Racetrack Playa

Death Valley National Park

Past the northern end of Hwy 190, it's slow going for 27 miles on a tire-shredding dirt road (high-clearance and 4WD usually required) to the eerie Racetrack, where hundreds of sizeable rocks have etched tracks into the dry lake bed. In 2014, a group of researchers finally lifted the mystery when they actually observed the stones being moved by thin sheets of ice that were pushed by gentle winds across the desert floor. Read all about it at www.racetrackplaya.org.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Death Valley National Park attractions

1. Father Crowley Vista

22.04 MILES

This viewpoint peers deep into Rainbow Canyon, created by lava flows and scattered with multihued volcanic cinders. It's worth a quick stop on your way in…

2. Little Hebe Crater

23.68 MILES

In the north, Hwy 190 ends at a landscape shaped by a cluster of craters, of which Ubehebe is the largest. Its younger brother, Little Hebe, is a short…

3. Ubehebe Crater

23.83 MILES

Hwy 190 ends at 600ft-deep Ubehebe Crater, formed some 300 years ago by the meeting of fiery magma and cool groundwater. As the water turned into steam,…

4. Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

25.42 MILES

The most accessible dunes in Death Valley are an undulating sea of sand rising up to 100ft high next to the highway near Stovepipe Wells Village. They're…

5. Lower Vine Ranch

25.42 MILES

The house where gold-prospector Walter Scott (aka Scotty) actually lived can only be visited on ranger-led hikes that must be booked in advance via www…

6. Scotty's Castle

27.65 MILES

Closed due to flood damage and not likely to reopen until at least 2020, this whimsical castle was the desert home of Walter E Scott, alias ‘Death Valley…

7. Skidoo

28.02 MILES

Some 6 miles southwest of Stovepipe Wells, Emigrant Canyon Rd veers off Hwy 190 and travels south to the park's higher elevations. En route you'll pass…

8. Museum of Western Film History

28.2 MILES

More than 400 movies, not to mention numerous commercials (mostly for rugged SUVs and Jeeps), have been shot in the area. This fascinating museum contains…