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    Trona Pinnacles: a science fiction landscape in the California desert

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    Martí Micolau

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    I Trona Pinnacles are an authentic hidden natural wonder of California's Mojave Desert. They are practically ignored by most of the classic tours of the West Coast, but in my opinion they are one of those places that are really worth seeing with your own eyes: it is really difficult to tell the sense of estrangement that one feels when in front of oneself. to this surreal landscape.

    But let's find out where the Trona Pinnacles, how to reach them and what to expect when visiting this hidden California gem.


    • Where are?
    • How can they be reached?
    • How were they formed? Pills of geology
    • What do you need to know?
    • A natural movie set
    • Where to sleep around?

    Where are?

    As previously anticipated, i Trona Pinnacles, or rather, the Trona Pinnacles National Natural Landmark is located about 25 minutes east of the town of Ridgecrest. As we wrote in our article Where to sleep in Death Valley, this small town is a strategic point for those who go to Death Valley coming from Los Angeles or San Diego or - more frequently - for those who, from Yosemite / Sequoia, have to go to Death Valley / Las Vegas around the time Tioga Road is closed and there is no faster, more direct route from east to west or vice versa.

    In truth, this last journey is very long and it is a bit frustrating to have to travel all this way to pass the Sierra National Forest and the Sequoia National Forest: all the more reason a detour towards i Trona Pinnacles it could lift the spirits of those who find themselves on a somewhat flat and boring itinerary like this one.

    How can they be reached?

    Da Ridgecrest continue for approximately 17 miles on CA-178 E towards Death Valley. Anticipated by a useful indicating brown (we are in the desert!), You will find on the right the dirt road to travel to get to the remote area of ​​Trona Pinnacles. Don't worry: unless your car is too low, you can drive around 5 miles of rough road without risking to ruin the vehicle. Going very slowly (I recommend it ...) it takes about 20 minutes from the junction on the CA-178 E: you will understand that you have arrived when you see the pinnacles of Trona appear at any moment on the sides of the road.

    How were they formed? Pills of geology

    I Trona Pinnacles they are impressive rock towers formed mainly of calcium carbonates that were underwater thousands of years ago. To make you understand what kind of geological phenomenon we are talking about, we can mention the similar landscape of Mono Lake.

    The white ones tuff towers that emerge from the dried up bed of nearby Searles Lake are over 500 and come in various forms: you can see rounded domes, low and cracked cones, soaring pinnacles, squat and deep cavities (tombstones), crumbling arches, massive reliefs, hoodoos, mushrooms and what else your fantasy suggests. The tallest towers even reach 42 meters!

    What do you need to know?

    I Trona Pinnacles they are a bit neglected by all those who pass by, so most likely you could be the only people to visit them: you can take the opportunity to explore the area on foot, leaving the car on the road. A single recommendation: do not stray too far from your vehicle, because not all paths are adequately beaten and above all ... It's really hot! In fact, you will find yourself in an arid and depressed desert area: bring plenty of water if you want to spend some time there.

    If you are afraid of suffering from the heat, you can wander around this impressive and mystical circle of white rock giants only with your car: you will also find singular solitary formations to surround in the car to enjoy the details from every possible point of view.

    The entrance to the Trona Pinnacles is gratuitous, but you won't find a Visitor Center to turn to just in case.

    A natural movie set

    As you may have guessed from the photos and as I hope you will see with your own eyes, the surreal scenery of Trona Pinnacles it is truly extraterrestrial: you will feel like you are on another planet. This is not just an easy way of saying: due to the peculiar geological conformation of this desert, many science fiction film, television series and commercials: the most famous films are Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek V, Disney's Dinosaur, Lost in Space and Planet of the Apes.


    If you like these landscapes so linked to sci-fi cinema and more, don't miss Vasquez Rocks, near Los Angeles, the aforementioned Mono Lake, Zabriskie Point in Death Valley, the Alabama Hills in Lone Pine (California) and who knows. how many others do I forget.

    Where to sleep around?

    If you're the da campground you can pitch your tent in designated areas and enjoy the spectacle of the night sky between the pinnacles, but perhaps the best solution is to find accommodation in the nearby town of Ridgecrest.

    All accommodations available in Ridgecrest

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