Divergent Travelers

How to Visit Racetrack Playa & See the Sliding Rocks in Death Valley NP

Death Valley National Park is truly a hypnotic and wonderfully bizarre place filled with mysteries. From surreal undulating landscapes to a 400-foot-deep crater, this national park features an endless array of otherworldly sights. 

But, there’s nothing more mysterious than the fascinating Racetrack Playa.

Set in a secluded valley between the Last Chance Ranges and Cottonwood, the Racetrack is an unusual place of mystery and dramatic beauty. 

It is here that you’ll find massive rocks that amazingly glide over this muddy and dry lakebed, leaving behind imprinted trails. 

Unfortunately, getting to this spot isn’t as easy as buying groceries at the local market. Getting to this extraordinary place requires advance planning, especially if it’s your first time visiting Death Valley National Park. 

And, that’s why we’ve created this Racetrack Playa travel guide. 

Before heading off to Reacetrack Playa every visitor should stop in and talk to a National Park ranger at the main visitor center. They will be able to tell you current conditions, road closures and other up to date insider information that cannot be found online.

Your Guide to Visiting Racetrack Playa

Table of Contents

What is the Racetrack Playa?

David Stock Jr of Divergent Travelers Adventure Travel Blog standing a pointing at a racetrack rock at Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park.

The Racetrack Playa is a mystical, dry and large lakebed set in the heart of Death Valley National Park. At two miles wide and three miles long, this lakebed is quite large.

Furthermore, it’s incredibly flat, with its north end just an inch and a half higher than its southern counterpart. 

Its dry surface is thoroughly coated with dried hexagon-shaped mud, which gives the Racetrack its unique signature appearance. When the surface is dry, it’s quite hard. In fact, there won’t be any footprint left behind when walking on it. 

Strangely, the playa gets wet in short spans, after receiving rainfall during the winter and summer months. And, when the Racetrack’s surface is wet, walking on it creates muddy and unsightly footprints that will take a few years to rub out. 

We, however, don’t recommend walking on it when it’s wet since it will ruin the playa’s landscapes. 

How do the playa’s rocks move?

Moving rocks at Racetrack Playa in Death Valley photographed by Lina Stock of Divergent Travelers Adventure Travel Blog.

Throughout the years, there have been endless theories on what causes these gigantic rocks to glide across the lakebed’s dry surface. Animals, ice, bored humans, hurricane-Esque winds, and even aliens were listed as possible causes. 

In 2014, the mystery was finally solved when a group of researchers meticulously monitored the rocks through state-of-the-art equipment. According to their research, the playa turns into a shallow lake when it’s raining in Death Valley. 

In winter, at night, the lakebed’s water freezes, which in turn traps these large rocks. The following day, when the surface is warming up, the lakebed’s ice slowly breaks. A consistent air breeze, then, pushes the rocks across this slippery and wet surface. 

In just one day, these rocks move across the surface for hundreds of feet leaving tracks behind them.

Is the Racetrack Playa in Death Valley NP worth a visit?

Lina Stock of Divergent Travelers Adventure Travel blog looking at a rock track mark in Racetrack Playa.

The Racetrack Playa is definitely worth a visit. Not only will it impress you with its out-of-this-world landscapes and formations, but getting there is also an adventure in itself. 

Sure, it’s not the coziest experience, but it’s a fun adventure that will give you a ton of fun and giggles. Please don’t do it if you don’t have a 4×4 though, no matter what you have read online, any blog post that states you don’t need a 4×4 is wrong.

Love adventures like this? Check out our Ultimate US National Parks Bucket List (All 63 Parks By State) .

How to get to the Racetrack Playa in Death Valley NP 

Lina Stock of Divergent Travelers Adventure Travel Blog on the dirt track road to Racetrack Playa with a jeep rented through Farabee Jeep Rentals in Death Valley National Park.

Getting to the Racetrack Playa can be a challenge. Perched in a secluded area of the park, this playa is an 83-mile drive from the Furnace Valley Visitor Center. And, 27 miles of the drive are on unpaved and rough roads. 

On average, it takes 3 hours and 30 minutes to reach the playa via Furnace Creek. 

The road to the playa – Racetrack Valley Road – is situated near Ubehebe Crater’s parking lot. Of course, you may include a quick stop to this crater in your Racetrack Playa itinerary. 

After a short stop at Ubehebe Crater, you’ll still have to drive for around 27 miles to reach the playa. 

Visiting Responsibly – This is so important!

Tire marks in the salt pan at Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park.

We all visit these natural wonders because they are natural but each visit threatens what we all come to see. Some more than others.

Every visitor to Racetrack Playa should practice Leave No Trace .

It’s simple to do and you should do it naturally as an outdoor lover. Beyond that, we will highlight a few things that you should not do when visiting Racetrack Playa. Each one of these actions threatens this natural wonder and we saw them firsthand when we visited.

Never move anything – People come from all around the world to see this natural occurrence that can only be seen here and unfortunately, there are people who move the rocks. They do it to prevent others from getting the same photo. That’s insane and no one ever should move or mess with the stones, it’s that simple.

Don’t drive on anything but the actual road – This is another one that makes me itch my head. Why on earth would drive out on the salt pan to whip donuts? Do not drive on the salt pans. Please keep to the roads and park only in designated parking lots.

Don’t carve your name into the salt pan – You may have a romantic notion that you’re going to carve your name into the salt pan next to the moving rocks in Racetrack Playa but did you know it’s actually against the law to do so? Leaving graffiti on national park sites is subject to a $15,000 fine. Plus it’s insanely rude and shallow. Don’t do it.

Pack out what you pack in – take any trash you might have with you in the vehicle and dispose of it back at the visitor center or your hotel. DO NOT leave it on the ground. This goes for toilet paper too, ladies.

Don’t walk on the salt pan if it is wet – This will leave footprints in it and those footprints take years to disappear and for the salt pan to return back to its natural state. So if an area looks wet, please don’t walk on it.

These are just a few things that we saw that needed to be highlighted. For more information, we suggest checking out the main page for Death Valley National Park .

Responsible travel starts with you , please lead by example and educate those who may not know. After all, we all want to preserve natural wonders like this for future generations to come.

Racetrack Valley Road driving tips

Lina Stock of Divergent Travelers Adventure Travel Blog on the dirt track road to Racetrack Playa with a red jeep rented through Farabee Jeep Rentals in Death Valley National Park.

With sharp rocks and gravel, driving this road can be a tough drive for visitors. In fact, these rocks have caused a lot of flat tires in recent years. 

So, expect a bumpy and slow drive that may take around 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes. 

Here are a couple of tips when driving on this road :

  • Drive a high-clearance, 4×4 vehicle. While SUVs with no 4×4 do just fine, the National Park Service recommends using jeeps and pick-up trucks. (Sorry your rental car will not make it out there!) 
  • Bring a spare tire. There’s no mobile phone coverage in these areas, meaning it will take a long while for assistance to arrive if you have a flat tire. (Our jeep rental gave us a satellite phone because issues happen daily)
  • Only drive on the established roads.
  • Watch out for other vehicles.
  • You should start will a full tank of gas.  

What to do if you don’t have a 4×4 vehicle?

The Mysterious Sailing Stones of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park.

Even if you don’t have a 4×4 vehicle, you’ll still have the opportunity to see and explore this surreal mystery in Death Valley National Park.

Here are a couple of options for those who don’t have a 4×4 vehicle. 

Join a tour 

There are tour operators, like Farabee Jeep Rentals , that offer day tours to the playa for a minimum of two guests. So, if you’re not confident with your driving skills, you might want to consider this alternative. 

