Almost exactly a year ago, myself, my mum, and my aunt Margaret, were travelling around Death Valley, and attempted to drive out to "The Racetrack" which we'd seen pictures of before. It's 40 miles each way over some fairly rough roads, large chunky gravel, and lots of corrugations. With the petrol tank running a bit low, (the turnoff itself is a good 40 miles from the nearest petrol as it is) and with only a skinny temporary spare, we decided that we'd rather not spend a couple of days in the desert, and turned around about 6 miles in.
This time, with just myself and mum, we were prepared. Full tank of petrol, full barrel of water, full size spare, and the time to get out there. But we didn't need to.
Partly due to washed out roads, and partly due to a desire to have a look at the other roads that lead into Death Valley, we came in through the North East entrence, past Scotty's Castle, but before we'd even reached the park entrance, we saw a great big mudflat/playa off the side of the road, and decided to go out and have a look at it. We were just expecting to see neat mud cracks and so forth, but much to our surprise came across two "racetrack" stones. They had left fairly short paths behind them in the mud at some point when the wind and water conditions were all just right, about a foot long. We quickly found more and more and more of them, some with paths as long as 100 feet, some as short as 1 foot. They squiggled, they turned left, they turned right, but above all, they were just absolutely fascinating.
The playa is very hard, and you don't leave footprints on it at all. (Cars leave tracks as they are heavy enough) which is excellent for taking pictures, you can just walk around all over the place and not worry about destroying the tracks. It also means there's no way for your brain to come up with any human interference explanation for the rocks. They simply just moved, and left gouges behind them.
So we didn't even bother driving out to the racetrack itself. Perhaps, we thought, there might be a few less car tracks on the playa, but then again, probably not, national park or not. Yippee, we saved ourselves a good few hours of driving, and found something we'd never even heard mention of before. None of the websites detailing the racetrack ever mentioned that the phenomenen had been seen on other playas. We highly recommend visiting Bonny Claire Flats.
Changing winds racetrack stones
Fish hook racetrack stone