Sailing stones of Racetrack Playa, a mysterious phenomenon

The sailing stones of Racetrack Playa have puzzled many for nearly a century. Here's the explanation behind this mysterious phenomenon.

Mysterious Rock Trails

What are the sailing stones?

Located in Racetrack Plata, a dry lake in Death Valley National Park, the sailing stones are a geographical phenomenon where rocks move without human or animal intervention and create long tracks behind them. The natural event was first observed by prospector Joseph Crook in 1915 when he visited from Nevada. Geologists Jim McAllister and Allen Agnew published a report about the sliding rocks in the Geologic Society of America Bulletin, drawing the attention of several naturalists. Since then they have been researched for the last several years by scientists and publications including Life magazine.

Despite the mystery, some visitors do not respect the importance of this phenomenon. In recent years, there has been both theft and vandalism of the sailing rocks and their trails. In 2013, some were stolen and never recovered. In 2016, one of the rocks had initials carved into them and the area was covered with tire tracks, ruining the natural tracks. However, the tire tracks have since been cleaned by volunteers. Today, there are over thirty rocks still out there and occasionally moving every so often.

How do they move?

The answer was determined back in 2014. This movement of the rocks occurs because of a layer of ice that is created by intense winter rainfall and freezing night temperatures. Then the ice melts into large sheets of ice that float on puddles of water. This exposes the rock and ice sheets to incredibly strong winds that drag and the rocks move up to 5 meters per minute. This defied previous research done by geologist George Stanley when he wrote in his 1955 paper that the stones were too heavy to be moved by winds. However, climate change may affect the number of times this phenomenon occurs as there has already been a decline in the sailing stone movement since the 1990s, making the sailing stones even more special.


03/07/2020 2:30 PM


  • Jose A.
    5 hours


  • Ryan E.
    5 hours

    3-4 metres per minute? That’s quite fast for a rock

  • Villaber M.
    5 hours

    Its not suprising becoz wind can move that llittle by little...

  • Mina N.
    9 hours

    People make fun but these kinds of myths and mysterious hold lot of secrets then are hidden from human eyes. Allah did not only created humans

  • Vishwanath S.
    11 hours

    Because of winds

  • Aquib A.
    11 hours

    I think, the stone moves when rains, by the creating water pressure the stone moves, usually when we see in rivers many stone under river moving by water pressure, same like that it happens at there, where rains and water comes from mountains with high speed and hit these stone gradually they moved,

  • Helmsleyijiin E.
    18 hours

    Wind is the key 😝

  • Kyle '.
    19 hours


  • Jhon L.
    a day

    This is how explains it.

  • Enrok M.
    a day


  • Mikedreams R.
    a day

    wind erosion. char haha

  • Aila A.
    a day

    Maybe its the movement of the earth

  • BobbyandRose J.
    a day

    B.S. just trying to come up with an explanation for something they can explain! The public has to keep confidence in their scientists!

  • Kathy B.
    2 days

    I was here years ago. A long & extremely bumpy ride! It was eerily amazing!- the travel paths of these giant stones was crazy! We thought about camping here for the night as the sun went down- there wasn't another soul around by then, but there was such a strange vibe about this place we decided to leave before it was too dark! It felt as if we're were being watched!

  • Erwin A.
    2 days


  • Elliot N.
    2 days

    legend said our ancestors used it for centuries

  • Fe V.
    2 days

    The Incredible unbelievable Performance of Nature's

  • Rao U.
    2 days

    American: its just a scientific phenomena InSubcontinent:... The vally must be haunted.. 😅🤣🤣🤣

  • Khen M.
    2 days

    Try to do a time-lapse

  • Mangoda A.
    2 days


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