Death Valley Sailing Stones Mystery

Death Valley National Park was established in 1994, and is located in Southern California and Nevada. Deserts, salt-flats, valleys, canyons and mountains fill the park, making it a diverse, if hot and dry environment. The national park earned its name for the dry, inhospitable land settlers and miners encountered as they came west looking for gold. Despite how bleak Death Valley may appear on the surface, it is home to a variety of plants and animals including big horn sheep, mountain lions, and exotic butterflies.

Death Valley is also host to strange and intriguing oddities. Abandoned gold rush ghost towns may appeal to the historically inclined, but the sailing stones are a whole different puzzle that had many stumped for years.

The Death Valley sailing stones are boulders that sit on the desert floor. Behind them are trails gouged into the dirt as if the stones have been dragged along the ground. The stones were discovered in the early 1900’s, and since then, they have been a source of fascination, for the stones appear to move on their own.

So what causes the sailing stones’ mysterious movements? People and animals were quickly ruled out, for there were no traces of tampering around the stones. Many different studies and experiments were preformed, and theories ranged from dust devils and ice to the more absurd aliens and magic. While it is clear that the rocks do move, the movements themselves have never been recorded.

Eventually, the most plausible theory emerged. Scientists concluded that the stones are encased in ice during winter, and a combination of muddy slush and wind send the rocks sliding across the ground, leaving behind their distinctive trails. Even though the mystery is probably solved, the sailing stones remain a source of fascination to visitors of Death Valley National Park.


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