Rustic Lens

The Racetrack Playa – Death Valley National Park

The Racetrack Playa is an amazing and mysterious place. It is 2.8 miles long and 1.3 miles wide and nearly perfectly level with only 1.5 inches of difference from one side to the other. I first learned about it a couple years ago when I saw some incredible pictures of these rocks sailing across the desert on their own. The Racetrack made my bucket list right then and I got to scratch it off on my trip to Death Valley with friends from The Arcanum in March.

Scientists have been trying to figure out how the rocks move across the playa leaving trails since the early 1900’s. There have been many theory’s, but in 2014 they observed that when there is a small amount of water on the lake that freezes and thaws, the ice sheets shove the rocks along with the aid of wind.  The textures of the cracked mud and the long trails left by the rocks fascinated me. The curved path taken by this rock was pretty cool.

Being out there on the playa is serene experience. It’s a vast flat hard surface with these mysterious rocks that move seemingly on their own and it’s quiet except for the breeze and the sound of camera shutters of course. I had been away from home for several days at this point and there is no cell service out here. As a matter of fact, it took me over 3 hours to drive down the worst washboard 28 mile stretch of dirt road I have ever been on to get here. Everything in my camper was in the middle isle when I finally rolled into camp. You have to understand the importance when I say the roughest road. I go to some remote ghost towns around home in Idaho and the only road that is this rough that I can think of is the Magruder Corridor that goes between two wilderness areas. My top speed was 15 miles per hour. Even after all that, it was worth it.

Perhaps I was missing my wife Holly when I saw these two rocks that seem to be travelling through life together. I was struck with the symbolism of their tracks showing that they have come so far together, just like Holly and I.

two rocks together on the racetrack playa

Of course I saw some wildflowers across from the parking area. It was during the 2016 super bloom after all. The sand was littered with hundreds of these short little yellow flowers.

yellow desert wildflower

If you like this post please use the buttons to share it and help me get some exposure. Also, if you would like to see my other shots from this trip click here.

I use On1 Photo 10 on almost all of my photos. It has some amazing tools and presets. My favorite effects are the dynamic contrast and glow. They offer a free trial download. Click here to learn more about the NEW ON1 Photo 10


Would you drive 28 miles down a bumpy road to see this? Please comment below.

Evan Jones

I am a landscape and travel photographer who is drawn to old and rusty stuff as well as beautiful landscapes. I like to explore the backroads of the Northwest United States and anywhere else I can get to. My blog is at

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