The Buckwheat Sand Dunes are the least known sand dunes in Death Valley, having a vast expanse of dunes spread throughout rocky hillsides that are located in an isolated area accessible only by 4WD vehicle or a very long hike. Difficulties encountered on the hike include correctly navigating unsigned rough roads to get to the starting point and hiking (or sliding) up and down steep sections of sand dunes. A Google Earth map of the hiking route (turned to the northwest for better viewing) can be found by clicking on the button above. GPS coordinates for the parking area are 35° 47.139'N, 116° 27.260'W. GPS coordinates for Summit Dune are 35° 47.185'N, 116° 27.936'W.
When I finished my hike of the Hidden Dunes in Eureka Valley back in 2007, I figured that my mission to see and experience all of Death Valley's majestic sand dunes had come to an end. At that point, I had fully documented all six of the major sand dune systems in the park, including the Mesquite Dunes, Eureka Dunes, Ibex Dunes, Panamint Dunes, Saline Valley Dunes, and Hidden Dunes. Little did I know that seven years later, I would once again have the thrill of experiencing a brand new (for me) sand dunes system within the park. About one year ago, I was contacted by a Death Valley hiker who encouraged me to take a closer look at the Buckwheat Wash area. The hiker mentioned that he had explored "immense piles of sand" and that I should check out the area. After researching the area through satellite imagery, I was stunned to find what looked like an entire sand dunes system which was currently undocumented. I later found out that there were a few pictures of these sand dunes here and there, but nothing in the form of a trip report or full documentation of these sand dunes which were located in Buckwheat Wash. At that point, I made definite plans to visit the Buckwheat Dunes, which would become known as the seventh major sand dunes system in Death Valley. I quickly realized that the biggest obstacle to seeing the Buckwheat Dunes in person would be the difficulty in getting there. Reaching the Buckwheat Dunes would involve either hiking over 5 miles one-way to the east from Harry Wade Road and wrapping north around a long sloping hillside just to get to the dunes, or renting a 4WD and driving to the foot of the actual dunes. The thought of saving about 10 miles of hiking plus being able to turn my visit to the Buckwheat Dunes into a family hike made the decision easy. Thus, I picked up a Jeep rental from Farabee's during my February 2014 trip and we all headed out to spend a day at the Buckwheat Dunes. Driving in with 4WD was quite fun and enjoyable. The only issue was making sure that we took all the correct turns as marked on our map. It took less than an hour for us to reach the Buckwheat Dunes from the highway. In exploring the dunes, I had created a loop hike at home which looked like the best way to see everything in the area. It ended up working out perfectly and we truly enjoyed our time at the Buckwheat Dunes. There definitely proved to be immense piles of sand to explore. My favorite aspect, of course, was being able to walk on towering sand ridges that were unmarked by human footprints. It made for great photography and tremendous beauty, especially with blooming wildflowers visible in many areas. My final impression was that the Buckwheat Sand Dunes are among the best in the park. If you are interested in carrying out the Buckwheat Sand Dunes loop hike that I have created, you will need to check out my route map linked to at the top of this page. The loop hike consists of visits to Lower Dune 1, Lower Dune 2, Secret Dune, Summit Dune, and Giant Dune, with optional side trips to Lower Dune 3, Ridge Dune, and Sand Top. Our hike took place on February 23, 2014.
Many more photographs taken during our visit are available for viewing for this destination. To see all of them, choose one of the two options presented below. The two options are Slideshow viewing and Trip Report viewing. The Slideshow option allows for viewing larger images with an autoplay option and a full screen option (available on most browsers). This option works very well for large computer screens and tablets. The Trip Report option allows for viewing smaller pictures in a standard scroll-down format and enlarging of any panoramic photos taken during our visit. Click on the option of your choice to view all of our photos from this destination. The Slideshow format opens in a new browser window and the Trip Report format uses the same browser window for viewing.
TRIP REPORT FORMAT