Jeep rentals 

Farabee Jeep Rentals has a collection of four and two-door jeeps for rent. Truthfully, it’s not a cheap option, and prepare to pay $250 per vehicle per day. But, you can split the cost, and reduce the expense by traveling with a larger group. 

We rented one of their jeeps for this adventure and we were glad we did, our rental car would have taken a beating!

We saw plenty of cars that made it 15 minutes down the dirt road, stuck with flat tires or having a domestic dispute because they had to turn around.

The jeep rental also comes with a few extras, including: 

  • A Spot device to report issues in real-time 
  • Cooler with water and ice 
  • Spare tire and equipment 

To rent a jeep from this operator, you must: 

  • Have an insurance policy 
  • Own a valid driver’s license 
  • Be at least 25 years old 

Racetrack Playa travel tips 

Sliding Rock, Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park

Pumped up to visit? Slow down, folks! Before you start packing your bags, you might want to check out these tips and suggestions. 

  • Start your adventure early, and be the first one to arrive at the Racetrack Playa for the day. With no midday crowds, you can have this outstanding moonlike lakebed all to yourself. 
  • Pack some food and water before leaving for the Racetrack Playa. You’ll be in the middle of nowhere, so don’t expect any convenience stores and restaurants on your way to the playa. 
  • Bring sun protection. With no shade and dry conditions, the sun will be frowning and beating down on you in this playa. In summer, temperatures often soar more than 100°F. 

Highlights to See at Racetrack Playa

Lina Stock of Divergent Travelers Adventure Travel blog walking next to a racetrack in Racetrack Playa.

There’s more to this playa than its uncanny, moonlike landscapes. As you visit you’ll have access to a few noteworthy attractions. 

The Grandstand

The Grandstand a uniquelyshaped rock formation in middle of Racetrack Playa salt pan in Death Valley National Park.

The Grandstand Parking Area is the first point you’ll reach after following the dirt road. Once there, you may admire or take a photo of the Grandstand, which is a uniquely-shaped rock formation. 

Additionally, this area is the starting point to the tiring and demanding trail that leads to the summit of Ubehebe Peak. 

If the salt pan is dry when you visit, we recommend walking out to the towering rock formations for a closer look. Just be sure to bring water with you.

The Sliding Rocks 

The strange moving rocks of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park.

The Sliding Rocks are the biggest and most popular sights of the Racetrack Playa. Drenched in mystery, these massive rocks fell from the towering surrounding peaks onto the playa’s ground. 

Despite the recent findings and development, some people still find these rocks mysterious. Since most of these things weigh over 650 pounds, there have been several theories, like the supernatural ones, created to explain this strange phenomenon. 

Keep in mind that you’ll likely have to walk over a mile to the far end of the salt pan to see them. Be prepared for this. Wear UPF clothing, a hat, and take plenty of water with you.

Teakettle Junction

Teakettle Junction in Death Valley National Park

You’ll find this peculiar junction before reaching your destination. On the junction’s sign, you’ll see a ton of teapots with some written messages left by tourists who visited this place. 

Like the Racetrack Playa, the origin of this practice is also a mystery. But, some people assume that it was done initially to indicate the availability of water in this uninhabited area.  

Ubehebe Crater

Lina Stock of Divergent Travelers Adventure Travel Blog looking out over the Ubehebe Crater in Death Valley National Park.

The Ubehebe Crater is something that we suggest seeing on your way back from Racetrack Playa. It’s located at the start of the dirt road that heads to Racetrack Playa, it’s the last paved turnaround and the road is a oneway.

There’s a great lookout and also an easy hike that you can do if you have time. It can also be very windy here, so use caution around the exposed crater edges.

More on Death Valley National Park 

Lina Stock of Divergent Travelers Adventure Travel Blog look out at the Darwin Falls waterfall in Death Valley National Park.

Other Sites You Shouldn’t Miss

Death Valley National Park has a lot more to offer than the surreal and mystical Racetrack Playa. If you’re planning a multi-day trip to this national park, make sure to check out these superb attractions and diversions: 

  • Sand Dunes located near Stovepipe Wells
  • Badwater Basin
  • Zabriskie Point
  • Dante’s View
  • Artist’s Drive and Artist’s Palette
  • Devil’s Golf Course and Artist’s Drive
  • Harmony Borax Works
  • Twenty Mule Team Canyon
  • Keane Wonder Mine
  • Father Crowley Point
  • Ubehebe Crater
  • Rhyolite Ghost Town
  • Natural Bridge
  • Spring Wildflowers
  • Devil’s Cornfield
  • Darwin Falls
  • Wildrose Charcoal Kilns

About Death Valley National Park 

Lina Stock standing next to the Death Valley National Park sing from the Nevada side.

Location – Death Valley National Park rests in eastern California. The closest airports are Las Vegas, Nevada (110 miles) and Los Angeles, California (220 miles). 

Admission fee – You need to pay $30 for each vehicle (valid for 7 days), to enter the park. But, if you own an America the Beautiful pass, you may visit the park for free.

Services available 

Stovepipe Wells General Store in Death Valley National Park.

Death Valley is a bit limited when it comes to facilities and services. Still, it offers services that will make your park visit more convenient: 

  • Two gas stations: Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek 
  • Food is also available at Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek 
  • The Stovepipe Wells Ranger Station and Furnace Creek Visitor Center both have water refill stations and you should top off before starting your adventure!

Where to stay in Death Valley National Park 

Stovepipe Wells Inn located with in Death Valley National Park

Camping 

Death Valley National Park is home to nine campgrounds. And, four of these campgrounds are available for free, while the rest cost around $14 a night. All campgrounds within the park are available on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Hotels 

America's Adventure Couple Lina and David Stock of Divergent Travelers Adventure Travel Blog standing at the hottest place in the USA - Death Valley National Park.

When visiting the park during the hotter months, you might want to skip the campgrounds, and head to any of these hotels. 

  • Panamint Springs Resort
  • Stovepipe Wells Village Hotel (We stayed here for 3 nights and it was amazing!)
  • Ranch at Death Valley
  • Inn at Death Valley  

You might also like:

  • Ultimate Weekend in Las Vegas Itinerary (For First Time Visitors!)
  • 12 Awesome Things to do in Las Vegas for Couples
  • 15 Best Day Trips from Las Vegas
  • Las Vegas to Grand Canyon: The Best Tour Options
  • Ultimate Road Trip Guide to Nevada’s Great Basin Highway
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  • 21 Reasons to Take a Tour in the USA with Globus Tours
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Travel planning resources, about david stock.

I have always been an outdoorsman so becoming an adventure traveler was just the next natural step. I love nature, I love to get off the beaten path and I like to explore. I enjoy scuba diving and cars. And yes, Lina and I have a naked dog.

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MPA Project Travels

Family travel blog, visiting racetrack playa in death valley: everything you need to know.

It was Day 3 of our Death Valley National Park road trip. We dedicated the entire day to visiting Racetrack Playa. After a fun pitstop at the fun and quirky Teakettle Junction , we continued the drive down the long and winding Racetrack Valley road to the famous site. After a fun day exploring this remote area, Buddy and I are sharing Everything You Need to Know About Visiting Racetrack Playa in Death Valley.

We visited Racetrack Playa during a Spring Break trip to Death Valley. As big national park fans, we were excited for this family adventure. After stopping at Teakettle Junction , we explored Racetrack Playa before ending the day with a hike around Ubehebe Crater .

As an Amazon Associate and members of other affiliate programs, we may earn a commission on qualifying purchases made through these links. All opinions expressed are our own. And all photos are owned by MPA Project Travels . Visit our privacy policy for more information.

Table of Contents

What is Racetrack Playa?

Racetrack Playa is a dry lakebed in a remote part of Death Valley National Park known for its famous and mysterious sailing stones. Sliding stones are large rocks that move along the playa on their own leaving behind tracks that mark the rock movement.

