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Amargosa Big Dune

Las Vegas + Southern Nevada, Nevada

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Amargosa Big Dune

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  • Parking area for two-wheel drive cars before the sand becomes soft nearer the dune.- Amargosa Big Dune
  • This informational kiosk is the only amenity of any type around the dunes.- Amargosa Big Dune
  • The road to the dunes in the early morning light.- Amargosa Big Dune
  • Sunrise over the dune complex.- Amargosa Big Dune
  • Sunrise over the dune brush.- Amargosa Big Dune
  • The Amargosa Dunes make for amazing landscape photography.- Amargosa Big Dune
  • Dune contours.- Amargosa Big Dune
  • Texture and color at the Amargosa Dunes.- Amargosa Big Dune
  • Sunrise shadows can make the dunes appear to be another world.- Amargosa Big Dune
  • Shadows and texture at the Amargosa Dunes.- Amargosa Big Dune
  • Shadows and texture at the Amargosa Dunes.- Amargosa Big Dune
  • Wandering mountains - the source of the dunes' singing.- Amargosa Big Dune
  • Shadows and texture at the Amargosa Dunes.- Amargosa Big Dune
  • Hiking these dunes is extremely slow, but well worth it.- Amargosa Big Dune
  • Protected habitat for the Big Dune Beetle.- Amargosa Big Dune
  • Sunrise at the Amargosa Dunes.- Amargosa Big Dune
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Very scenic. Amazing sunrises and sunsets.
Cons: 
Lots of ORV activity. Requires a good amount of slow walking to reach the dune.
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Region:
Las Vegas + Southern Nevada, NV
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

The Amargosa Dunes, also called Big Dune, are a star dune complex lying about 100 miles north of Las Vegas in the arid Amargosa Valley.

Much like the desert itself, the appeal of the dunes is much more subtle than other types of outdoor locales. While its distant location and extremely slow traversing ensure that no visit to the site comes without putting in some effort, the rewards can be ethereal.

The Amargosa Dunes were formed  over time when wind would blow excess dirt from a bend in the Amargosa River - a river that continues to make its way from Nevada to the Death Valley basin. This dirt remains mostly hidden underground except after wet periods. Referred to as a migrating dune field, the shape of the dunes - occupying about 5 square miles - continues to move and change, with the tallest of the dunes standing generally between 300 and 500 feet. 

The Amargosa Dunes also possess the qualities needed to make a sound under certain wind conditions, often called 'singing dunes' or 'booming dunes', a quality shared by nearby Dumont DunesKelso Sand Dunes and Eureka Sand Dunes, each located in California.

Its location along the desert river has traditionally made it a sacred place to Southern Paiute and Numic speaking peoples, whose stories tell of the different migrating and singing dunes throughout the California and Nevada regions being fluid and communicative creatures.

The Amargosa Dunes are also home to four species of sensitive species of beetles, among which is the threatened Big Dune Beetle. The critically sensitive population of and exclusive habitat for this beetle have led the BLM to designate a portion of the dunes as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.

One significant detail about the dune area is its use by ORVs. With the exception of the protected area and rules against riding over vegetation, ORVs have free reign of the dunes, making it potentially dangerous for hikers and other visitors. Though the dunes tend to see a lot fewer ORVs than other non-protected dune areas, the Amargosa dunes can get busy and noisy with ORV riders, particularly on weekends. Visitors should be acutely aware of this and take all safety precautions. Visiting during early morning hours and on weekdays can reduce the potential number of drivers on the dunes.

The nearest amenities of any kind are about 10 miles south on Highway 95 at Amargosa Valley junction, or 20 miles north in the town of Beatty. 

Camping is permitted surrounding the base of the dune.

Depending on conditions, two-wheel drive vehicles should be able to make it relatively close to the dunes; however, wet conditions as well as shifting soft sand can easily cause cars to get stuck, so those without large four-wheel drive vehicles should follow existing roads and be careful about getting out and checking if there is any uncertainty about traction.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(3 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(20 within a 30 mile radius)

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