U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
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Trona Pinnacles
Geologic Sightseeing > Trona Pinnacles (CA) 
Location
20 miles east of Ridgecrest, California.
 
Description
The Trona Pinnacles are some of the most unique geological features in the California Desert Conservation Area. The unusual landscape consists of more than 500 tufa spires, some as high as 140 feet, rising from the bed of the Searles Dry Lake basin. The pinnacles vary in size and shape from short and squat to tall and thin, and are composed primarily of spongy calcium carbonate (tufa). The Trona Pinnacles have been featured in many commercials, films, and still-photo shoots. A 0.5-mile hiking trail leads into the heart of the pinnacles for a close-up view of the spires and the surrounding desert.
 
Directions
From Ridgecrest, travel 20 miles east on State Highway 178 to its intersection with Trona-Red Mountain Road. Continue east on State Highway 178 for 7.7 more miles, and turn south on BLM Road RM 143. Take this dirt road for 5 miles to the site.
 
Visitor Activities
Geologic sightseeing, hiking, picnicking, and mountain biking (on existing routes only).
 
Special Features
The spires were formed underwater from 10,000–100,000 years ago when Searles Lake was one of a chain of interconnected Pleistocene lakes stretching from Mono Lake to Death Valley. Today, the pinnacles are about 2,000 feet above sea level in the western Mojave Desert.
 
Permits, Fees, Limitations
Motor vehicles and bikes are allowed only on designated routes or trails to protect the area’s fragile natural resources.
 
Accessibility
None.
 
Camping and Lodging
Primitive camping is permitted; there are no developed sites. Lodging is available in Ridgecrest.
 
Food and Supplies
Food and supplies are available in Ridgecrest.
 
First Aid
The nearest hospital or source of assistance is Ridgecrest.
 
Additional Information
The site is open year-round; the best times to visit are fall, winter, and early spring. Early morning, early evening, and nights with a full moon provide the most dramatic views. Good hiking or walking shoes are recommended. The 5-mile-long dirt access road is usually accessible by passenger vehicle; following a rain, however, the road may be impassable to all vehicle, including those with four-wheel drive.
 
Contact Information
BLM - Ridgecrest Field Office
300 South Richmond Road
Ridgecrest, CA 93555
Tel: (760) 384-5400               

Trona Pinnacles Webpage

Trona Pinnacles Map


Tufa Spires at Trona Pinnacles

Ancient tufa spires create an eerie desert “moonscape” that attracts sightseers and filmmakers alike to the Trona Pinnacles. (BLM)
 

 
Last updated: 10-23-2009