Is it worth visiting Racetrack Playa?

That is a great question!

It takes between six to eight hours to explore Racetrack Playa. And a lot of that time is spent on the road driving to the site. Because it takes so long to explore this remote area, park visitors to Death Valley National Park with limited time might wonder if this site is worth exploring.

There are some things to consider.

If you like road trips and spending hours on a dirt road in a four-wheel drive sound like a fun adventure, then Racetrack Playa is great for you! Likewise, if you like to experience remote areas that are a bit more isolated and less frequented by fellow tourists, then yes Racetrack Playa is great for you too!

However, if you are traveling with littles who aren’t keen on a day long road trip. Or if you are someone who gets carsick easily, you might want to skip a daylong drive on a bumpy windy road. And if you are pressed for time during your travels to Death Valley National Park, you may want to skip this excursion. Not to worry though, you will see the unique beauty of Death Valley when you explore some of the more easily accessible iconic Death Valley sites.

And in case you were wondering if we think if it is work visiting Racetrack Playa in Death Valley, yes absolutely! Visiting this iconic site was the highlight of our trip!

In our opinion, Racetrack Playa, or the Racetrack, is a must see in Death Valley!

10 tips for Visiting Racetrack Playa in Death Valley

1. you need four-wheel drive.

The only way to get to Death Valley’s Racetrack Playa is with a four-wheel drive vehicle. This is because road to the dry lakebed is on a graded washboard narrow dirt road lined with loose sharp rocks. And these sharp rocks can easily cause flat tires if you are not careful. If you are traveling to Death Valley in your own four-wheel drive vehicle, which many travelers did when we visited, then you are good to travel on all the of the National Park’s dirt roads!

However, if the vehicle that you drove into Death Valley is not a four-wheel drive, you will need to rent a Jeep to visit Racetrack Playa. There is one Jeep rental in Death Valley National Park, Farabee’s Rentals & Tours located in Furnace Creek. We rented a Jeep from Farabee’s to get to Racetrack Playa and had a great experience! And they provide everything you need in case you do happen to hit a sharp rock and get a flat tire.

2. Start early

Visiting Racetrack Playa is a day long trip. From both Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells, it is a 1-hour drive on Highway 190 and Scotty’s Castle Road to Racetrack Road near Ubehebe Crater. From there, driving the 28-mile Racetrack Road to Racetrack Playa at an average of 25 miles per hour takes approximately another 2 hours. So, getting to the Playa takes and average of 3 hours.

If you want time to explore Racetrack Playa and nearby sites such as Teakettle Junction , Ubehebe Crater , or the Eureka Dunes, you will want to start early. Also, beginning your Death Valley adventures early is a great way to beat the heat!

If you are visiting with your own four wheel drive, you can begin as early as you like! However, if you are renting a Jeep, you are beholden to the pickup time of your rental, which is between 8am-10am. If renting a Jeep, arrive for pick up as early as you can! Pick up times can be busy. To avoid lines, get there early.

When we visited Death Valley, we stayed in Stovepipe Wells , a 30-minute drive northwest of Furnace Creek. Although we planned to pick up the Jeep as soon as Farabee’s opened, we opted to spend some time that morning watching the sunrise and the full moon set. By the time we arrived at to pick up our Jeep from Farabee’s at 8:30am, there was a line!

Beat the line, start your day early! Also, if you stay in Stovepipe Wells like we did, and need to rent a Jeep to get to the Playa, you will be driving an extra hour that day to pick up and drop off your rental.

3. Stop at Teakettle Junction

Teakettle Junction is a fun and quirky pit stop on the way to Racetrack Playa. After driving 20 miles down the Racetrack Road from Ubehebe Crater, you will come across Teakettle Junction, large brown mileage signpost covered in Teakettles.

Teakettle Junction is a fun place to stop, stretch your legs, take some photos, and hang a teakettle!  Also, depending on your provider, your phone might work at Teakettle Junction. This is notable since there is little to no cell phone service in Death Valley.

Buddy and I shared Everything You Need to Know for a Fun Time at Death Valley’s Teakettle Junction including some things we wish we knew before we visited!

4. Go to the second stop first

At Racetrack Playa, there are two places to stop and park, the Grandstand parking area and the Wood Fence parking lot. When you arrive, go to the second stop first. Here’s why!

Located 2 miles from the Grandstand, the second stop is where you will find the moving stones! From the Wood Fence parking area, it is about a 0.5 mile walk to the southeast to see the stones.

Another reason to visit this area first is that it is far less crowded. This means that there is more parking available and more space to get out and explore. Also, there is less human destruction (more on that later) at the second stop. This makes for an overall better experience of this unique and beautiful area.

If you visit the second stop first, you can visit the first stop, the Grandstand, on your way out. The Grandstand is an island outcrop of a rock formation in the middle of Racetrack Playa. It is a short 0.25 mile walk from the parking area to the Grandstand.

During our time at the Playa, we saw many park visitors only stop at the first stop, the Grandstand, before turning around and driving away. We opted to go to the second stop first, thinking that we could stop at the Grandstand on the drive back. Best decision!

We spent most of our time on the Racetrack in the Southeastern part of the Playa. Buddy walked far out on the dry lake following the paths of the moving stones. Inspired by the beauty and solitude of the landscape, we created multiple Movement Postcards and spent hours on the Racetrack. We then visited the Grandstand, walking around the island, before eating lunch and driving to hike Ubehebe Crater .

5. Be kind and gentle to the area

Racetrack Playa is very fragile. Unfortunately, there is a lot of human destruction and damage in the area, especially near the Grandstand. There are tire marks, a lot of dried muddy footprints, and rocks that were clearly moved by humans.

When visiting, follow the guidelines shared by the National Park Service. be kind and gentle to the area so that future generations may enjoy this beautiful site. Some tips include do not drive off road, do not move rocks, and do not walk on the surface of the playa when it is wet.

Footprints and tire marks left on the wet Racetrack stay for years! After visiting the south side of Racetrack Playa first, we were saddened to see the multiple footprints and tire marks at the Grandstand. It definitely took away from the experience.

6. Pack your lunch

Since visiting Racetrack Playa is an all-day affair, you will want to pack your lunch and some snacks to eat at the Racetrack. If you rent a Jeep from Farabee’s they provide a cooler with ice and water. Bringing additional water, food, and snacks is recommended. So is a large refillable water bottle  so you can stay hydrated on your journey.

During our trip to Death Valley National Park, we kept four 2.5-gallon containers of water in the back of the car, or in this case, rented Jeep. We refilled our water bottles every time we returned to the car.

For our day trip to Racetrack Playa, I brought supplies to make some quick and easy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that we ate with some apples and granola bars at the Grandstand’s dirt parking lot. I also brought these eco collapsible meal kits which worked as our plates and these reusable sandwich bags for snacks. Racetrack Playa’s Grandstand parking lot was not the only dirt parking lot where we had lunch during our Death Valley trip and the collapsible meal kits came in handy!

7. Plan for limited facilities

Regarding restrooms at Racetrack Playa, the nearest facility is a porta potty located at the Homestake Dry Camp. The restrooms are easy to find. Drive south on Racetrack Road until it ends at the campsite. When we visited the porta potty was on the west side of the road.

Aside from this outhouse, the next facilities with flush toilets are at Grapevine Station, which is approximately 32 miles away.  That. Is It. If you think you may need to use the facilities during your trip to Racetrack Playa, we recommend planning accordingly.

As a dry camp, Homestake does not have running water. Be prepared with hand sanitizer or travel pocket soap. I traveled with these body wash leaves in my day pack. Buddy used them to wash his hands after visiting the outhouse. I would also bring extra tissue or toilet paper just in case.

