Firestorm - Eureka Sand Dunes, Death Valley, California
If this photo looks slightly dark, it should. This was one of the most unique weather systems I've ever seen in my life.
The evening started out with huge ominous clouds filling the sky, followed by pouring rain, lightening, sunshine, more rain and some hail.
Just before the sun dipped below the mountains to the West the clouds split and the sky lit up just enough to cast a huge double rainbow over the entire desert.
The sky surrounding the rainbow and dunes was charcoal, nearly black. The dunes were lit with yellow & magenta casting strange light over the entire landscape.
It's hard to tell from this photo, but the scale of this scene is massive. This picture comes from 3 handheld horizontal raw files blended in photoshop to create approximately 180 degree field of view.
The dunes alone are 700 feet tall on the righthand side of the photo... given that size the rainbow probably peaks out at 2000+ feet in the air or more. Cool stuff!
I spent 3 days in the Eureka dunes area. For anyone that's ever been there you know there is nothing to do besides hike and sweat your ass off.
Most of my days were spent reading, napping & writing. The nights were spent shooting & exploring.
Next time your here try hiking out on the dunes at night... make sure to take a map and compass. During the day this place is easy to navigate. At night, with no Moon I nearly had a scare. I was lost for at least an hour in the dunes.
Thankfully there is a road North West of the dunes so tracking a NW heading on the compass you're sure to hit it! That's the only thing that kept me from spending the night on the dunes.
This location really interested me so upon returning home I started to read a lot about the area. Here is some cool info from the National Park Website:)
At first glance the Eureka Dunes appear desolate. What could possibly survive the hardships of this area? Plants and animals must endure the shifting sands, as a windstorm could bury them alive or expose them to the drying sun. The dry surface is deceptive, for dunes can hold water like a sponge. The Eureka Dunes receive more rainfall than others in the Death Valley area because their location at the western base of a mountain range that captures precipitation from passing storms. For perhaps 10,000 years these dunes have existed, providing a unique habitat for specialized lifeforms to evolve. The isolation of Eureka Dunes from other dune fields has led to the development of endemic species of plants and animals that are found nowhere else in the world. Besides 5 species of endemic beetles, 3 special plants have their entire range limited to this island of sand.
The climb to the summit of the dunes is not an easy walk. All the slopes are steep and the loose sand gives way beneath your feet. At the top, the sweeping view seems reward enough for your efforts, yet if the sand is completely dry you may experience one of the strangest phenomena to be found in the desert: singing sand. When the sand avalanches down the steepest face of the highest dune, a sound like a bass note of a pipe organ or the distant drone of an airplane can be heard eminating from the sand. If the dune is at all damp (even though it may not feel so to the touch) no sound will be made. Why this occurs is not fully understood, but may have something to do with the smooth texture of the sand grains and the friction of those grains sliding against each other.
Thanks for looking,
Dave MorrowDave Morrow ChromecastDave Morrow PhotographyDave Morrow Star PhotographyNik Color Efex ProNikkor 1424 f2.8GNikkor 28300mm f3.55.6Nikon D800Really Right Stuff TVC34L Versa Series 3 Tripoddave morrow milky waydave morrow milky way photosdave morrow night photographydave morrow night photosdave morrow photography videosdave morrow photosdave morrow tutorialsdave morrow video tutorialsdeath valley hikingdeath valley national parkdeath valley photoseureka dunes death valleyhiking reportsphoto locations death valleyphotography death valleyreally right stufftrip reports