Death Valley is the lowest, hottest and driest location in all of North America. On a recent photo shoot, we ventured out to the Racetrack Playa to see for ourselves the geological phenomena of the “moving rocks”. No, they didn’t move while we were there. These stones can sit for a decade or more without moving. It takes a set of perfect conditions for these rocks to leave the trail across the dry lake bed.
First, the playa fills with water, which must be deep enough to form floating ice during cold winter nights but shallow enough to expose the stones. At that point, the sun then must come out and begin to melt the layer of ice and then there must be a light wind to move the rocks across the surface. All of these conditions must occur for the rocks to move across the racetrack.
There are only two locations on the earth that these rocks leave trails, on a playa in Nevada and here at the Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park.