The Racetrack Playa located between the Last Chance Ranges and Cottonwood. It is the place of mystery and stunning beauty. It is a dry lakebed, with a tale of mysterious moving rocks. No one has actually seen the moving rocks, but the twisting tracks left behind in mud surface marks the moving activity. The place is also known as ‘The Racetrack’, which features sailing stones that imprints the racetrack. To be precise, it is situated on the northern-west side of Death Valley in Inyo Country, California, Death Valley.
The Racetrack Playa is 1130-meters above sea level and around 4.5-km long. It is exceptionally flat and levelled 1.5-inch higher than southern. The highest point which surrounds the Racetrack is 5,678-feet in Ubehebe Peak and above 1970-feet above lakebed to west. During rainy climate, the rain water washes down the Racetrack mountain area, forming short-lived endorheic lake. Due to the hot sun, the water dries up quickly, leaving layer of slick mud. The layer then dries up and forms patterns of interlocking polygons.
Moving Rocks or Sailing Rocks
You must have heard about the mysterious tale of moving stones which leaves an imprint on the mud layer. If you want to see the marks of moving or sailing stone, then you need to drive two-miles south to Grandstand parking area. Walking half miles toward south-east corner, one can get a better view of rocks and tracks to playa. The Erosional forces which surrounds the mountain causes the stones tumble to the surface of Racetrack. Some rocks are too huge and travel around 1,500 feet.
There are various theories bounded with the places explaining the mystery of rocks movements. As per the research, a rare combination of wind and rain enable the rocks move this far. A ½-inch of rain with the wet-land of playa providing extremely slippery surface. Also the winds are 50-mph, which skid large boulders along the slick mud.
Image credit @Thema kawo
If you are planning to visit the area, please remember the surface of Racetrack Playa is very fragile. Driving off the established road is strictly prohibited. Also, removing sailed rock is not allowed. One must avoid walking in the muddy area leaving their traces which will indirect damage the Racetrack Playa.
Phenomenal view of sailing stone
The geological phenomenon which is found in Racetrack, it is the slab of syenite and dolomite which range 100-grams to kilogram which sail down marking a long trail. The cause of moving stones has not known yet, but are without the intervention of animals or human. The track was scrutinized from early 1900’s till 2014, yet no one has seen the stones in motion. It occurs only once in every three-two years.
Two isle of bedrock have raised dramatically above Playa. The larger landmark is 73-feet high dark-dolomite names as ‘The Grandstand’, while the second island is carbonate outcrop.