001 - Death Valley, California
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Updated - March 2015 / with color photos
Here are the details you'll need to plan your photo trip to Death Valley: when is the best time of year; when is the best time of day to be out there on the dunes near Stove Pipe Wells and the remote Eureka Dunes. Tips on sunrise at Badwater and Zabriskie Point and sunset from Dante’s View and on visiting Titus, Mosaic, and Grotto Canyons.
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Because Death Valley receives an average of under two inches of rainfall each year, great desert wildflower shows are very rare. Death Valley, however, has many other things to photograph besides wildflowers. Number one on my list has always been the sand dunes. They are located center on the map of Death Valley National monument, and extend three miles from east to west and are a half mile wide.
The highest dunes are a hundred feet above the surface of the valley, which is just below sea level. You can drive to within 200 feet of the dunes on Highway 190, and park on the well-packed edge of the road and walk out into the dunes. Morning light is best because the sun rises over a range of mountains far to the southeast. In the afternoon, the sun drops behind the higher and much closer range of the Cottonwood Mountains in the west and the dunes are in shadow for at least an hour before there is any sunset color in the sky.