I wanna be a playa….

In the northwest portion of Death Valley proper is an area called “The Racetrack” (or more accurately, the Racetrack Playa).  This is an area a little less than 3 miles long, with no vegetation and an almost completely level floor.  For you nitpickers (Eric) the north end is 1.5 inches higher than the south end.

The Racetrack is not the kind of track that NASCAR races on.  Strange events occur here….

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Rocks move, seemingly by themselves!

(The photo above was taken in the Visitor Center.  The road to the Racetrack is 28 miles of dirt and rock and I wasn’t about to venture out there when it was a gazillion degrees…).

NASA scientists and university researchers have looked into how and why this phenomenon occurs.  The current theory is that in the winter this area of the Park gets slightly more rain than other areas, and the nights are cold enough for that water to freeze, creating a glaze on the surface.  Strong winds then push the rocks, some of which are substantial, creating these paths.  Now contrarians point out that sometimes these paths cross during the night, which would mean the wind would have had to change direction – affecting one rock but not the other.  Weird.

You can find other photos online, as well as possible explanations for this bizarre activity.

 

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