Some of the rocks move on their own at Death Valley
Racetrack Playa is home to one of Death Valley’s most enduring mysteries. Scattered across the bottom of this dry lakebed are hundreds of rocks that leave trails on the ground when they move. Some of the rocks, which weigh up to 700 pounds, have traveled over 1,500 feet.
For years, the source of their movement has gone unsolved, but in 2014 researchers discovered a rare combination of events that move the rocks. When the playa floods and cold winter nights freeze the water into a thin layer of ice that then breaks into large floating panels as night turns into day, winds drive the rocks forward across the slippery surface, which leaves trails in the soft mud below. Although scientists have discovered the secret of the moving rocks, the fascination remains the same.