8. Bring an offline map

Apart from a lucky few who might get some service at Teakettle Junction, it is highly unlikely that your cell phone will work in Death Valley, including at Racetrack Playa. This means that Google Maps are not an option for navigation to the site. For that reason, we recommend bringing a paper map, or downloading offline maps before you arrive in Death Valley.

The Death Valley Visitor Guide published by the National Park Service has a map in the guide that will easily take you to Racetrack Playa. This map is a great option as they are free at the Visitor’s Center and other Information Station throughout the park.

When rented the Jeep from Farabee’s they provided us with the Visitor Guide map with our route highlighted for us in yellow. We navigated our way to and from Racetrack Playa with a paper map seamlessly and without a hitch.

9. What to bring

Like so many other places in Death Valley, there is no shade at Racetrack Playa. Because of the lack of shade, you will want to protect yourself from the sun with  sunscreen , a  hat , or a light long sleeve coverup. Light colors are recommended. Even during the cooler winter months, the sun is intense in Death Valley and sun protection is a must. Also, it is the desert so sturdy shoes is a must. I wore my  Merrell Women’s Siren Edge Hiker  Shoes and they held up nicely. I also have a pair of  Merrell Women’s Siren Spork Hiking Shoe , which I equally love.

And it is worth saying again, bring lots of water and refillable water bottles. Also, a packed lunch and snacks!

10. When to visit

The best time to visit Death Valley is during the fall, winter, or spring months, before the heat kicks in. Visiting Death Valley during cooler months means that it is less likely that you will experience the high and sometimes deadly heat.

If you must visit during the summer months, please follow the precautions that you will find posted throughout the national park. Visit sites like Racetrack Playa in the very early morning and carry plenty of water.

We visited Death Valley and Dante’s View during Buddy’s Spring Break in mid-March. The temperatures were in the mid-80s and perfect for our visit.

Buddy’s Tips

  • Don’t touch the sailing stones. If you do, you could put them off course and damage them. This ruin the sailing stone experience for everyone else.
  • It’s better if you walk farther out onto Racetrack Playa. You will be more isolated from other tourists. And you will have more area to yourself to explore.
  • You won’t actually see the moving rocks move, but you will see the tracks, which is cool.
  • Stay off Racetrack Playa when it is wet and do not drive your car on it. Driving your car on it will severely damage it. And walking while it is wet can also seriously damage it as well.

Overall, Racetrack Playa was the highlight of our trip to Death Valley. And that is saying a lot because there are so many incredible and awesome things to see in this National Park .

A note for any Star Wars fans out there

I am a huge Star Wars fan and I particularly loved visiting Racetrack Playa because it felt like I was on Tatooine. The landscape is otherworldly, and I felt as if Luke Skywalker was going to appear on his land cruiser with C3PO, R2D2, and Obi-Wan Kenobi at any time.

If you are a Star Wars fan, chances are you will love a visit to Racetrack Playa too!

Racetrack Playa is absolutely beautiful and definitely worth the visit!

Have you visited Racetrack Playa in Death Valley? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below.

Do you have questions about family travel or traveling with teens? Feel free to reach out ! We are happy to chat and share our experiences! We look forward to connecting with you.

Visiting Death Valley?

Stay in Stovepipe Wells ! This is where we stayed during our trip to Death Valley and it was the best fit for our outdoor hiking adventures!

Pin this post for later!

Planning a trip to Death Valley? Check out our series about the national park!

  • Five Things To See in Death Valley in One Day
  • Traveling to Dante’s View in Death Valley? Here’s Everything You Need To Know!
  • Everything You Need to Know About Visiting Racetrack Playa in Death Valley
  • An Easy Guide to Hiking Mosaic Canyon in Death Valley
  • 5 Easy Tips for Badlands Loop Hike in Death Valley
  • 6 Tips for Hiking the Unique Ubehebe Crater in Death Valley
  • Everything You Need To Know for a Fun Time at Death Valley’s Teakettle Junction

Hello! We are Yvonne & Buddy and we create family travel blogs based on firsthand knowledge and experiences of a destination. Our goal is to inspire teens, parents, and families to share time together engaging in new experiences whether the destination is near or far from home. Come join us on our travels!

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15 thoughts on “ Visiting Racetrack Playa in Death Valley: Everything You Need to Know ”

We didn’t make it to the Racetrack Playa last time we visited Death Valley – weren’t driving our own four-wheel vehicle, and weren’t planning on spending a lot of time in the park; However, after reading this, I think next time we’ll plan for it. Thank you for sharing your experience and tips.

I have heard about these sailing stones but never knew where they were. Thanks for sharing about them. Tea Kettle junction is quite a laugh.

That must be quite an adventurous. Loved the post.

Sounds like a great part of Death Valley to visit. I love that you felt like you were on Tatooine

Wow! This looks a fascinating place to visit but also clearly one you need to be prepared for. Thanks for all the tips. As a fellow Star Wars fan, a visit here is now definitely on my list for when I eventually get to Death Valley!

I hope you enjoy it!!

I remember watching a documentary about those sailing stones and how it took scientists such a long time to work out how they moved! It is SUCH a cool landscape! It is a bit sad to hear that some fold drive out all that way to destroy it…

I know, it was sad to see.

Such stunning landscapes! I had never heard of Racetrack Playa before. The Teakettle Junction seems so quirky and interesting! Thanks for this lovely guide 🙂

You are very welcome!

This is right up my ally. The atv would be a blast but it would ne cool see how the stones move.

Good to know that you can rent a jeep if you don’t have an off roading vehicle. It sounds like a really cool location to explore!

Teakettle Junction looks so cute! I’d never heard of Racetrack Playa and Death Valley is still on my bucket list, so thanks for opening my eyes to something new! Xx Sara

I need to check out those sailing stones at Racetrack Playa in Death Valley…so fascinating! We did a day trip from Vegas so only hit a few of the highlights – need to return.

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death valley racetrack tours

The Racetrack

IMPORTANT: The surface of the playa is very fragile and driving on it or anywhere off established roads is prohibited. Please do not move or remove any of the rocks. This prevents others from enjoying this unique area.

Racetrack Road

death valley racetrack tours

Distance: …. 28 miles Time: ……… 1/2 day or more The road to Racetrack Valley begins near Ubehebe Crater. Normally it is recommended for high- clearance vehicles as it can be rough and washboard. Off-road driving is prohibited as the desert is very fragile and vehicle tracks can remain for years. Watch for Joshua trees along the way. Often confused with cactus, Joshua trees actually are a type of yucca that can grow up to 30 feet tall. Twenty miles in you will reach Teakettle Junction. Follow the road straight ahead to the Racetrack Playa. The road to the left leads into Hidden Valley and connects with the Hunter Mountain road which usually requires 4- wheel-drive to travel. Two miles further the short spur road to the right leads to the Ubehebe Lead Mine. It operated during the late 1800s and again during World War I.

Distance ….. 1/4 mile walk Time: ……… 1/2 hour or more

After traveling 26 miles you reach the north end of the Racetrack and the Grandstand parking area. A short walk out to the Grandstand can be rewarding. This large island outcrop of quartz monzonite offers spectacular views of the Racetrack. Those interested in a longer hike should try the old miner’s trail to Ubehebe Peak. This strenuous 6-mile round trip hike involves an elevation gain of 1800 feet. Look for this trail west of the Grandstand parking lot. The Racetrack is a playa (dry lakebed) about 3 miles long and 2 miles wide. At least 10,000 years ago this region underwent climatic changes resulting in cycles of hot, cold and wet periods. As the climate changed, the lake evaporated and left behind beige colored mud, at least 1,000 feet thick.

