Racetrack Playa, USA
Murali Narayanan
Murali Narayanan www.muralipix.com
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USA Racetrack Playa

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Racetrack Playa is a large, dry lakebed located in Death Valley National Park. It is fairly large, about 3 miles long (north to south) and 2 miles wide (east to west). For years, there had been many theories behind what causes these rocks to move across the dry surface of the playa. Hurricane-like winds, people, ice, and animals were all on the list as potential causes.

The mystery was solved in 2014 when researchers monitored the rocks using scientific equipment. When it rains, the Racetrack Playa becomes a shallow lake. At night during the winter, the water freezes, trapping the rocks in the ice. The next day, as the surface warms up, the ice breaks up and a steady breeze pushes the rocks over this wet, slippery surface. These rocks can move up to several feet in one day!

Photography Tips

Use a wide angle and shoot low to capture the rocks and their tracks.

Travel Information

The road to the Racetrack is rough, and good tires, 4x4 and high clearance are usually required. Standard rental vehicles are not recommended, and often get flat tires. Use extreme caution on this road in the summer heat. There is no cell phone coverage in the area. Drive time from Furnace Creek is at least 3.5 hours each way. Carry extra water and food in case you get stuck until help arrives. Consider using the SOS capability of iphone14 in case of emergency.
Spot Type Outdoor
Crowd Factor Nearly no other people
Best Timing Sunset during spring
Sunrise & Sunset 05:44 - 20:08 | current local time: 22:18
Photo Themes Hills Lakebed rocks

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