Death Valley: Dante’s View Sunrise

Death Valley National Park is a phenomenal study of erosion, weather, geology, sand dunes, salt formations, and huge spring wildflower blooms on rare occasions.

This post covers Dante’s View at an elevation of 5,475 feet (1669 meters). It’s an easy paved road to the top, weather permitting. In the winter, the park service may close the road because of snow.

Feature Image Details

This a primarily a pre-dawn shot. As soon as the sun hits the opposite peaks there is enormous contrast. In the afternoon, you will be shooting into very harsh light, if not straight into the sun.

Even more so than Zabriskie Point, do not be late for Dante’s View. Plan to be at the top no later than 30 minutes before sunrise.

You do not need clouds for the image to work. Frequently you can catch the Belts of Venus, pink bands of light just above the horizon as I have in the feature image, but with some clouds.


That’s not snow on the ground. It’s salt. Dante’s View is a sweeping panorama of Badwater Basin, over a mile below.

Foreground Subject

One of the difficulties photographing Dante’s View is lack of a foreground subject. I took the feature image very close to the parking lot. There are trails, and I scouted them out, but the views do not improve much.

Second Pre-Dawn Image 

If you arrive early, watch the light behind you. The above two shots were not taken on the same day.

Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

Zabriskie Point

If you missed it, please check out my previous article Death Valley: Zabriskie Point Sunrise, Manly Beacon.


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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

5 thoughts on “Death Valley: Dante’s View Sunrise

  1. That second image: what planet were you on again?
    I’m sure you take a few moments of time with eye not fixed in viewfinder, just long enough to enjoy the incredible place you have got up at a God-awful hour to drive hours to, with a special pre-dawn cool that is so fleeting…and the light – oh, the light.
    (I’ve paraglided off dunes in Death Valley when the Owens was blown out and a batch of us went camping – full moon moonlight flights off the dunes – watching your shadow for depth perception on landing. A very special place.)

  2. Salt flats: Anybody wanting a strange walk might find it fun in Oct or April to head across the valley from Badwater under a full moon. After about 11:30 the moon rises over the hills to the east. No flash light needed. In the middle, you’re surrounded by 3 miles of bright white in all directions. Best if it has rained and there are a few inches of water to wade through over the whole expanse. 6 or 7 miles to get to the West Side Road from Badwater, so double that, round trip. Zero point zero zero zero elevation gain. Absolute silence. Not a place for non-nanoscopic living things. Sobering to think of how fried you’d be if you were caught out there in the daytime sun.

    When I first discovered this walk, I finished the night by riding south 60 miles through the valley on my orange and white R5B with no headlight and no cars. Ah, good times. Good times.

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