A 30 mph crosswind was hitting us directly out of the Eastern High Sierra as we headed south along highway 395, travel was slow going.
Again it was our good fortune to be traveling with our Alaskan friends, Brad and Brenda.
This being their first time camping remotely in the open desert we decide to visit an area that was new to all of us.
Our destination was the Trona Pinnacles.
A barren and mysterious landscape situated at the north-east corner of San Bernardino County, sits the Searles Dry Lake and the Trona Pinnacles. This area is often referred to as “the middle of nowhere”.
The pinnacles became a National Landmark in 1968 and are located on the south end of Searles Dry Lake.
As we turned off of Hwy 178 east of Ridgecrest we could see the pinnacles in the distance. Following a potholed gravel road for 5 miles we finally arrived in a very strange and unearthly looking landscape.
And what a strange sight it was. Unlike the Mono Lake Tufas these formations are much larger and more spire like.
It felt like we had just driven onto the set of the “Lost In Space Movie”…. actually we had! Dozens of major movies have been filmed here with the pinnacles used as the backdrop.
A few miles further north on Hwy. 178 is the town of Trona. It was established in 1913 when John W. Searles and his brother Dennis first discovered the crusty dried up lake in 1862 while searching in the Panamint Mountains for gold.
The pinnacles are some of the the best examples of tufa formations found anywhere in the United States. The formations were formed underwater between 10,000 and 100,000 years ago.
Within the protected area are more than 500 spires. The porous rock formed as a deposit when bubbling springs interacted with other bodies of water.
Some are as high as 140 feet and rise sharply from the bed of Searles Dry Lake.
With no designated camping areas we could park anywhere we wanted. Most of the local roads that weave in and around the formations were narrow and steep so we just parked in the main parking lot, basically a large level gravel pad.
The Searles Valley Mineral Company, located on the north end of the dry lake, produces borax, boric acid, soda ash, soda cake and salt. They operate the Trona railway which passes near the western edge of the pinnacles.
We spent our days wandering around the pinnacles, hiking, photographing and marveling at these ancient monoliths.
In the evenings we lounged around the fire enjoying red wine, eating aged cheese, stargazing and listening to coyotes howl.
All the while the big dogs had their freedom to run around the pinnacles in the dark which they really enjoyed.
It just doesn’t get any better…
The morning we were to depart Brad awoke to find a flat tire on the rear of his motorhome. This would have not been a problem but the coach was a loaner and no jack had been supplied.
It was decided to call AAA but Brad, Brenda and I all had AT&T phones with “no service” signals. Denise came to the rescue with her 3 bars of Verizon and within 2 hours the service truck arrived.
After a quick tire repair in Ridgecrest, we were on our way again to our next destination…
Hope you enjoy our latest video “The Pinnacles Of Trona”.
We all really enjoyed this beautiful and magical location. The freedom to wander without crowds made for an enjoyable and relaxing stay.
If you are ever on your way to Death Valley and have the time don’t miss it.
Keep you posted…