we have been taking advantage of this time by traveling. This year we wanted to be back for Xmas, so we took a short 5 day trip to Death Valley and Vegas.

We booked 2 nights at the Furnace Creek Ranch, which was closer to more of the sights I wanted to see.


The first spot we checked out in Death Valley were the Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes which were about 20 minutes from Furnace Creek. The first day was really just to scope out locations for sunrise the next day.

The highest dune is about a mile out wading through the sand, and looks a lot closer than it really is. We walked straight out from the parking lot and headed for the highest peak.

Jaime's pic of me climbing up the dunes
View from the peak

The next morning I woke up at about 5am and headed for the dunes. Sunrise wasn't until 6:45am but I had to drive out there and hike to the dunes. I wasn't able to make it out there in time for a good sunrise but got there in time for the sun breaking through the mountains for the first light on the dunes.

Mud crack mesquite dunes stovepipe wells death valley
Dried up mud flats First light mesquite dunes death valley stovepipe wells
First light on the dunes

I chose this location as a sunrise spot because its the best time for the least amount of footprints in the dunes, and sometimes the wind blows away the ones from the previous day. Unfortunately, there was no wind the night before and all the tracks were still there. I had to hike in a bit further to get to some untrampled dunes. With the sun rising over the mountains, the compositions are endless as the shadows change. Mesquite sand dunes shadow death valley Mesquite sand dunes death valley stovepipe wells Death valley sand dunes Stovepipe wells sand dunes death valley Sand dunes abstract death valley Sand dune shadows death valley Sand dune curves death valley Death valley sand dunes stovepipe wells
Death valley sand dune layers
It's really hard to get a sense of how big these dunes are, so I took a few with a human element for scale.

Hikers on top of the sand dunes, Death Valley
Two hikers at the peak

Photographer on sand dunes death valley

Sand dune death valley layers

Sand dune layers death valley
Another photographer shooting the dunes, and taking pics of me as well

Animal tracks on sand dunes death valley
Animal tracks and a hiker at the peak in the background

Death valley sand dunes self shadow
Self-shadow of me on a dune spine

There was really only one other photographer out there in the am, which was nice. I was able to capture a lot of untrampled dunes without too many people running around, but still able to show the scale of how big they are.

Footsteps on dunes death valley
Tracks as I was leaving the dunes

The next spot I wanted to check out for both sunrise and sunset was Zabriskie point, which will be updated in another post.

Brandon Yoshizawa
B.A.Y | photography
Landscape and Wildlife photography

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Brandon Yoshizawa
B.A.Y | photography
Landscape and Wildlife photography