Monday, August 31, 2009

"DANCING ROCKS (The Racetrack Playa)"

While you will never see them dance, these dolomite rocks obviously do so (as pictured). The "Racetrack" is in a most remote area of the remote Death Valley National Park (fee area), but is worth the effort for a visit. With this dry lake bed being almost perfectly flat, scientists wonder how the thousands of rocks make their trails. So they set up cameras and much other sophisticated equipment. No one has yet to catch the little boogers moving. Many theories exist, with none proven. Although this is not technically a "hike", the playa is large enough (almost 3 miles long by 1 1/2 miles wide) to put several miles on your boots. Or, alternatively, park anywhere south of "Teakettle Junction", which is 7 miles from the playa, to extend your walk.
There are no services in this remote area. Stay hydrated! Bicycles are not allowed on the playa. No one is allowed there when it's wet. You can't get there through the "duck poop" anyway, when it's wet.
Death Valley is a neater park than one might think. With many different micro-climates and elevation ranges of -282 to +11049 feet, the scenery is quite diverse.
To get to the "Racetrack" head for Ubehebe Crater, which is 8 miles SE of Scotty's Castle Visitor Center in the National Park. From the crater it is 27 miles of dirt road to the playa. Bear right at Teakettle Junction for the final 7 miles.

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