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Mesquite Flat Dunes

Kyle Huber


Behind the Shot

The ever-shifting sands of Mesquite Flat Dunes in California’s Death Valley National Park look a lot different today than they did in 1975. If you squint your eyes and use your imagination, you may see the very dunes where R2-D2 decided to part ways with C-3P0 on the desert planet of Tatooine. A few years later George Lucas and crew returned to Death Valley in 1982 to film scenes for Return of the Jedi.

Located at the northern end of the valley floor of Death Valley, it’s not exactly the farthest point from the bright center of the universe, but the mile-long walk out to this location might feel that way. It’s best done early in the morning, because temperatures can easily top 100 degrees Fahrenheit by midday much of the year.

Kyle traveled here on an early January morning, “It was my first time ever in Death Valley. The dunes are iconic, and are a must-visit location here. We knew it was normally busy with tourists and hikers, so we headed out very early in the morning. After a mile-long hike from the parking area, we were far enough out that there was no one else around. I stood on top of this dune and could see the panorama in front of me, with the morning sunlight accentuating the texture and shape of these beautiful slopes. It totally felt like I was on another planet.”