Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Death Valley
GPS: 36.6151215, -117.1131444
The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are located in central Death Valley near Stovepipe Wells right off Highway 190. You can also use the less traveled unpaved Sand Dunes Road. These dunes have been made famous by sand dune scenes in several movies including Star Wars. Be sure to take extra water and GPS along. There are no trails and one can get lost if not careful.
This dune system covers a vast area and is formed at the convergence of several prevailing winds in the valley. The tiny grains of quartz and feldspar that form the rolling sculptures that make up this dune field began as much larger pieces of solid rock. In the south rise the Tucki Mountains. To the east rise the Grapevine and Funeral Mountains. The main source of sand for the dunes is thought to come from the Cottonwood Mountains to the north and northwest.
The largest dune is called Star Dune where the depth of the sand at its crest is 130–140 feet. It is a fairly constant feature due the habits of the wind. In addition to star shaped dunes, the field contains crescent and linear dunes as well. Polygon-cracked clay of an ancient lakebed forms the floor. Collections of mesquite trees have created a haven that provide stable habitats for wildlife.