Eureka Sand Dunes, Eureka Sand Dunes Parking Area, Death Valley National Park, California
Eureka Sand Dunes - 1.5 miles
Eureka Sand Dunes Parking Area
|Round-Trip Length:||1.5 miles (No Trail - Cross Country Travel Required)|
|Start-End Elevation:||2,905' - 3,580' (dune elevations vary)|
|Elevation Change:||+675' net elevation gain (total roundtrip elevation gains vary with route)|
Eureka Sand Dunes - 1.5 Miles Round-Trip
The Eureka Sand Dunes are the tallest dunes in Death Valley and all of California. They rise nearly 700' from the remote Eureka Valley floor, which separates the Last Chance Mountains (east) from the Saline Range (west).
The Eureka Dunes receive more rainfall than others in Death Valley due to their location at the western base of a mountain range, which captures precipitation from passing storms.
Plants and animals must survive periods of exposure and coverage by shifting sands to capitalize on moisture stored within these uniquely absorbent dunes.
In its estimated 10,000 year existence a few specialized species - five beetles and three plants - have thrived in this isolated island of sand, and exist nowhere else in the world.
The Eureka Dune field is approximately 3 miles long (north-south) and 1 mile wide (east-west), trending higher on the north end. No maintained trails lead into the dunes, leaving routing up to you. Respect conservation efforts and avoid activities that could disturb local ecology and wildlife.
Some of the dune field's highest and steepest slopes hover directly over the main parking area; skirt the base to find a more gradual entry point.
No matter your approach, the desert floor is level and easily traversed, rocks and scrub notwithstanding. Afternoon and winter visitors may find lighting more favorable approaching from the west, and across a dry lake bed littered with colorful rocks.
Views across Eureka Valley reveal smaller dune fields several miles away on the valley's western bajadas. Travelers heading down the east flank will have a good look at the Last Chance Mountains' striated limestone walls, and heavier brush that shelters reptiles, birds, kit fox and coyote.
Ubiquitous tracks and burrows on the desert floor tell the story of local wildlife movements and interactions.
While dune travel is generally safe, preparation is a must. The dunes are fully exposed to sun, heat, wind and reflecting light. Carry extra water, full sun protection and secure sensitive equipment. Though distances are modest travel is slow - if not arduous - through the dunes and surrounding desert. Keep your bearings on the parking area and eye on the time as you explore.
- N37 06.709 W117 40.846 — Eureka Dunes Parking Area
- N37 06.326 W117 41.228 — .6 miles : Dry Lake Bed on western edge of dunes
- N37 05.146 W117 40.543 — Notable Dune #1 (3,253')
- N37 05.570 W117 40.537 — Notable Dune #2 (3,380')
- N37 05.744 W117 40.520 — Notable Dune #3 (3,575')
- Three plant species in the Eureka Sand Dunes are found nowhere else in the world: Shining Milkvetch, Eureka Dunes Evening Primrose and Eureka dune grass. The latter two are considered endangered species. Avoid disturbing dune vegetation.
- The Eureka Dunes are sometimes referred to as 'the singing dunes' for an eerie humming sound produced when dry sand grains - rounded and coated with silica - avalanche down steep faces of the highest dunes.
- The Eureka Sand Dunes rise nearly 700' from their base. Comparatively, the Panamint Dunes rise 340' and the Mesquite Flat Dunes 140'.
- There is one pit toilet and several picnic tables and fire pits in the Eureka Dune Parking Area.
- Winter conditions may restrict access. Always call ahead for road conditions.
Rules and Regulations
- Motorized vehicles of any kind are strictly prohibited in the dunes.
- Boarding is not permitted in the Eureka Dunes.
Directions to Trailhead
The Eureka Sand Dunes are located in the northern section of Death Valley National Park. The dune field lies in the Eureka Valley, which separates the Last Chance Mountains (east) from the Saline Range (west).
Travel 2.7 miles north of the Grapevine Entrance Station on Ubehebe Crater Road to the marked turnoff for the Eureka Dunes. Bear Right. Here pavement ends and a well maintained graded dirt road begins. You'll reach Crankshaft Junction in approximately 21 miles and begin a winding climb through the Last Chance Mountains and down Winding Rock Canyon (the latter portion is partially paved). 33.4 miles from the initial turnoff you'll reach another for the dunes - bear left 9.7 miles down a graded dirt road to the dune parking area.
Death Valley National Park
P.O. Box 579
Death Valley, CA 92328