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Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park

(90 reviews on the web)
Geologic Formation
The Eureka Valley Sand Dunes are located in the southern part of Eureka Valley, in northern Inyo County in eastern California, in the southwestern United States. Although covering an area of only 3 square miles (8 kmĀ²), the dunes rise approximately 680 feet (207 m) above the surrounding valley floor, making them one of the highest dune fields in North America. Eureka Valley is a basin and range structural valley oriented northwest-southeast and enclosed by the Last Chance Range to the east and the Saline Range to the west. The Eureka Dunes themselves are located in the southeastern most tip of the valley and trend north-south, parallel to Last Chance Range. According to a USGS survey map, the surrounding mountain ranges contain rocks that date back to the Mississippian and Cambrian periods while the surficial deposits on the valley floor are made up mainly of alluvium dating to the Quaternary period. They are also classified as booming sand dunes, one of only about forty worldwide.Accessed via a gravel road in Eureka Valley (which connects to a road running from Big Pine to the Grapevine section of Death Valley), the dunes became part of the Death Valley National Park as part of its expansion in 1994. Foot travel in the dunes is permitted, but vehicle access is prohibited. A primitive campground is located at the north end of the dune field.MorphologyThe Eureka Dunes are an example of a complex-linear dune- the main ridge is a static linear dune but there are active star dunes formations superimposed on the linear dune A linear dune has alternating slip faces on opposite sides of the crest. This means it both sides of the dune have similar slopes and wind must have come from both the northern and southern ends of the valley. Star dunes have "arms" radiating off of a central crest that change direction as the wind direction changes. Little is known about the past of the Eureka Dunes and its development. The sand source is unknown, although some scientists believed that it originated from an ancient lake at the northern end of the valley.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • You don't need to get on a rocket ship to see another planet--simply get on CA 190 and drive through Death Valley. Where else can you be below sea level and yet be the hottest place on earth. Where el...  more »
  • I was there to photograph the dunes in the sunset. The sunset wasn't great but I got some photos and then again in the morning when the shadows were good.  more »
  • FYI I wouldn't go exploring around the dunes on the dirt roads without 4WD and high clearance. These dunes are huge and if you are planning to hike to the top of a high peak, better giver yourself ple...  more »