Trona Pinnacles & Panamint Sand Dunes

From the site:

The Trona Pinnacles are located approximately 20.0 miles east of Ridgecrest. Access to the site is from a BLM dirt road (RM143) that leaves SR 178, about 7.7 miles east of the intersection of SR 178 and the Trona-Red Mountain Road. The 5.0-mile long dirt road from SR 178 to the Pinnacles is usually accessible to 2-wheel drive vehicles, however, the road may be closed during the winter months after a heavy rain

The Trona Pinnacles are some of the most unique geological features in the California Desert Conservation Area. The unusual landscape consists of more than 500 tufa spires, some as high as 140 feet, rising from the bed of the Searles Dry Lake basin. The pinnacles vary in size and shape from short and squat to tall and thin, and are composed primarily of calcium carbonate (tufa). The Trona Pinnacles have been featured in many commercials, films, and still-photo shoots.

See also the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) site:

I drove to the pinnacles on a very quick day trip from Ridgecrest, CA to Death Valley.  Needless to say, I will have to return to explore further.  I visited on December 10, 2015 because the cool weather promised me a bit safer trip than one in warmer weather.  I travelled alone, although after doing so I would not recommend this. It is quite a barren place, and in light of all that could go wrong, including mechanical issues with vehicles, its better to be safe.  I  carried a back pack full of water and warm blankets in my car as a matter of routine in an environment like this.

That said, GO GO GO!!  It is a beautiful, eerie spectacle that should be seen and understood by any geo hike junkie.  It’s worth the long drive! I cant wait to go back.


Panamint Sand Dunes

From the Death Valley NPS website::

Panamint Sand Dunes
Travelers crossing Panamint Valley on Hwy.190 may view these dunes as a distant, pale smudge to the north. Those wanting a closer look must drive 5 miles down the unmarked dirt road leading past Lake Hill, then hike cross-country 3 miles. The other dunes of Death Valley are all situated on flat valley floors, but these are perched on a slope. The view from the summit of these dunes reveals their star shape and an impressive view down the valley. Sand boarding is prohibited on these dunes.

A small parking lot located off Highway 190 one mile east of the junction offers a great starting point for a hike out to the dunes. I just loved walking the 4 miles to the base of the larger dune.  As many will tell you, stop and look back to the vastness of the desert around you. The colors of the surrounding mountains, and rocks at your feet are incredible. Definitely one of my favorite days yet.

See ProTrails for a much more detailed explanation of this wonderful but desolate spot to visit.



For a map of my day trip see RoadTrippers/Caro Garcia.


About Caro

I am a social worker by training and a peace officer by profession having worked with California’s delinquent youth and young adults for 28 years. I firmly believe that our development as humans depends on our environment and that sometimes we get stuck. As such, I write about those things we sometimes ignore or fail to see until we are forced to pay attention.
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