Moving Rocks

death valley racetrack tours

Distance: …..1/2 mile walk Time: ………one hour or more To see the moving rocks, drive two miles south of the Grandstand parking area. Walk at least a half-mile toward the southeast corner of the playa for the best views of rocks and their tracks on the playa. Erosional forces cause rocks from the surrounding mountains to tumble to the surface of the Racetrack. Once on the floor of the playa, the rocks move across the level surface leaving trails as records of their movements. Some of the moving rocks are large and have traveled as far as 1,500 feet. Throughout the years, many theories have been suggested to explain the mystery of these rock movements. A research project has suggested that a rare combination of rain and wind conditions enable the rocks to move. A rain of about 1/2 inch, will wet the surface of the playa, providing a firm but extremely slippery surface. Strong winds of 50 mph or more, may skid the large boulders along with the slick mud.

Death Valley Racetrack

Sliding rocks.

Text & Photos by Len Wilcox

death valley racetrack tours

The Racetrack is a unique attraction of Death Valley National Park that not many park visitors get to see. It's a dry lakebed in a very remote and beautiful area. On the north end of the lakebed is a rock formation known as the grandstands. Rocks from the grandstands and other nearby formations break off and fall onto the lake. There, they perform feats that make this remote playa world-famous.

death valley racetrack tours

They move! But after all these years, a hundred or more since this phenomenon was brought to the attention of naturalists studying Death Valley, no one has ever seen them move. These rocks aren't boulders; most are perhaps a foot or so tall, but can still weigh a lot and are not easy to lift.

death valley racetrack tours

The evidence that they move is the trails they leave behind them as they scoot around the lake. You'll find a rock sitting innocently anywhere on the playa -- from next to the grandstand to the far southern edge -- and behind it will be a trail, from the rock sliding across the fine clay surface of the lakebed.

When this phenomenon was discovered around 1900, observers speculated that magnetic forces were the cause. Now, however, scientists believe they have solved the mystery of this movement. It occurs, they believe, when there's been enough rain to wet down the lakebed, then a strong wind -- as much as 70 miles per hour in this area -- blows the rocks around. The surface of the lake is a fine clay that becomes extremely slick when wet. But since no one has yet seen them move, this is still just a theory.

When we hiked out to find one of these lithic travelers, we walked from one to another but most had no trails, no sign at all of doing anything unusual. But some rocks further north did not let us down.

death valley racetrack tours

The trail in the dry playa was clear; this rock had moved, moved a substantial distance, several hundred feet, without human or animal help; there were no tracks around it, no record of assistance, just the path it made as it slid through the mud. It had changed directions, several times. It was easy to see the record of various windstorms, and imagine how long they lasted; some a short time, some for days, with wind coming from different directions making the rock slide in different ways.

We found others nearby. Interestingly, the patterns the rock trails had made were different from each other. Since the scientists believe they are wind-blown, we expected to see paths that parallel each other, or follow the same pattern. This wasn't the case.

According to the National Park Service, there are 8 other playas near Death Valley where this phenomenon occurs. The mix of a clay-bottom lakebed, enough moisture to make it slick, rocks and strong winds occurs at these locations, too.

death valley racetrack tours

The Racetrack is located beyond Ubehebe Crater, which is southwest of Scotty's Castle of Scotty's Castle. Coming from Ubehebe, the National Park Service advises that 4-wheel drive may be needed to get there. The 4-wheel drive requirement seems (under normal weather conditions) overcautious; on the day we traveled it, the road was washboarded, but graded and easy, usually fit for the family sedan.

The Racetrack is not an illusion It is well worth the washboard ride, or the hours of 4-wheeling it takes to reach the lake from the south.

August 2014: For more than 50 years, scientists have puzzled over rocks that seemed to move across the dry landscape of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park. They could see their trails but only speculated how they might have moved from point A to point B, not seeing one actually in the act of transit. Until now. Watch time-lapse video of the rock-movement phenomenon and learn the secret.

“In contrast with previous hypotheses of powerful winds or thick ice floating rocks off the playa surface, the process of rock movement that we have observed occurs when the thin, 3 to 6 mm, ‘windowpane’ ice sheet covering the playa pool begins to melt in late morning sun and breaks up under light winds of [about] 4–5 [meters per second],” the study authors wrote in the abstract published in the journal PLOS One . “Floating ice panels 10 s of meters in size push multiple rocks at low speeds of 2–5 m/min. along trajectories determined by the direction and velocity of the wind as well as that of the water flowing under the ice.”

Part 1: Lippincott Mine Rd. - 4WD Route to Racetrack Playa Part 2: The Racetrack Playa Part 3: Off-Road Driving Tips

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OUR TOUR VEHICLE OF CHOICE THE HUMMER H2 & H3

Why The Hummer ? The Hummer brand is one of America's biggest automotive icons (both figuratively and literally). Originally designed for the military, Hummers are famous for their size and off-road capability.   The Hummer H3  is an off-road vehicle that was produced from 2005 to 2010 by  General Motors . The smallest model of The Hummer lineup,  H3s were designed to breeze through turns smoother, tighter and with a level of agility not typical of the Hummer name. The Hummer H2 , larger than the Hummer H3 and smaller than The Hummer H1, offers impressively smooth off-road capabilities. It also provides our customers with a luxurious interior, comfortable and convenient seating, with a 3rd row seat to accommodate our larger groups.

As a family owned and operated business for 30+ years, we have dedicated our lives and resources to provide an  unforgettable back country   experience . Time  has transformed our passion for adventure and working with people into a successful business you can trust. In offering Death Valley Tours we have been incredibly privileged to have guided so many people from all over the world through the breathtaking landscape of Death Valley National Park. Our mission is to show a different side to the world of Death Valley, what it has to offer, and to help visitors gain a deeper understanding of the history, sites and destinations inside this 3.4 million acre paradise we call, home!

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The Racetrack: The Sliding Rocks of Death Valley

One of the most unusual places to visit in all of Death Valley is located 27 miles down a dirt road, only accessible via an all-day adventure in a four wheel drive car. This place is known as The Racetrack, but most people will know it by its photos of rocks that seemingly move all by themselves across this dry, desolate lake bed. It was a must visit for us on our recent trip and is worth seeing for anyone that finds themselves in Death Valley. It is truly unique and is a relatively undisturbed natural attraction due to the difficulty and planning it takes to get yourself out there. Read on for history and photos of this unique place.

death valley racetrack tours

History and Possible Explanation

“The sailing stones are a geological phenomenon found in the Racetrack. The stones slowly move across the surface of the playa, leaving a track as they go, without human or animal intervention. They have never been seen or filmed in motion. Racetrack stones only move once every two or three years, and most tracks last for three or four years. Stones with rough bottoms leave straight striated tracks while those with smooth bottoms wander. Stones sometimes turn over, exposing another edge to the ground and leaving a different-sized track in the stone’s wake.”

death valley racetrack tours

Getting There

Getting to the Racetrack is an all-day adventure during the winter months when it gets dark early. The Racetrack road is located about 50 miles north of Furnace Creek, and then from there, it is about 27 miles down a dirt road where your speed will rarely ever reach more than 25 MPH. The road is not overly bad; however it is washboard almost the entire time and jumbles you around as you drive on it. Most people say to plan on an hour and a half drive on this dirt road, but we did it in a little over an hour. Make sure you have a car that is four-wheel drive or at least elevated. If you don’t, you can always rent one from Farabee’s Jeep Rentals , which is what we did.

death valley racetrack tours

After about 20 miles, you will reach Teakettle Junction, which means you are about 6 miles from the Racetrack, and this is also the place you turn off to get to Lost Burrow Mine . About a mile later, you should start to see the playa in the distance as it stands out from the other terrain like a sore thumb. You also will immediately notice the Grandstand, which is the black rocks jutting out of the dry lake bed.

