With directions like these, you know it’s got to be a neat place: Starting from Furnace Creek in Death Valley, head toward Stovepipe Wells. Turn right to take the road to Scotty’s Castle. Turn left toward Ubehebe Crater.
At Ubehebe Crater, turn right to take the road to the Racetrack. Continue for 21 miles until you reach Teakettle Junction. At Teakettle Junction, stop, take a break from the washboard road, check your phone for messages, and make any last minute calls. If you happen to be traveling with a teakettle, hang it on the sign. Then continue for another six miles to the Racetrack Playa. When you arrive, stop at the Grandstand, then continue to the south end of the playa where you will find the moving rocks.
I love the names of the places in Death Valley. On this drive to the Racetrack, you get to encounter several of these places. At 190 feet below sea level and with summer temperatures that routinely exceed 120 degrees, Furnace Creek is aptly named. I’ve written about Scotty’s Castle and Ubehebe Crater before too. Ubehebe Crater is the perfect name for that intriguing feature of the landscape.
Teakettle Junction is an interesting place. Look at all those teakettles people have hung there! People usually write something on their teakettle and include the date. All the dates I saw were from 2015, and the park service obviously gathers them periodically and clears them away. That does cause me to wonder what they do with all those teakettles!
Teakettle Junction is also interesting because it is one of the few places in Death Valley where there is cell coverage. I don’t know if it’s the elevation or the direction of the nearest tower or what, but out there at Teakettle Junction, literally miles from anything (and there usually isn’t cell coverage there either), you can make calls and check messages!
The drive out to the Racetrack is really a lot of fun. You get to go to this amazing place in the backcountry of Death Valley. You have to drive on a primitive road where high clearance and 4x4 vehicles are recommended. The 27 miles on the primitive road is a little grueling. It is completely a washboard. Some areas are not that bad, but by the time you get to Teakettle Junction, you really do need a break from it. And then you still have six miles to go!
The drive is well worth it, however. The Racetrack is one of the most amazing places I have seen, and I would love to make that trip again some time.