Favorite Places: Racetrack Playa


Death Valley's Racetrack Playa is one of my favorite places in the world. I've been there several times over the past ten years, having fisrst visited it on a geology field trip in college.  Racetrack Milky Way Pano

There are few places on this earth that can boast rocks that move on their own - this place. The NPS website says:

Moving Rocks To see the moving rocks, drive two miles south of the Grandstand parking area. Walk at least a half mile toward the southeast corner of the playa for the best views of rocks and their tracks on the playa. Erosional forces cause rocks from the surrounding mountains to tumble to the surface of the Racetrack. Once on the floor of the playa the rocks move across the level surface leaving trails as records of their movements. Some of the moving rocks are large and have traveled as far as 1,500 feet. Throughout the years many theories have been suggested to explain the mystery of these rock movements. A research project has suggested that a rare combination of rain and wind conditions enable the rocks to move. A rain of about 1/2 inch, will wet the surface of the playa, providing a firm but extremely slippery surface. Strong winds of 50 mph or more, may skid the large boulders along the slick mud.


Visting the Racetrack is not easy - it lies at the end of a 40+ mile dirt road made from sharp rocks and washboard. But it is one of the most spectacularly weird landscapes on this planet.


If you haven't been there, you should definitely add it to your list of places to visit the next time you are in Death Valley!