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The Mysterious Death Valley Racetrack

Death Valley's strangest sight begs one question: How do those rocks move?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    EERIE SIGHT: Sometimes we wish California could loan out, or simply donate, some of its odd and wonderful mysteries and sights to other places that seem a little lacking in mysterious attractions, or perhaps a tad run-of-the-mill. Bigfoot? The Cabazon Dinosaurs? Hollywood? Our offbeatness is so widespread and healthy in the Golden State that it is truly an embarrassment of riches. But then you have some naturally occurring oddities that are quite breathtaking, so much so that they easily top whatever man-made wonders our state's more creative types have produced. (No, Bigfoot, we're not looking at you when we say "man-made.") Chief among these weirder destinations is the Racetrack Playa of Death Valley. The word "remote" is often used for the area, which you'd expect, as it is in one of our more remote national parks, but it is even remote for Death Valley. In short, it'll be a bit of an effort to reach it, what with the gravel road and all. But reach you should, because here's what you'll see: the famous racing rocks.

    AND NOT JUST ROCKS... But big rocks. That's why the Racetrack is called a racetrack; hunks of hard earth seem to move under their own power, leaving trails in the dirt and sand as they go. No, you won't see the rocks moving during your visit, but you will see their paths. It's quite stunning and, yes, eerie, too. There are explanations, such as erosion and weather and wind and heat vs. cold. Sometimes a more supernatural source is mentioned (the Racetrack Playa is said to be a great place to UFO watch). But it is indeed beautiful, mysterious, and natural. The wildflowers will bloom soon in the national park, so if you go out to see some petals, pencil in the rocks that seem to move under their own accord.