death valley racetrack tours

The Grandstand

The other unique attraction here is the Grandstand. This small outcropping of rocks blatantly sticks out in the landscape of the dry lake bed. It is in the north part and is about a quarter of a mile walk from where you park. This area is unique as well and is about 65 feet high. You can see the Grandstand from very far away as it is so different than all of the surrounding landscape. Climbing up on it is a great way to get 360-degree pictures of the Playa and the Racetrack.

death valley racetrack tours

Here is a video of the Grandstand

The Racetrack Playa

After that, we went immediately to the Racetrack as we didn’t want any other people in our shots, and we were utterly alone. In retrospect, we only saw like three other cars all day, so I don’t think you have to worry about other people as it is so off the beaten path. To see the rocks with the tracks you need to head to the southeast end of the playa. There is a little place to park with a sign about the rocks, and this is where you will start your walk.

death valley racetrack tours

It is about a half-mile from where you park to where the rocks are, and as you start to get closer, you will see them. Plan to spend at least an hour here as there are many different rocks to all shapes and sizes, as well as many different shaped paths. You will want to keep looking around. Also, if the ground is at all wet, which is rarely is in Death Vally, you want to make sure you do not walk on the Playa as it can leave you footprints for years to come. Check out my pictures below.

death valley racetrack tours

Here is a video showing the Racetrack

All in all, this was one of my favorite parts of our weekend in Death Valley. For the photographer, it is especially fun as it is so unique and provides beautiful photos. Even Amie enjoyed walking around and taking it in, though, so I would recommend you find a way to visit it if you are planning a trip to Death Valley.

Let me know what you think and get directions below.

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The Discoveries Of

7 Best Death Valley Tours for Epic Adventures

Ready for an adventure? Plan the ultimate Californian trip with one of these epic Death Valley tours.

Okay, I’ll admit: Death Valley appears to the untrained eye as an arid and desolate destination – and it might be. But, with its medley of russet stone and stunning mineral deposits, it’s also an explorer’s paradise. 

Boasting landscapes that defy imagination and extreme temperature levels, Death Valley is an iconic strip of Eastern California that needs to be seen to be believed.

Wait up before you go booking your Death Valley adventure – I’m about to treat you to the best Death Valley tours money can buy. No, I’m not kidding, these tours are insane .

The Best Death Valley Tours 

Las vegas: death valley day tour.

Mesquite Sand Dunes Death Valley National Park

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that Death Valley has enough distinct features to keep anyone busy for days. 

But, alas, sometimes all you have is one day. But, when you book this Death Valley Day Tour , maybe one (extremely jam-packed) day is all you need.

How does a walk along the lowest elevation in North America sound? Or maybe hitting up some eclectic desert Americana sites is more your vibe? That and much more await you during this tour. 

The big highlight, though, is the stop at Furnace Creek, where the hottest air temperature in Death Valley occurred in 1913—a whopping 134°F (57°C).

If that doesn’t win you over just yet, you’ll also visit Area 51 sites, such as the remote Alien Crater, during this tour. A stop at one of Death Valley’s ghost towns, Rhyolite, adds some spooky flair, while the Goldwell Open Air Museum showcases oddities and a glimpse into the past.

Finally, you’ll have ample chance to catch some buzzworthy snapshots at Badwater Basin, followed by the swirling colours of Zabriskie Point.

Tip: Eager to explore more of the Golden State? Read my guide on the best things to do in California .

Book Your Spot on the Death Valley Day Tour from Las Vegas

From Las Vegas: Full-Day Death Valley Group Tour

Artist's Palette Death Valley

While Death Valley boasts a myriad of exciting locations to visit, its vast landscapes make fitting the best into one day quite tricky.  But don’t say I don’t go above and beyond – this full-day Death Valley Group Tour , excitingly, includes the best of the best.

With its first stop, the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, you get the chance to traverse one of the most majestic dunes in the world. 

Soon after, you’ll head to the stunning Zabriskie Point and Artist’s Palette, which will have your cameras working overtime. It’s at Artist’s Palette, where you hike a short distance for some epic scenes of volcanic minerals frozen in time.

Better yet, this tour includes complimentary food and drinks to ensure your belly is as treated as your eyes. 

Departing from the Martian-like landscapes of Zabriskie Point, you’ll end the tour at Dante’s View. Here breathtaking sights of the edge of the Black Mountains await.

Book a Spot on This Full-Day Death Valley Group Tour

Death Valley NP Full-Day Small Groups Tour from Las Vegas

Badwater Basin Death Valley National Park

Staying in Las Vegas and eager to experience the ultimate Death Valley tour? Look no further than this full-day Small Group Tour , with direct pickup from central Vegas. 

I would like to think that I’m the Queen of getting bang for your buck, and this tour easily ranks as one of the best value Death Valley excursions.

As a first stop, you’ll get up close and personal with Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere. Taking you on a scenic drive after that through Artist’s Palette and a stop at the Death Valley Visitors Centre immerses you in the park’s history.

Now, if you’re eager for epic selfie opportunities (how else are you going to flex on the ‘Gram, of course?), this tour includes viewpoints such as Dante’s View, Zabriskie Point, and the Devil’s Golf Course. 

Another major highlight of this tour is the provided picnic lunch at Furnace Creek and a drive back to Vegas through Mule Team Canyon.

Tip: This tour is available as a fully private day tour if you book all five seats.

Book an Epic Adventure with this Full-Day Small Groups Tour

From Las Vegas: Death Valley Trekker Tour

Mosaic Canyon Death Valley National Park

Newbie looking to hit up the valley? Next up is one of the most iconic Death Valley National Park tours from Las Vegas. The Death Valley Trekker Tour offers a luxurious trip in a comfortable, specially fitted all-terrain vehicle, taking you to places few others go.

Along this tour (and from the comfort of your reclining leather captain seats, no less), you’ll get to admire all the popular sites. 

Starting in Badwater Basin, where you’ll stand 282 feet below sea level, the tour takes you to the historic Harmony Borax Works. This tour includes a prepacked lunch to enjoy as you roam from one unique spot to the next.

Heading off-road through Mule Team Canyon, you’ll get to marvel at the sweeping vistas and mountainous Amargosa Mountain Range. Things finish up with stops at the Devil’s Golf Course and Artist’s Palette viewpoints before heading back to Las Vegas.

Explore Death Valley in Style with the Death Valley Trekker Tour

Death Valley: Full-Day Tour from Las Vegas

Badwater Basin Death Valley National Park

Most tours of Death Valley head to its enigmatic locations, which are perfect if you’re an eager explorer looking for memorable hotspots. But some tours highlight the valley’s breathtaking landscapes, which is why this full-day Death Valley Tour stands out.

Expect to feast your eyes on the endless desert, vast valleys, and sculpted peaks of Death Valley during this stunner. Yes, it includes stops at typical attractions such as Badwater Basin and Rhyolite, but it adds a unique flair. If you’re a scenery-chaser, this one’s for you.

Prepare yourself (and your cameras) for almost unreal valley views from Hell’s Gate, followed by gorgeous photo ops at Zabriskie Point. Hitting the colourful swirls of the Artist’s Palette, the stunning Salt Lake, and the mind blowing Sand Dunes to finish off.

Tip: Include a Death Valley tour on this great California road trip .

Go Sightseeing with this Full-Day Death Valley Tour

From Las Vegas: Death Valley & Rhyolite Ghost Town Private Tour

Zabriskie Point Death Valley National Park

Next up is a tour that, admittedly, won’t be for everyone – but fans of all things spooky won’t want to miss out.

