Crescent Dunes, referred to occasionally as Tonopah Dunes, is a sand dune complex just north of the town of Tonopah, Nevada. It consists of sands that spread across 3,000 acres with dunes that can reach heights of up to 300 feet.
Crescent Dunes is one of fewer than three dozen sand dunes known as a "singing" or "booming" dune. Under certain wind and moisture conditions, the dunes make a loud, low humming sound. Scientists are still unsure what exactly causes this sound, but several dunes in the Nevada and California region are capable of producing it, including Nevada's southern Amargosa Dunes and northern Sand Mountain, and California's Kelso Dunes and Eureka Dunes.
Crescent Dunes feature a particularly razor-backed shape, making them a steeper hike than many other dunes.
Off-road vehicles are permitted here, so hikers and photographers interested in seeing the dunes before they get marked by tracks should plan on trying to hike them in the very early morning be cautious about the presence of vehicles. Visiting the dunes on a weekday and during the winter months can increase the chances of seeing the dunes free from off-road vehicles. At an elevation of 5,000 feet, the region can get cold!
In 2014, the Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project began operating adjacent to the dunes. This project includes over 10,000 focused mirrors (heliostats) that direct solar light at a 640-foot-tall central tower. This energy complex dominates one direction of view from the dunes; however, the remaining vista contains only the lines of the surrounding mountains.
Camping is free at a wide dirt area beside the dunes. This area contains only two benches and a couple fire pits, and it also has a lot of broken glass. There are no bathrooms or trash collection at the dune area.