Looking back from the dunes to Telescope Peak
The Panamint Dunes are a small and compact area of dunes located at the northern end of the Panamint Valley. The dunes top out at an elevation of around 2700' which is a figure that changes with the wind. With a prominence of around 400', they are also among the tallest dunes in Death Valley though trailing the "world-famous" Eureka Dunes by 300'.
Due to its remoteness, the dunes are rarely visited and are, thus, almost always in pristine quality.
Getting to the dunes takes plenty of time.
The summit of the dunes is located 4 miles from the nearest road with the base located 2 miles from it. That road, the Big Four Mine Road, is located on the western section of CA-190 just east of Panamint Springs and Panamint Dry Lake. The road is unsigned (as of November, 2008) and may be washed out after rain.
Continue up until the road makes a right turn away from the dunes (visible in the distance) and park along the side of the road.
Despite its apparent closeness, the dunes require a 1 hour hike to reach. There is no defined trail (due to sand) so the best way to reach it is to pick the nearest route by heading straight for the highest dune (on the right).
Getting to the dunes is only half the adventure. Climbing it is really something else.
The going gets slower after reaching the base but continue straight on through the sand. The base of the highest dune is where things really get tough. Head for a ridge rather than climb straight up to save energy for the return.
No motorized vehicles allowed on the dunes!
Only foot traffic is allowed. No suitable camping spots around the dunes. Also, dogs are not allowed off the road.
This area is typically devoid of any water so be sure to carry plenty. Summer temperatures can be in the 110s so it would not be a good time to go. Also, watch for animal holes in the ground. If you don't, you're bound to step into/cave-in one.