Racetrack Valley

Racetrack Valley is a located in Death Valley National Park and features the world renowned moving stones of Racetrack Playa.

The Racetrack Playa of Death Valley.
The Racetrack Playa of Death Valley.

Racetrack Valley is a remote and unique area located in the northwestern part of Death Valley National Park in California. It is known for its mysterious and fascinating moving rocks that leave tracks on the dry lakebed. In this report, we will explore the geography, history, and natural wonders of Racetrack Valley.


Racetrack Valley is a long, flat valley that stretches for approximately three miles. It is surrounded by high mountains and is situated at an elevation of approximately 3,600 feet above sea level. The valley is located in a remote area, accessible only by a rough, unpaved road that requires a high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle. The valley floor is a dry lakebed composed of silt and clay, which is why the area is also known as the Racetrack Playa.


The moving rocks of Racetrack Valley have puzzled scientists and visitors for decades. The rocks, which can weigh hundreds of pounds, leave long tracks on the playa, sometimes moving over long distances. The first scientific study of the moving rocks was conducted in the 1940s by geologist George M. Stanley. He concluded that the rocks move due to a combination of wind and ice, which causes them to slide across the slick surface of the playa. However, the exact mechanism of how the rocks move is still not fully understood, and the mystery continues to fascinate visitors to this day.

Natural Wonders

Aside from the moving rocks, Racetrack Valley offers other natural wonders. The valley is surrounded by high mountains, including the Cottonwood Mountains to the west and the Last Chance Range to the east. There are also several other interesting geological features in the area, including the Ubehebe Crater, a massive volcanic crater that is approximately half a mile wide and 800 feet deep. In addition, there are several other dry lakebeds in the area, including Teakettle Junction and the Lippincott Lead Mine Road.


On September 19th, 1969 a Michigan front end loading is found burning along the road near the playa. Apparently, Manson order the machine burned. Park Rangers were deployed to the Racetrack. The rangers followed a set of tire tracked which belonged to a Toyota Land Cruiser which was stolen by Manson. The follow up investigate lead to the arrest of Charles Manson at Barker Ranch on October 12th, 1969.

Racetrack Valley is a unique and fascinating area that offers visitors the chance to see a natural wonder that has puzzled scientists for decades. The moving rocks are not the only thing to see in the area, as Racetrack Valley is surrounded by beautiful mountains and other geological features. The remote location and challenging road to get there make it a special and rewarding experience for those who make the effort to visit.

Racetrack Valley Trail Map

Points of Interest

The cabin found at the Lost Burrow Mine is in good shape.

Lost Burro Mine

Founded in 1907 when Bert Shively picked up a rock to throw at some stray burros and discovered gold, the Lost burro Mine is a…
The Racing stones.

Racetrack Valley

TeaKettle Junction lets you know you are starting to get close to the Racetrack. Racetrack valley is a rough graded road which departs the Ubehebe…
Teakettle Junction at the intersection of Hunter Mountain Road and Race Track Valley Road, Death Valley National Park, California - Photo by James L Rathbun

Teakettle Junction

Located at the intersection of Hunter Mountain Road and Race Track Valley Road, Teakettle Junction is a unique point of interest in Death Valley National…
Ubehebe Mine with tramway visible at the top of the hill, Death Valley, CA

Ubehebe Lead Mine

The Ubehebe Lead Mine is located just west of the Racetrack Playa Road off of the Bonnie Claire Road.  Discovered in 1906, the mine is…