I grew tired of walking up and down the sides of sand dunes, and eventually decided that the highest dune on the horizon was simply out of reach (especially with the sun quickly setting). So I decided to walk along the crest of one dune. But no matter where I went, I found footprints of the visitors who were there before me.
Above, you see one of the most pristine dunes I could find.
If you can find unspoiled sand, the dunes are great for photography. The dips and ripples are ever-changing with the wind, but the sand is trapped in this part of the valley, so even though the dunes may shift, they never disappear.
A few plants manage to live amongst the dunes, although they must have deep roots, and be quite hardy. I never made it any closer to those tall dunes in the distance, although I could see a few people at the top (although they were far enough away as to only appear as specks).
Relaxing on a sand dune as you watch the sun set: it’s a great way to end your first full day on vacation.
You could choose to stay the night inside the park, but hotels at Stovepipe Wells, Furnace Creek, and Panamint Springs can be a bit pricey. It also may be tough to find a vacancy unless you plan ahead.
I chose to return to Beatty (less than a 45 minute drive from the sand dunes) since motels there are downright cheap ($40 a night or less at most places).
Note: This trip was first published in 2005. I spent much more time in Death Valley during the Superbloom of 2016.