The Trona Pinnacles are a collection of tufa spires standing in Searles Dry Lake, an isolated region of Eastern California near Death Valley. The formation was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1968. Formed between 10,000 and 100,000 years ago when the area was one of a chain of inland seas stretching from Mono Lake to Death Valley, the tufa spires were created when calcium-rich groundwater springs surfaced into the alkaline lake water, then settled, forming tufa towers. Now the area is known as an extinct inland sea; the towers, however, jut out of the otherwise flat basin, creating a unique landscape that has been featured in numerous films, television shows, and commercials.
Standing up to 140 feet high, there are three distinct areas of tufa - each created during a different geological era - with more than 500 tufa in total. A half-mile hiking trail leads though some of the core area of the tufa, and designated "roads" that are suitable for high-clearance vehicles encircle many of the larger formations.
Reachable by a dirt road that is usually passable for two-wheel drive vehicles, the Trona Pinnacles see relatively little traffic. The visitor traffic that does filter in is usually distributed throughout this vast and otherwordly landscape, so it easy to find yourself secluded among these unique formations. The remote location also makes this area a great choice for observing the night sky.
Lying several miles down a dirt road from the nearest paved access point, the Trona Pinnacles have no on-site amenities aside from several picnic benches and a vault toilet. Though typically accessible to passenger vehicles, the dirt road to the pinnacles may be closed following a heavy rain.