No one knows for sure why boulders,rocks, and stones move around a gorgeously vacant area of California’s Death Valley National Park called The Racetrack, but they do. Big rocks, small rocks–they all creep around the incredibly flat expanse leaving a clearly visible trail behind to mark their mysterious path.
Heading to the Race Track area of Death Valley National Park.
The Racetrack is real
One theory is that the rocks sail across the land at The Racetrack when the right amount of water slicks up the clay and the right amount of wind propels the rocks across it, hence their nickname: sailing stones. When we were in Death Valley National Park we didn’t really care what the explanation was, we just wanted to see them for ourselves. That turned out to be easier said than done.
Teakettle Junction on Racetrack Road is marked by one of the more free-form national park signs you’ll ever see.
To reach The Racetrack you have to drive 27 miles (43 km) down Racetrack Road, a vehicle busting dirt track. We blew out a shock absorber on our way to The Racetrack but we still fared better than the poor sod we saw on the side of Racetrack Road who had not one but two flat tires.
Your journey to The Racetrack in Death Valley National Park begins here at Ubehebe Crater.
Is The Racetrack worth it? You bet.
Panorama of The Racetrack, a dry lake bed in Death Valley National Park, where scientists are at a loss to explain how or why rocks appear to move around by themselves.
The Racetrack from atop a rock formation called the “Grandstand” in California’s Death Valley National Park.
One of the so-called sailing stones which mysteriously move around a dry lake bed called The Racetrack in Death Valley National Park.
One of the so-called sailing stones which mysteriously move around a dry lake bed called The Racetrack in Death Valley National Park leaving trails behind them.
More of the so-called sailing stones which mysteriously move around The Racetrack in Death Valley National Park.
One of the so-called sailing stones which mysteriously move around The Racetrack in Death Valley National Park in California.
A group of so-called sailing stones which mysteriously move around The Racetrack in Death Valley National Park leaving trails behind them which sometimes create intricate designs in the dry lake bed.
A group of so-called sailing stones which mysteriously move around The Racetrack in Death Valley National Park leaving trails behind them creating intricate designs in the dry lake bed.
I really hope to get here one day. Such an incredible phenomenon, and, probably some of the most amazing scenery the US has to offer. Would love to ride my bike there.
Now THAT’s an awesome mystery. Any thoughts on how those boulders actually move? Any ‘old wives tales’? I’m incredibly curious.
Crazy Cool! I almost went one time and passed up the chance, won’t make that mistake twice. Where did you guys stay in this area? Is there any camping at this park? I know it must be brutal heat!
Just incredible! Those photographs really show the mystery of the Racetrack rocks. I know I drove through Death Valley as a kid but I would love to return to see the area again.
This is incredible! I’ll bookmark this for my next trip to the Death Valley. Thanks for the tip.
I was looking for a theory, or on the other hand, for one of the paths to print out “Sucker!” A little googling shows the most prevalent theory is that rain forms a slick surface and wind scoots the rocks along, with most traveling in the direction of prevalent winds.
Great photos–and I LOVE the Teakettle Junction sign!
A lovely set of photos.
I’d totally forgotten about this phenomena and didn’t take the time to drive in our rental car to check it out when we were last in Death Valley.
Love reading about weird and wonderful stories like this. Wonder how long it takes to leave the tracks? Cool photos!
Beautiful pictures, the landscape is overwhelming!
This is an amazing place! It is one of the places I most want to visit in the US
That is crazy! I’ve never heard of this phenomenon before, but those photos reminded me a little bit of the crop circle formations supposedly caused by aliens. I love these types of mysteries, and hope to make out to the Southwestern U.S. next year. Great photos…
Very cool. We were in Death Valley a few years ago, and we didn’t make it to the racetrack. I definitely want to see it next time.
Always like to see great articles and photographs about California!
Thanks and good luck on your journey!
I don’t think I’ve ever heard of these rocks, that sounds so awesome!
I’ve heard that it’s moist which gets beneath the stones in the night, which makes them move. I just wonder why the stones in my garden don’t move during night. ;-)
That stuff looks fascinating. How big are the rocks? Several meter boulder style or small things? Could they be ridden, I wonder.
The rocks come in all shapes and sizes from small pebbles to pretty big rocks. We didn’t see any massive boulders but some of the rocks were too big to pick up for sure. We did NOT try to ride any…
That’s amazing! Perhaps the rocks are alive and just move when we’re not watching.
…perhaps all the rocks everywhere are alive and they’re just waiting for their chance to attack us!!
Dum, dum dummmm….
Michael, have you looked out there lately, the rocks are everywhere! Now you’ve got me too sacred to go outside