One of the things that draws me to the work I do, and drives the passion that I have for it, is the variety of landscapes I see and explore. I think that's what made the trip to Death Valley National Park so special for me, the variety of landscape within the hottest, driest, and lowest national park. I've already put the spotlight on two other very different locations within the park, Zabriskie Point and Badwater Basin, so in this trip report I wanted to shine the spotlight on Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.
There are only a few dune fields within Death Valley National Park, and the conditions at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are perfect for the creation of this dune field. There must be a source of sand- in this case, the eroding Armagosa Mountains in the north. There must be wind to move the sand, and finally, there must be a barrier to prevent the sand from simply blowing away. At Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, that barrier is the Panamint Mountains to the south.
What drew me to the dune field was the sweeping dunes, featuring strong curved lines while the mountains acted as a backdrop. In the early morning or late afternoon, the low, angular light of the sun creates fantastic contrasts of highlight and shadow, and the ripples in the sand created by the winds really stand out.