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racetrack playa death valley national park california

RACETRACK PLAYA: How to Visit this Mysterious Death Valley Spot

The Racetrack Playa at Death Valley National Park features rocks that mysteriously move across the cracked desert floor leaving long trails.

About Racetrack Playa

racetrack playa death valley national park california
Racetrack Playa | Death Valley National Park, California

The Racetrack Playa at Death Valley National Park features rocks that mysteriously move across the cracked desert floor leaving long trails and lots of intrigue. It is strongly advised that if you are planning to go the the Racetrack Playa that you do so using a high clearance vehicle as the road is pretty rough.

Make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen, water, & a snack as the closest  services (or service) are a minimum 2-3 hour drive from the Racetrack Playa.

RELATED: Comprehensive Death Valley National Park Guide


Protect Racetrack Playa

This location is special and sadly has not always been treated as such. In recent years incidents have occurred with park visitors driving a vehicle on the Racetrack Playa.

Despite extensive efforts to repair the damage done the scars are still visible and will be for many years to come. DO NOT drive off marked roads here or anywhere else in the park.

If you see someone doing so be sure to take photos, record their license plate number, and file a report at the closest ranger station.

RELATED: 10+ (FASCINATING) Death Valley National Park Facts You Probably Didn’t Know


Best time to Visit Racetrack Playa

spring in death valley
Death Valley’s Mysterious 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


Things to Note When Visiting Racetrack Playa

Entrance Fees: The fee to enter Death Valley is $30 per vehicle. If you plan on visiting more than 1 national park this year we suggest you go ahead and purchase the America the Beautiful Pass (which can be found at the entrance gates to most national parks or online here). This pass gets you into all National Parks, Forests, Monuments, and more including 2,000 sites for free after a one time $79 fee.

Guide: I highly recommend this one.

Map: I use this one.

Provisions: Make sure to pack plenty of food & water – there are no services anywhere remotely close to Racetrack Playa.

TREAD LIGHTLY: The desert floor at the Racetrack Playa is extremely sensitive so walk lightly. In years past people have driven a vehicle on this surface and despite massive repair efforts undertaken by the park service the damage will take many, many years to full recover.

Sunscreen: For many of us visiting national parks in the summer means lots of sun. Seriously, some of these parks can zap you if you don’t wear sunscreen. We happen to like this one because it works AND it’s not full of a bunch of chemicals.

Leave No Trace: We’re big fans of Leave No Trace, here at MTJP. Want to learn more? Read about the seven principals of Leave No Trace here.

Flat Tires: Have a plan in case you get a flat tire on the long and bumpy road out to the racetrack.


About Death Valley

death valley national park california
The valley floor of Death Valley National Park

Situated on California’s southeastern border with Nevada, Death Valley National Park spans over 5,000 square miles of otherworldly vistas. The largest national park in the continental United States, Death Valley is a park for superlatives.

Death Valley is the hottest place on earth, the lowest place in North America, and the driest place in the United States. Death Valley is also the largest National Park outside of Alaska.


Death Valley Video

In the remote far reaches of the Mojave Desert lies the largest national park in the continental United States. Hidden here in the hottest place on earth is another world full of diverse life and colorful landscapes.

Join us as we take life to the extreme and explore Death Valley. Filmed primarily in 8K.​


Death Valley Map

Will Pattiz

Co-founder of More Than Just Parks. Husband. Conservationist. Currently living in NYC.

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