A trip to the sand dunes might feel like an otherworldly experience. The towering sand dunes cut through the open desert like something out of a science fiction movie. The sand dunes might be the poster child of Death Valley, but they actually comprise less than one percent of the park. The dunes are hard to access due to off-road vehicles restrictions. Fortunately, Mesquite Flat is easily accessible from a short hike. The sand dunes are remarkably diverse. They’re ever changing and include crescent, linear, and star shaped formations. Fearless travelers are known to sand board the 100-foot dunes. But for others wandering the vast terrain is thrilling in its own right.
There’s no better place to photograph your trip than at Dante’s View. This overlook is located atop the Black Mountains at a height of nearly 5,550 feet. Once you reach the summit, you’ll be greeted by panoramic views of the southern half of Death Valley. Dante’s View’s elevation makes it the best spot to witness Death Valley’s unique terrain. You can spot many of the park’s signature landmarks including mountains, sand dunes, and salt flats. Grab your camera and make a trip to this easily accessible spot.
Many people frequent Zabriskie Point for its stellar views of Death Valley. But few know the history behind the scenic vista. Millions of years ago Zabriskie Point was home to a flowing lake. Weathering and erosion from the lake created the yellow and brown colors seen on the badlands today. This lookout point is located on the outskirts of the Black Mountains. It has sprawling views of salt flats that are best enjoyed during sunrise or sunset when they showcase a remarkable range of colors.
Badwater Basin is one of the most unique areas in Death Valley and in the world. It’s notable for being home to the lowest point in North America, elevated at 282 feet below sea level. It’s also home to nearly 200 square miles of salt flats. The salt flats are fragile collections of sodium chloride that pool from rainwater and mineral collection. Walking along the salt flats is a surreal experience. It’s like walking a frozen lake in the middle of a hot and arid desert.
There’s no denying that Artist’s Palette is properly named. This landmark showcases a vibrant array of colors that stick out like a sore thumb in the middle of Death Valley. Access to Artist’s Palette requires a 9-mile one-way route known as Artist’s Drive. The drive features fantastic views of Death Valley’s canyons and salt flats. Once you arrive at Artist’s Drive, you’ll be in awe of nature’s finest geological artwork. Artist’s Palette showcases a hue of teal, purple and blue colors formed through an oxidation of metals. You have to see it to believe it.