Desert Allure



The Eureka Dunes are situated in the remote Eureka Valley, which is a closed basin located at an altitude of 3,000 feet in the northwest part of Death Valley. Although the dunes cover an area of only 3 miles long by 1 mile wide, they rise to a height of 700 feet, making them the tallest sand dunes in California and possibly in all of North America. However, these dunes are still dwarfed by the impressive limestone wall of the Last Chance Mountains, which rises another 4,000 feet above the valley floor.

A friend and I drove through the night from Stovepipe Wells to get to Eureka Valley to witness the sunrise about a month after flash floods had devastated significant sections of the Park in 2015. The drive took us five painstaking hours as we navigated through washed-out roads in total darkness. It was one of the most harrowing drives I’ve ever done. We arrived at the Dune as the sun was coming up behind the mountain range, but to our disappointment, there were no glorious sun flares, no sunbursts, no golden orange halos along the tops of the mountains; just a dull pre-dawn light that left everything looking flat. After such an exhausting drive, I couldn’t have been more disappointed and frustrated. However, as my friend and I considered our options over a cup of coffee, the morning sunlight began to rise over the top of the mountains, highlighting the shadows and golden textures of the sand dunes. The allure of the changing abstract textures and shadows kept us motivated for the next several hours.

To add even more irony to the story, this photo is one of my two photos selected for the year-long exhibition celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016.

Location: Eureka Sand DunesDeath Valley National Park.

Media: Fine Art Landscape Prints