Death Valley is part of the largest desert in North America, namely the Mojave Desert. Of course, when one thinks of the desert, one of the first things they picture are sand dunes. The one thing that surprised me about my visit to the valley was, while there were dunes, the majority of the park (at least the parts that I saw) was more valley floor and mountains. Fortunately, down a few miles from our hotel, the Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes were there waiting for us to explore. Arriving at the parking lot for the dunes about an hour before sunrise, we trudged out toward the dunes in the distance with our flashlights and head lamps. Along the way, the clouds began to put on a light show, before the sun peeked above the horizon (we were lucky enough to have clouds most of the week, which is most unusual for Death Valley). I shot a number of photos of the clouds, but my heart was waiting for the sun to light up the landscape and the dunes to the west.
As you can see in this photo, the sun did its job and delivered amazing soft light that exceeded my expectations. My main subject was the big dune in the background, which is the highest point in Mesquite Flats (more on that in future posts). The sun and clouds were kind to me, leaving a soft pink glow in the sky. A great start to an amazing morning.