Crescent Dunes

Western Nevada, Nevada

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Crescent Dunes


  • Before sunrise at Crescent Dunes.- Crescent Dunes
  • Morning climb up the dune.- Crescent Dunes
  • A mountainous skyline surrounds the dune area.- Crescent Dunes
  • Looking over the adjacent solar power complex.- Crescent Dunes
  • Sunrise and sunset are the best times of day to see the textures and shadows across the dunes.- Crescent Dunes
  • Dawn shadows over the Crescent Dunes.- Crescent Dunes
  • Viewing the dunes from the ground.- Crescent Dunes
  • Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project viewed from the dunes.- Crescent Dunes
  • Footsteps about 60 feet above a sheer slope to the valley floor.- Crescent Dunes
  • Volcanic rock scattered along the ground surrounding the dunes.- Crescent Dunes
  • Soft and hard shadows along the dunes at sunrise.- Crescent Dunes
  • The campground adjacent to the dunes.- Crescent Dunes
Overview + Weather
Scenic environment. Very photogenic.
ORV traffic. New solar plant obscures natural feeling.
Western Nevada, NV
Pets allowed: 
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

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.

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Field Guide

Field Guide

Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Adventures

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

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