Mesquite Dunes, Cottonwood Mountains

Mesquite Dunes, Cottonwood Mountains
Mesquite Dunes, Cottonwood Mountains

Mesquite Dunes, Cottonwood Mountains. Death Valley National Park, California. March 20, 2010. © Copyright 2012 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

The Mesquite Dunes and the Cottonwood Mountains late on a hazy afternoon, Death Valley National Park, California

The Mesquite Dunes are a well-known icon of Death Valley and are often photographed in the early morning or around sunset. I made this photograph at a somewhat different time – late in the afternoon but well before the golden hour light of evening. The sun was still high enough to illuminate the tops of the dunes and even the sides away from the sun, and the afternoon haze made the atmosphere blue and obscured the rugged features of the Cottonwood Mountains beyond the dunes and across the Valley.

If you look closely enough, you can find a number of features that characterize this area of the valley. The foreground flats are “filled” with plants that grow a good distance apart from one another, apparently due to the limited water. The edge of the dunes spills over slightly into the gravelly flat but then rises quite high. Beyond the dunes, and faintly seen through the haze, a giant alluvial fan slants down from higher mountains to the left. (It sometimes surprises visitors to see how much the terrain in this very dry place has been shaped by water.) Beyond the sloping fan, the rugged Cottonwood Mountains, part of the Panamint Range, begin to rise to quite high peaks.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

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