Death Valley National Park: Eureka Dunes via Last Chance Range

Traverse the Last Chance Range en route to the highest sand dunes in California and the abandoned Crater Mine on this difficult, 40-mile out-and-back in Death Valley.
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Traverse the Last Chance Range en route to the highest sand dunes in California and the abandoned Crater Mine on this difficult, 40-mile out-and-back in Death Valley.

The Last Chance Mountains stretch north-to-south from the Nevada border into Death Valley National Park, bisecting Eureka Valley to the west and Death Valley to the east. The range's snow-capped, 7,000-foot mountains contrast remarkably against the sand, salt flats, and rugged canyons that surround them.
Navigate across this secluded range (and summit 11 peaks) on this very challenging, multi-day backpacking trip through one of the remotest sections of California. The route turns around just south of the Last Chance Range at the 700-foot Eureka Dunes--some of the highest sand dunes in the world at more than 3,000 feet above sea level.
Maps and compass skills—in addition to a high level of fitness—are required in order to successfully complete this 40-mile trek.
-Mapped by Roger Homrich, the first person to thru-hike Death Valley Traverse.
PRO Trip Info

Contact
Furnace Creek Visitor Center & Museum (760) 786-3200
Scotty's Castle Visitor Center (760) 786-2392 ext.231
nps.gov/deva

Potable Water: Water can be found at all park communities, visitor centers, contact stations and museums.

Fuel: It’s best to keep a full tank in your vehicle as distances are great in and around the park. The nearest gas stations are at Stovepipe Wells (45 miles south), Furnace Creek (53 miles South), and Beatty, Nevada (60 miles southeast).

Groceries: Limited groceries can be purchased in the park at the Furnace Creek Ranch General Store. Panamint Springs Resort and Stovepipe Wells have convenience stores. Outside the park, buy basics in Beatty, NV and Shoshone, CA. The nearest supermarket is in Pahrump, NV.

Weather: Death Valley is the hottest and driest place in North America. Summer temperatures can reach 120°F (49°C) in the shade, with overnight lows dropping into the 90s°F (mid 30s°C.) Average rainfall is less than 2 inches. Occasional thunderstorms, especially in late summer, can cause flashfloods.

Where to Eat

Furnace Creek Resort (closed in summer)
Dining Room: Serves breakfast, Sunday Brunch, lunch and dinner (dress code). Reservations recommended.
Lobby Bar: Drinks in the afternoon and evening. Don’t miss about afternoon tea.

Furnace Creek Ranch
Forty-Niner Cafe: Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Limited summer hours.
Wrangler Steakhouse & Buffet: Buffet-style breakfast and lunch. Steakhouse for dinner. Limited hours.
Corkscrew Saloon: Drinks and snacks served in afternoon and evening.
The 19th Hole: Burgers and sandwiches next to the golf course. Closed in summer.

Stovepipe Wells Village
Toll Road Restaurant: Breakfast, lunch and dinner; casual setting. Limited hours. No lunch in summer.
Badwater Saloon: Drinks and appetizers served in afternoon and evening.

Panamint Springs Resort
Dining & Bar: Breakfast, lunch and dinner year-round.

Lodging options inside the park

Furnace Creek Resort
328 Greenland Boulevard
Death Valley, CA 92328
(760) 786-2345
furnacecreekresort.com

Stovepipe Wells Village
California 190
Death Valley Junction, CA 92328
(760) 786-2387
escapetodeathvalley.com

Panamint Springs Resort & RV Park
California 190
Death Valley, CA 92328
775-482-7680

A few lodging options outside the park

Beatty, NV - Bailey’s Hot Springs RV Park; 775-553-2395
Amargosa Valley, NV - Longstreet Motel & RV Park; 775-372-1777
Death Valley Junction, CA - Amargosa Hotel; 760-852-4441
Pahrump, NV - Pahrump Nugget Hotel; 866-751-6500
Shoshone, CA - Shoshone Inn; 760-852-4335
Tecopa, CA - Ranch House Inn B&B; 760-852-4360
Ridgecrest, CA - Motel 6; 800-466-8356
Inyokern, CA - Mayfair Motel; 760-377-4321
Olancha, CA - Rustic Motel; 760-764-2209
Lone Pine, CA - Mt. Whitney Motel; 800-845-2362
Independence, CA - Independence Courthouse Motel; 800-801-0703
Big Pine, CA - Big Pine Resort Cottages; 760-938-2922
Bishop, CA - Thunderbird Inn; 760-873-4215

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 32.2

Waypoints

DUN001

Location: 37.3331429, -117.706275

From Willow Creek Road, head south into the Last Chance Range. In the next 4.5 miles, you'll hike over 6 unnamed peaks before cresting 8,456-foot Last Chance Mountain.

