Algodones Dunes

This gallery contains black & white photographs from my outings to Imperial Sand Dunes (also known as Algodones Dunes). This is one of the biggest dune vegetation systems in the United States. It is located about 2.5 hours east of San Diego. Extending from the Salton Sea to the Mexican border (and beyond) it is over 40 miles long, but only about 5-7 miles wide. Both Highway 78 and Interstate 8 traverse the dunes in an east-westerly direction. Furthermore, Highway 78 divides the dunes into the northern, protected Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area, and the larger, southern Algodones Dunes Recreation area.

More plants grow on the dunes of the northern part, but the larger and most beautiful dunes are in the southern part. The recreation area is used mostly in winter by friends of off-highway vehicles. In summer it is deserted, and the dunes are almost pristine. Thanks to the wind and the ever-shifting sand, they show only little signs of human activity. This makes summer the only time where it is possible to photograph the beautiful southern part of the dunes. Since this part of the Sonoran Desert does get tropical moisture from Mexico and Arizona, it is possible to get nice and stormy monsoon skies in summer. Timing my visits carefully with the weather report, that’s when I was out there to photograph the dunes.

On my first visit the dunes were wet because a storm had just passed through. On the second visit, the temperature was a surprisingly low 84F (29C). During my third visit the temperature was 95F (35C) and it was very windy. The fine sand prickled on my skin, driven by strong winds. On all three occasions, the humidity was high, and walking into the dunes is a strenuous, sweat-inducing act. Despite these conditions though, as one wanders into the dunes, the feeling of peace and solitude becomes imminent. To see the forces of nature unfold into the incredibly beautiful, elegant and perfect shapes, being surrounded by them, is nothing short of an enlightenment. It shines a light on our feeble existences and sets things into perspective.

I focused more on the graphical quality of the dunes, their shapes and lines – if you want to get an idea of the size of the dunes, please have a look at my wife’s photos from the second visit, she included me as I wandered into the dunes.



Also have a look at my three latest blog posts:

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