Exploring the harsh terrain of Death Valley is one thing, but wandering the lonely streets of its most famous ghost town is an almost surreal, certainly creepy experience. Heading out on this Death Valley & Rhyolite Tour with an expert guide is a must.

Starting the trip, you’ll venture through the valley’s picturesque landscapes and iconic regions. 

Grab some snapshots of Zabriskie Point, the Harmony Borax Works, and then step into the past in Rhyolite, a gold rush town which only saw habitation for 12 years. 

Your guide will divulge its rich history – and, while there likely won’t be any actual ghosts (don’t worry), I guarantee you’ll be left feeling a little but unsettled by the town.

Once you’ve explored the abandoned town, you’ll head back through the Mojave Desert and return to your comfy Las Vegas accommodation.

Ghost Hunt and Explore the Town of Rhyolite on this Private Tour

From Las Vegas: Death Valley Day Trip with Stargazing & Wine Tour

Dante's View Death Valley National Park

Alright, so I may have saved the best ‘til last. I’ve got a very smug face right now.

For a truly unforgettable experience within Death Valley National Park, you’ll want to book this full-day hiking Death Valley Day Trip . 

I know what you’re thinking – Julianna, what’s so special about this one? Well, allow me to explain.

Led by a professional photographer and guide, you’ll embark on an intimate adventure with the panoramic landscapes of the valley. Starting the tour in Pahrump, things kick off with wine tasting at a local winery (it’s a huge yes from me), followed by a journey to Dante’s View, Badwater Basin, and Furnace Creek. 

Seeing why it’s so special yet? Thought so.

But that’s not all: To cap off your epic adventure, you and your group will head to Zabriskie Point as the sun begins to set. As the sun sets, a spectacular array of dazzling stars begins to shine above, and your senses can feast on the best stargazing opportunity in the park.

Tip: After this tour, all photos taken by your professional guide are available to download from the generated link provided.

Indulge in Wine and Stargaze during This Death Valley Day Trip

Practical Tips for Booking Your Death Valley Tour

  • Be sure to check the availability of your tour before booking. Most Death Valley tours only have seasonal availability.
  • Death Valley gets EXTREMELY hot – I’m talking skin blisteringly so. Make sure you wear suncream and bring a hat and plenty of water, you’ll thank yourself. Check out my guide to essential travel gear to help you prepare.
  • It sucks but some tours are not suitable for certain people, such as minors and individuals with pre-existing medical conditions. Make sure your chosen excursion accommodates you before booking.

Read More Death Valley Guides

  • Brilliant National Parks to Visit in December
  • The Ultimate California Road Trip
  • Unmissable Things to do in California

I’m Julianna Barnaby - a professional travel writer and geek extraordinaire. I started The Discoveries Of to help you to discover the best of new destinations from around the world.

Discovering new places is a thrill - whether it’s close to home, a new country or continent, I write to help you explore more and explore differently.

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THE 10 BEST Death Valley National Park Tours & Excursions

Death valley national park tours.

  • Sightseeing Tours
  • Private Tours
  • Walking Tours
  • Wine Tours & Tastings
  • Historical & Heritage Tours
  • Cultural Tours
  • Ghost & Vampire Tours
  • Up to 1 hour
  • 1 to 4 hours
  • 4 hours to 1 day
  • 5.0 of 5 bubbles
  • 4.0 of 5 bubbles & up
  • 3.0 of 5 bubbles & up
  • 2.0 of 5 bubbles & up
  • Likely to Sell Out
  • The ranking of tours, activities, and experiences available on Tripadvisor is determined by several factors including the revenue generated by Tripadvisor from these bookings, the frequency of user clicks, and the volume and quality of customer reviews. Occasionally, newly listed offerings may be prioritized and appear higher in the list. The specific placement of these new listings may vary.

death valley racetrack tours

1. Death Valley Sunset and Starry Night Tour from Las Vegas

death valley racetrack tours

2. Death Valley Small Group Day Tour from Las Vegas

death valley racetrack tours

3. Small-Group Death Valley National Park Day Tour from Las Vegas

death valley racetrack tours

4. Death Valley Sightseeing Tour with Stargazing and Wine Tasting

death valley racetrack tours

5. Death Valley Day Trip from Las Vegas

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6. Death Valley National Park Self-Guided Audio Driving Tour

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7. Death Valley Explorer Tour by Tour Trekker

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8. Death Valley Self Guided Audio Driving Tour

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9. Small Group Tour at the Death Valley from Las Vegas + LUNCH

death valley racetrack tours

10. Death Valley Sunrise & Stargazing Day Tour Group Discount for 2 More People

death valley racetrack tours

11. Death Valley Adventure Trip Barren Beauty and Natural Wonders

death valley racetrack tours

12. Death Valley Full Day Private Tour and Hike

death valley racetrack tours

13. Small Group One Day Tour Death Valley National Park and Rhyolite Ghost Town

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14. Death Valley National Park Audio Guided Driving Tour

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15. Small Group Tour at the Death Valley from Las Vegas

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16. Death Valley on Mojave Desert VIP Small Group Tour from Las Vegas

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17. Private Tour: Death Valley National Park from Las Vegas

Keep the fun going with other experiences in the area.

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Death valley's moving rocks.

Photo by Jeffery Aiello

Racetrack Playa is home to one of Death Valley's most enduring mysteries. Littered across the flat surface of this dry lake, also called a "playa," are hundreds of rocks that seem to have been dragged across the ground. Sometimes these rocks—some weighing as much as 320 kilograms (700 pounds)—leave synchronized trails that can stretch for hundreds of meters. The rocks may sit for years without moving.

What causes these rocks to move? Researchers just recently found out. Remote observations from 2011 to 2013 showed it's a rare combination of water, ice, and wind.

Discover the details about the moving rocks of Death Valley , including a first-hand account from the researchers who may have solved this mystery.

A note about seeing the moving rocks: The surface of the Racetrack Playa is very fragile. Driving on it or anywhere off established roads is strictly prohibited. Do not move or remove any of the rocks and avoid walking in muddy areas when the playa is wet. A more easily accessible location to observe the tracks of sliding stones is the Bonnie Claire Playa east of Scotty's Castle. The south shore of the playa runs right along the north side of Highway 72. There is abundant evidence of sliding stones at this playa, which is believed to experience the same rock-moving conditions as the Racetrack. The area is administered by the Bureau of Land Management.

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Death Valley National Park

Last updated: March 22, 2018

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Things To Do at The Oasis at Death Valley

Possibly the most uniquely situated resort in the United States, The Oasis at Death Valley gives you the perfect vantage point to explore Death Valley National Park. From either the Inn or the Ranch at Death Valley, you’ll have your pick of memorable explorations such as Mushroom Rock, Zabriskie Point, Dante’s View, and Harmony Borax Works, which are all places not to be missed.

Whether you travel around for an entire day or head out for just a few hours, you’ll be taken aback by all that is unique to one of America’s largest national parks.

Tours & Activities

Jeep Rentals

Jeep rental season is now year-round, weather permitting. • four-door jeeps (seating up to five) $345 including taxes and fees/ excluding gas • 200 miles included per day, $0.50 every additional mile • drivers must be 25 or older with valid u.s. or international drivers license, credit card, and auto insurance. note: please check with you insurance company to verify it covers rental vehicles..

To make your adventure fun and easy, all rentals include: • Free cooler with ice and water • Detailed maps with current backcountry trail information • Introductory overview of the Jeep and necessary features • GPS Spot Units for tracking in case of emergency

Pick Up between 8am and 10am, Drop off that same evening Reservations recommended. Call 760.786.9872 for questions or to complete a reservation.

We wear masks and follow all COVID19 procedures and requirements. Want to discover the valley with some guidance? Take a look at our tours!

Fun for your whole family.

