Sailing Stones:- Racetrack Playa,Death Valley (Video Included)

The Racetrack playa is 3608 feet (1130 m) above sea level, and 2.8 miles (4.5 km) long (north-south) by 1.3 miles (2 km) wide (east-west). It is also exceptionally flat and level. Racetrack is dry for almost the entire year and has no vegetation. When dry, its surface is covered with small but firm hexagonal mud crack saucers that are typically 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm) in diameter and about an inch (2.5 cm) thick.


Racetrack Playa from space‎             Sailing stone in Racetrack Playa

Sailing stones, sliding rocks, and moving rocks all refer to a geological phenomenon where rocks move in long tracks along a smooth valley floor without human or animal intervention. They have been studied in a number of places around Racetrack Playa, Death Valley, where the number and length of travel grooves are notable. The force behind their movement is not confirmed and is the subject of research. It really is an Unexplained mystery.


The stones move only every two or three years and most tracks develop over 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 track in the stone’s wake. Trails differ in both direction and length. Rocks that start next to each other may travel parallel for a time, before one abruptly changes direction to the left, right, or even back the direction it came from. Trail length also varies – two similarly sized and shaped rocks may travel uniformly, then one could move ahead or stop in its track

Learn more about Racetrack Playa in Wikipedia.

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9 Responses to Sailing Stones:- Racetrack Playa,Death Valley (Video Included)

  1. Barbara says:

    The world is so full of marvelous wonders! Seems like every time I turn around you’ve found another one… Astonishing!

  2. malc50 says:

    Fascinating, Mags! Some true facts are so strange, that no-one, no matter how vivid their imagination, would ever dream them up. Cheers.

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi Mal,
      That is so true, if you didn’t know about Death Valley, you would never believe that rocks could move on their own accord on a flat surface.

  3. travelrat says:

    I saw these on the National Geographic Channel some time ago … remended me of the ‘moving rock’ I saw on the beach at Salalah one evening. I’d taken a walk after dinner, and was just about to sit on it to smoke a cigarette (shows how long ago that was! :D) and it MOVED!

    Turned out it was a sea-turtle … and the beach was covered in them!

    • magsx2 says:

      Hi travelrat,
      I wish I could of seen that, I don’t get the NG Channel, it would of been a good documentry no doubt.
      “Tuned out it was a sea-turtle” 😆

  4. Rebekah says:

    How intriguing … and fascinating. All the unexplained mysteries of Nature kind of tickles the mind..
    This was very interesting to find out about!!!

  5. Pingback: Sliding Rocks of Racetrack Playa | Tangled Up in Blue Guy

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