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Panamint Dunes Trail is a 7 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Death Valley, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from October until April.

Length 7.0 mi Elevation gain 859 ft Route type Loop
Hiking Nature trips Walking Bird watching Views Wild flowers Off trail Fee No dogs
Description
Waypoints (0)

Death Valley National Park charges a fee to enter. Fees are $30 per vehicle or $25 per motorcycle. If you are entering on foot, horse, or bike the fee is $15 per person. You can also purchase a park specific annual pass for $55. This is the route from the Panamint Dunes parking lot, through the desert, to the base of the dunes. There is no marked trail.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (29)
Photos (16)
Recordings (17)
Completed (56)
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Jess Cooper
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 26, 2020
HikingGreat!No shadeOff trail

As others have said, there is no trail, just walk towards the dunes and you'll be fine. On the way there, turn around occasionally and take some mental pictures so that going back you won't get lost. The road out there is pretty rough, although we did it in a small sedan going veryyyy slowly. We had the dunes (almost) all to ourselves selves and it makes a wonderful overnight hike. The stars and solitude are amazing, and it is deathly quiet.

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TJ McNulty
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarApril 5, 2020
HikingNo shadeOff trail

There is no actual trail you just kinda trek through the dessert brush, so if you have Pro download the trail and it helps tremendously. If you don’t have pro and can’t download the map, you turn down the gravel road at the yellow sign in the valley that says to turn off the air conditioning. You’ll need an SUV or a car with higher ground clearance on the road because there are a few wash out ruts. I didn’t think to track the mileage, but the trail head is roughly 30 minutes down on the left. You’ll see the trail entrance, but after that you just pick the spot on the horizon (middle of the four dunes) and keep that as your horizon point on the hike. On the hike back the parking lot is a little right of the mountain peak, so the peak is a decent horizon point to walk towards. The hike itself is boring, but when you get to the dunes it’s pretty cool. Deceivingly uphill pitch, but you really don’t notice until you look back about 1/2 way through. There was zero wind when we got there and I’m confident it was the quietest place I’ve ever been. Super windy on the way back. First week of April was a great time for the hike, weather was perfect and there were a bunch of flowers in bloom. There was a few groups camping off the gravel road on the way out.

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Jack Bassett
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarFebruary 29, 2020
HikingNo shadeOff trail

There is no "trail". You'll start at the parking lot, and the gist is to beeline it from the “trailhead” (the parking lot) to the dunes across a vegetated desert for 3.5 miles. The foliage isn’t particularly interesting, but the Panamint Valley is littered with Desert Twinbug plants, which smell very fragrant in the winter, almost like a natural laundry detergent. This, weirdly enough, made the fairly monotonous and sun-laden hike to the Dunes quite pleasant. Once you get to the dunes, you can feel free to climb about the dunes until you’ve had your fill, and then return back to the trailhead the same way you came. You likely won’t be able to see your car, so utilization of a compass or an app would be good here. The coolest thing about Panamint Dunes is the solitude. I saw one other person and did not see any footprints on the dunes at all. I think this is a distinct selling point versus the more accessible Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. These dunes additionally aren’t even close to being as vast and tall as the Eureka Dunes. But, if you are looking to experience dunes in seemingly untouched state, the Panamint Dunes are a fine alternative to Eureka if you don’t want to spend the three hours each way in travel time. I give this trail 3 stars because I didn't feel like the dunes were worth the work involved with the long dirt road, proximity to basically nothing else in the park, and the uneventful hike towards the dunes themselves. The solitude is probably this trail's best quality, but that's not exactly a huge selling point. In regards to actually getting there, Lake Hill Road is not marked or signed, and can be easily missed when trying to find it from the 190 highway. The road is rough, but people have reported being able to pass it in a sedan. I personally have a high-clearance vehicle and my car did fine, but I did not feel comfortable exceeding 10mph at any point due to the dips and rough terrain. The parking lot is 5.7 miles in on Lake HIll road, right as the road starts carving off to the right. The lot is cordoned off with medium sized rocks, but it’s easy to miss due to the lack of obvious signage.

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Kaleigh Thorne
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 20, 2020
Hiking

Incredible views from start to finish. My husband and I camped out on the dunes and saw the most beautiful sunset looking down across the valley floor. Just unreal. The dunes are fairly small, but the 360 views and total solitude make this hike unique and worth the hot, straight walk from the parking lot.

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Mitchell R.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 25, 2019
HikingNo shadeOff trail

Incredible place! Definitely worthwhile but as previously mentioned, drive slow if you’re taking a smaller car. I took a Toyota Corolla and it took me about a 30min drive to move 8km. From there, it’s about a 5km walk to get to the dunes - but definitely worthwhile!

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Louis Bubala
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarDecember 23, 2019
HikingNo shadeOff trail
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Carrie Andrews
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 27, 2019
Hiking

Great destination! Playing on top of 300’ sand dunes all alone was amazing!!! It made the slog thru the desert worth it! Trail is whatever you want it to be from the little gravel parking lot 5.8 miles in on Lake Hill Rd. Lake Hill Rd is unmarked but a right turn off before the dry lake on Rte 190 heading west toward Panamint. About 4 miles east of Panamint. It’s a rough road so go slow or have a SUV or truck. Once you park at the lot, you just make your way to the sand dunes in the distance. Any way you want. The rocky parts in the beginning turn to hardened sand until you get close to the dunes. I had some cloud cover luckily cause this is all In the sun. I probably wouldn’t do it in summer or direct sun. Very not. Need a lot of water. I also heard military jets above a few times which roar in the vast desert surrounded by mountains. Very cool sound. I brought hiking poles too which did help balance while walking on top of the sand DuNes. Super cool hike. I loved it. I’m from the NE and have never seen anything like this before. Worth the hike and lots of fun!!!

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Tasha Marie
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 18, 2019
No shadeOff trail

great trail, no one around, hot during the day. it was a high of 74 but the same just reflects it. the dunes were awesome.

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Tasha Marie
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMarch 17, 2019
Hiking

tough in the sun, really makes you appreciate those dunes you can drive up to. however, you will be the only one out there! have fun.

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Timothy Dodson
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HikingNo shadeOff trailRocky
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Jessica Steinacker
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 10, 2018

Recommend going early morning or afternoon. Beautiful views! Total solitude! No trails. Drive slow through unpaved road.

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Sean Holmes
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 14, 2016
Hiking

Fantastic hike. The dunes were stunning. Had the entire place to myself. Bring your tent and camp near the trail head for total solitude! No trail, not needed, just follow your own path to the dunes and you can see your car on the way back easy enough. Don't forget to trudge up Lake Mountain as well, you'll have a ton of pictures of it, might as well make the climb!

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Kyeong Hoon Jung
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 26, 2015
Hiking
First to Review

Great cross country hike! There is no trail to follow though if someone else got there before you, you can easily follow their tracks. The dunes are deceptively far away and there are several hills which may lead you to think you're almost done only o show that you are still far from reaching the dunes. Once you get there, the grandeur of dunes and the entirely panamint valley behind you can leave you in awe.

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Simon Keyes
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Hiking
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TJ McNulty
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Hiking
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Pierluigi Zontini
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Hiking
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He Ma
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Hiking
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Vince Chevalot
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Hiking
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John Pascarella
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Hiking
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Zach England
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Hiking
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Michael Lindquist
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Hiking
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