IMAGES

  1. Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park: Photos & Tips

    death valley racetrack tours

  2. Photographing the Racetrack in Death Valley National Park

    death valley racetrack tours

  3. Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park: Photos & Tips

    death valley racetrack tours

  4. Racetrack Playa

    death valley racetrack tours

  5. Visiting Racetrack Playa in Death Valley: Everything You Need to Know

    death valley racetrack tours

  6. Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park: Photos & Tips

    death valley racetrack tours

VIDEO

  1. Dinner Preparation at Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park 03/09/24

  2. Death Valley

  3. Racetrack Playa Death Valley

  4. The Mystery Behind Walking Stone #reels #foryou #mystery #walkingstone #yttracker #shorts

  5. Moving Stones At Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park

  6. Exploring Death Valley

COMMENTS

  1. The Racetrack

    The Racetrack is a playa (dry lakebed) about 3 miles long and 2 miles wide. At least 10,000 years ago this region underwent climatic changes resulting in cycles of hot, cold and wet periods. As the climate changed, the lake evaporated and left behind beige colored mud, at least 1,000 feet thick. Moving Rocks.

  2. Death Valley Tours

    Being in an RV can be rough, they're so big its almost impossible to enjoy all the wonders Death Valley National Park has to offer. This 3 hour RV designed tour takes you to the places an RV cant! Join us as we travel through Artist's Drive, 20 Mule Team Canyon and Dante's View. Ticket Price: Please call (760)786-9872 for prices and ...

  3. Death Valley

    Racetrack Tour. Ticket Price (All Ages): $280.00. Our tour of the Racetrack is roughly an 8 hour tour. It requires 2.5-3 hours of driving both to and from the Racetrack Playa; half of which is on rough washboard dirt roads. ... THE DEATH VALLEY EXPERIENCE TOUR. The Death Valley Experience Tour is the easiest way to see the best of several of ...

  4. How to Visit Racetrack Playa & See the Sliding Rocks in Death Valley NP

    Getting to the Racetrack Playa can be a challenge. Perched in a secluded area of the park, this playa is an 83-mile drive from the Furnace Valley Visitor Center. And, 27 miles of the drive are on unpaved and rough roads. On average, it takes 3 hours and 30 minutes to reach the playa via Furnace Creek.

  5. Visiting Racetrack Playa in Death Valley: Everything You Need to Know

    10 tips for Visiting Racetrack Playa in Death Valley. 1. You need four-wheel drive. The only way to get to Death Valley's Racetrack Playa is with a four-wheel drive vehicle. This is because road to the dry lakebed is on a graded washboard narrow dirt road lined with loose sharp rocks.

  6. RACETRACK PLAYA: How to Visit this Mysterious Death Valley Spot

    Best Time to Visit Racetrack Playa. The best time to visit the Racetrack Playa is around sunset to watch the sky light up with a dazzling display of color. Sunrise and night time here can also be dazzling. RELATED: 16 STUNNING Things to Do in Death Valley National Park 2021. Death Valley's Mysterious Racetrack Playa.

  7. The Racetrack

    The hardest part of the Racetrack was the drive. (The second hardest part of Racetrack was the heat.) The drive was challenging. We rented a ford Explorer in Vegas and purchased food/snacks and water outside of Death Valley. Racetrack itself is flat. I wish we were able to go to Death Valley when it was not so hot.

  8. The Racetrack

    This strenuous 6-mile round trip hike involves an elevation gain of 1800 feet. Look for this trail west of the Grandstand parking lot. The Racetrack is a playa (dry lakebed) about 3 miles long and 2 miles wide. At least 10,000 years ago this region underwent climatic changes resulting in cycles of hot, cold and wet periods.

  9. Sliding Rocks

    The Racetrack is not an illusion It is well worth the washboard ride, or the hours of 4-wheeling it takes to reach the lake from the south. August 2014: For more than 50 years, scientists have puzzled over rocks that seemed to move across the dry landscape of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park. They could see their trails but only ...

  10. Racetrack Playa

    Racetrack playa is approximately 3 miles long and 1.2 miles wide and is located at a height of 3708 feet in a north-south valley east of the Panamint Range within Death Valley National Park. It receives only 3 inches of annual precipitation and is bounded on all sides by north-south ranges rising 1500 to 2000 feet.

  11. Farabee's Jeep Rentals & Tours

    To make your adventure fun and easy, Farabee's Jeep Rentals provides: Free planning for your sightseeing tours. Free maps and ice chests with ice. Driving tips & operating instructions. Their jeeps are new, comfortable, and off-road ready. Automatic transmissions & air conditioning. 2-inch suspension lift. Heavy-duty tires for the back country.

  12. Death Valley Tours

    Here in Death Valley at Farabees' Backcountry Tours, located inside the National Park at "The Oasis In Death Valley" Furnace Creek, California, we offer a variety of back country tours that will take you through this beautiful 3.4 million acre National Park called Death Valley, safely! ... Racetrack Valley. Ubehebe Crater Joshua Tree Forest Tea ...

  13. Ranger Programs and Guided Tours

    Programs are typically offered mid-November to mid-April. No outdoor formal programs are scheduled during summer due to extreme heat (nightly lows can be over 100F/38C!). Limited indoor programs may be offered during the summer- check at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center for a schedule. Ranger-led Programs. Scotty's Castle Tours.

  14. The Racetrack: The Sliding Rocks of Death Valley

    The Racetrack: The Sliding Rocks of Death Valley. One of the most unusual places to visit in all of Death Valley is located 27 miles down a dirt road, only accessible via an all-day adventure in a four wheel drive car. This place is known as The Racetrack, but most people will know it by its photos of rocks that seemingly move all by themselves ...

  15. 7 Best Death Valley Tours for Epic Adventures

    While Death Valley boasts a myriad of exciting locations to visit, its vast landscapes make fitting the best into one day quite tricky. But don't say I don't go above and beyond - this full-day Death Valley Group Tour, excitingly, includes the best of the best.. With its first stop, the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, you get the chance to traverse one of the most majestic dunes in the world.

  16. THE 10 BEST Death Valley National Park Tours & Excursions

    from. $199. per adult. 3. Small-Group Death Valley National Park Day Tour from Las Vegas. 82. Full-day Tours. 6+ hours. Explore Death Valley National Park, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, on this full-day excursion from Las Vegas….

  17. Death Valley Tours from Las Vegas

    Premium Tour: Explore the hottest, driest and lowest National Park in the Lower 48 (7-9 stops) Pahrump, NV: Step back in time during a nostalgic comfort stop at the Death Valley Marketplace. Dante's View: Get panoramic views of the colorful badlands from 5,500 feet above the salt pans. Visitor Center: View educational exhibits or shop for ...

  18. Death Valley's Moving Rocks

    The moving rocks of the Racetrack. Photo by Jeffery Aiello. Racetrack Playa is home to one of Death Valley's most enduring mysteries. Littered across the flat surface of this dry lake, also called a "playa," are hundreds of rocks that seem to have been dragged across the ground. Sometimes these rocks—some weighing as much as 320 kilograms ...

  19. Tours & Activities

    Possibly the most uniquely situated resort in the United States, The Oasis at Death Valley gives you the perfect vantage point to explore Death Valley National Park. From either the Inn or the Ranch at Death Valley, you'll have your pick of memorable explorations such as Mushroom Rock, Zabriskie Point, Dante's View, and Harmony Borax Works ...

  20. Death Valley Rentals

    Jeep Rentals. Jeep rental season is now year-round, weather permitting. • Four-door Jeeps (seating up to five) $345 including taxes and fees/excluding gas. • 200 Miles included per day, $0.50 every additional mile. • Drivers must be 25 or older with valid U.S. or international Drivers license, credit card, and auto insurance.