Spooky Nature: The Sailing Stones, Death Valley

Nature can be beautiful, inspiring, and calming but it can also be downright spooky. Certain natural phenomena can create very unique situations and such is the case in Death Valley with the sailing stones. Death Valley National Park is located on the border between California and Nevada and it is known for its extremely hot weather. A dry lake bed called Racetrack Playa is home to rocks from a few ounces to hundreds of pounds which appear to move across the ground with no gravitational cause. The movement of these rocks leaves trails along the dry lake bed making them appear to have moved all on their own.

Trails left behind by rocks on Racetrack Playa in Death Valley.


So do these rocks have some magical quality that allows them to move alone? Science seems to point to no. Scientists believe that the mixture of ice, water, and wind create a perfect balance to move the sailing stones. It is believed that there could be a shallow layer of water in the dry lake bed which can freeze if nighttime temperatures dip cold enough. When the temperature starts to rise it can cause the ice to break up and float along with the help of light winds, pushing the rocks along with it. Regardless of the reasoning behind it, the sailing stones are still a very interesting (and spooky!) natural phenomenon.

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