DUN002

Location: 37.3166256, -117.7061248

Crest a 7,242-foot peak. Ahead, the route curves to the south, then the southeast to the second summit.

DUN003

Location: 37.3064199, -117.7022195

Crest a 7,526-foot peak, then descend to a saddle.

DUN004

Location: 37.3052251, -117.7003312

Turn right on the saddle, heading southwest.

DUN005

Location: 37.2957348, -117.7042043

Summit a 7,735-foot peak, then continue heading south.

DUN006

Location: 37.287131, -117.7042258

Crest a broad ridge and bear left, heading southeast over a 8,361-foot summit.

DUN007

Location: 37.2866701, -117.7028954

Hike across a 8,361-foot peak, then follow the ridgeline east. Ahead, follow the ridge as it curves to the south and drops to a saddle below Last Chance Mountain. From the saddle, continue south to the summit of Last Chance Mountain.

DUN008

Location: 37.2802337, -117.6998806

Summit 8,456-foot Last Chance Mountain, the highest point along this route. Next, follow the ridgetop over 4 more unnamed peaks. After cresting the 4th summit, you'll descend a steep, dirt slope to a saddle.

DUN009

Location: 37.2779458, -117.6917052

From this saddle, head south. The route skirts the summit of an 8,211-foot peak.

DUN010

Location: 37.2712866, -117.6910937

Crest a 8,250-foot peak. From here, briefly head east, then follow the ridgeline to the south to a 7,978-foot peak.

DUN011

Location: 37.2677348, -117.6876605

Summit a 7,978-foot peak. Ahead: Head southeast, then follow the ridgetop as it curves to the south toward another summit.

DUN012

Location: 37.2611772, -117.6856863

From the 7,853-foot summit, head south, then east to a small saddle.

DUN013

Location: 37.2589571, -117.6815557

From the saddle, descend the drainage to the south, which leads to a mineshaft located at the end of a dirt road. From here, follow the dirt road 2.2 miles to a flat area and set up camp. Tip: Pick a spot with protection because this area can get very cold and windy.

DUN014

Location: 37.220192, -117.6841583

From your campsite, follow the dirt road to the southwest to Crater Mine.

DUN015

Location: 37.2117195, -117.690918

Pass Crater Mine. Turn left onto Big Pine Road and follow it for 2 miles.

DUN016

Location: 37.1924931, -117.6804829

Turn right and leave the road. Head southeast into the canyon. Cache spot.

DUN017

Location: 37.1857643, -117.6748428

Continue southeast at the fork in the canyon. Ahead: Hike over gravel, passing beautifully colored canyon walls before reaching another fork in the canyon.

DUN018

Location: 37.1721039, -117.6719437

Continue straight at the second fork in the canyon, heading south through the wash. The canyon walls are a few hundred feet higher than the wash.

DUN019

Location: 37.1514237, -117.6784229

This open, flat area between two 4,000-foot foothills is a good place to rest. When you're ready, descend south-southeast through the narrow valley between the foothills.

DUN020

Location: 37.1391088, -117.6718998

Take a moment to stop and look around at this panoramic point, which showcases the dunes below and the snowy Inyo Range. Continue south-southeast for 1.6 miles to a camping spot north of the Eureka Dunes.

DUN021

Location: 37.116684, -117.6647034

Campsite: Camp on the alluvial material to the north of the dune's peak. From this area, campers have great views of the valley and Inyo Range as well as unforgettable sunsets and sunrises. There is also a primitive camp in the area. No water or protection is available at this spot. Next, head south to Eureka Dunes.

DUN022

Location: 37.1009882, -117.6625872

Eureka Dunes are almost 700 feet tall, the highest dunes in California and some of the tallest in the U.S. Walking on the dunes or along their base is slow and tedious because the sand is so soft. Turn around at this point and retrace your route back to Waypoint 1.

Eureka Dunes

Location: 37.1008855, -117.6620293

©Roger Homrich

Last Chance

Location: 37.2821288, -117.6988721

©Roger Homrich

Crater Mine

Location: 37.2117036, -117.6907182

©Roger Homrich