Racetrack Playa – Death Valley California – US

Location: The area is located right above Death Valley at the northwest particularly in Death Valley National Park in Inyo County California.

Address : Death Valley National Park, Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park, CA 92328

Latitude: 36.6813°N Longitude: 117.5627°W

Racetrack Playa or The Racetrack is aptly named. It is a scenic dry lake that features sailing stones that have a linear racetrack like imprints. Badwater Basin, in Death Valley National Park, is the lowest place in North America and one of the lowest places in the world at 282 feet below sea level. The Dead Sea, between Israel and Jordan, is the lowest at 1371 feet below sea level.

Why should you visit Racetrack Playa: No it isn’t an actual man made racetrack but it sure looks like one. The Racetrack is a marvel of nature at its best and most astounding. It is 3608 feet above sea level and 2.8 miles long. One of the most puzzling factors is that it is exceptionally flat and level. In fact the northern end of the track is only about 1.5 inches higher than the southern end.

What is it shaped like? The Racetrack is often compared to Ontario Lacus; a shallow hydrocarbon lake on Titan, Saturn’s moon.

Perhaps the most amazing feature of The Racetrack is the sailing stones. This is a geological phenomenon in which slabs of syenite and dolomite leave visible tracks as they slide across the flat surface of Playa seemingly by themselves. Geologists and curious park visitors have been studying the stones in motion since the 1900s. However, no one has actually been able to witness the stones move by themselves. The only sign that they have are the trail marks that they leave behind. The existence of the “racing” or sailing stones is also why the area has been named The Racetrack.

Best Things to Do in Racetrack Playa: Of course, marveling at the sailing stones isn’t the only attraction available at Death Valley. Visit the Death Valley National Park. Areas such as the Furnace Creek, Zabriski Point and Dante’s view are just as famous as Racetrack Playa. It is located right in Scotty’s racetrack. The area also includes Death Valley Ranch which is also known as Scotty’s castle. This Spanish styled home appears like a mirage in Grapevine Canyon. Make sure that you take advantage of the Living History or Underground Mystery tour of the ranch.

Other sights worth seeing include the ghost town, bighorn sheep and Indian petro glyphs. Visit the Titus canyon and see the multicolored volcanic deposits in all their glory.  Hike to your heart’s content at the Badwater Salt Flats or a two mile round trip hike through the Golden Canyon Trail. You can also take advantage of the hiking trail at Dante’s View.  

Want to make a trip to Death Valley a road trip? Choose the Badwater Road. This is the most popular drive in the National Park. Tee off at the Devil’s golf course and try your skills at the big salt pan that is littered with jagged salt crystals.

Racetrack Playa Neighborhoods & Towns : Death Valley is located near Las Vegas Nevada. The whole trip from Las Vegas is 120 miles and should take no more than two hours. Other towns, cities and suburbs that are located within 121 miles of the place include Spring Valley, Winchester, Boulder City, Paradise, and California to name a few.

Death Valley facts:

  • The salt pan on the floor of Death Valley covers more than 200 square miles. It is 40 miles long and more than 5 miles wide.
  • Death Valley is the hottest place on Earth. In July 1913, five consecutive days of 129°F or above were recorded in Death Valley. On July 10, 1913 a reading of 134 degrees Fahrenheit was taken, the world record hottest air temperature.
  • Rainfall in Death Valley averages less than 2 inches a year. There have been some years of no recorded rainfall at all!
  •  In 1917, Death Valley recorded 52 days with temperatures over 120 degrees and 43 consecutive days over 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The original long hot summer.
  • The average evaporation rate in the bottom of Death Valley is 150 inches a year. Since the average rainfall is less than 2 inches … the two don’t quite meet.
  • Telescope Peak in Death Valley National Park was named by Dr. Samuel George in 1861. After climbing the 11,049 foot peak, Dr. George said that he could see so far that it reminded him of looking through a telescope.

Death Valley Outdoor Activities :

  • Hiking
  • Backpacking
  • Backcountry Camping
  • Backcountry Roads
  • Biking & Mountain Biking
  • Birdwatching

Death Valley interesting places to visit :

Sight

Time

Mileage – round trip from Visitor Center

Badwater

1 to 3 hours

41 mi / 66 km

Devil’s Golf Course

1 to 3 hours

41 mi / 66 km

Artist’s Drive

1 to 3 hours

41 mi / 66 km

Golden Canyon

1 to 3 hours

41 mi / 66 km

Zabriskie Point

1 to 3 hours

50 mi / 80 km

20 Mule Team Canyon

1 to 3 hours

50 mi / 80 km

Dante’s View

1 to 3 hours

50 mi / 80 km

Sand Dunes

1 to 3 hours

52 mi / 84 km

Mosaic Canyon

1 to 3 hours

52 mi / 84 km

Salt Creek

1 to 3 hours

52 mi / 84 km

Scotty’s Castle

4 or more hours

118 mi / 190 km

Ubeheb Crater

4 or more hours

118 mi / 190 km

Titus Canyon Narrows

4 or more hours

118 mi / 190 km

Wildrose Charcoal Kilns

4 or more hours

126 mi / 200 km

Death Valley interesting sights to see:

Sight

Elevation

Description

Dante’s View

5,475 ft / 1,669 m

High on a mountain ridge overlooking the sweltering salt flats of Badwater

Panamint Range

The park’s
highest mountains

The crests are white and snow covered in the winter, but provide a forested refuge from summer heat

Wildrose Campground
and Ranger Station

4,100 ft / 1,250 m

You must travel through narrow paved roads that wind through the peaks and canyons of Panamint Range

Wildrose Charcoal Kilns

6,800 ft / 2,073 m

Further up the road from the campground. These beehive-shaped, stone structures were built in the 1870’s to produce fuel and carbon for the smelters of lead-silver mines

Wildrose Peak

9,064 ft / 2,763 m

It can be climbed via a 4.2 miles / 6.5 km maintained trail, starting at the Charcoal Kilns

Thorndike Campground

7,400 ft / 2,255 m

Beyond the Kilns the dirt road becomes rougher and steeper. Among the trees along this road is the campground

Mahogany Flat Campground

8,133 ft / 2,479 m

Continue on the road from Thorndike campground until it ends. Here you will find Mahogany

Telescope Peak

11,049 ft / 3,368 m

7.0 miles / 11 km maintained trail from Mahogany Flat Campground leads to the summit, which is the highest point in Death Valley National Park

 

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Racetrack Playa

Racetrack Playa or The Racetrack is aptly named. It is a scenic dry lake that features sailing stones that have a linear racetrack like imprints. Badwater Basin, in Death Valley National Park, is the lowest place in North America and one of the lowest places in the world at 282 feet below sea level. The …

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