You are here

How'd They Do That?

Racetrack, Death Valley National Park, Kurt Repanshek photo.
Kurt Repanshek
Sunday, February 22, 2009

One of the great mysteries of the National Park System is how the rocks in a far off corner of Death Valley National Park manage to scoot along the ground.

Unfortunately, due to the teeth-jarring, rig-wrecking washboard road you have to negotiate for 27 miles to see the Racetrack, not many folks actually get to ponder this mystery while gazing at the rocks and their trails.

Among the possible answers: When the playa on which the rocks rest gets wet, it also gets incredibly slippery, and when the high winds howl, well, they just might push these rocks around.

Now, if you do want to visit the Racetrack and are interested in snapping some photos (this shot was taken pretty close to high noon, which, obviously, is not the optimal time), the best time for pictures is either early in the morning, which is best accomplished by heading out the day before and camping out, or late in the afternoon, which could entail a dark, jouncing ride back to civilization.

Another benefit of making this trek, though, is passing aptly named Teakettle Junction, which will be featured in another photo of the week sometime down the road.

It's the wind, in combination with a wet playa.

He is right, wind/slimy playa=rocks move
No mystery

DV Rangers,
You have seen them move?

Yo Random Walker-----if you've ever experienced the kind of winds that can often blow in that neck o' the woods you'd be a believer too.

Hey Beamis,
I know them winds well and yes I am a believer in theory :-))
And to be witness to, well that would be something else entirely!

Add comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

National Parks Traveler's Essential Park Guide