One of the popular places to shoot in Death Valley is the Racetrack Playa (mostly just called The Racetrack). It’s got these large “sailing” stones on it that leave tracks along the playa. When you find the right stone, with a nicely-shaped track behind it, it makes for a great photo.

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Well, it’s always been a bit of a mystery as to how those tracks were formed. There’s been speculation but since nobody ever sees it happen, it’s always a bit of guessing. But lately, over the last couple of weeks there’s been a lot of posts talking about the mystery being solved. You have to watch the video below to see the whole story. But it’s interesting because ice has always been thought to be behind the moving stones. Interestingly enough, it actually happens in a slightly different way then people ever really thought.

What’s funny is that before I ever visited, I thought that maybe people could just have pushed the rocks along the playa to make the tracks. But after you visit, you realize that the rocks are much larger then they look in photos. And the playa is hard, so you really would never be able to make the tracks yourself unless it was wet.

My Rock is Famous!

As a side note, I got a kick out of one post I saw last week. If you look at the post and scroll down about 2/3 of the way, you’ll see a man standing with his tripod, looking at a rock.


As I was reading the post I thought the rock looked familiar (wow, I really am a dork!). So I went through my Death Valley photos from when I was there a couple of years back (click here to see the post and trip recap with photos), and I found that I photographed the same rock. Now, I’m sure thousands of others out there have photographed this very rock as well, but I thought it was kinda cool 🙂

Here’s the photo (click to see it larger)

Death Valley - Racetrack Playa

Related Posts:
– My Death Valley Photography Recap Post
– When a Death Valley Landscape Shoot Goes Bad (must read!)


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