Trona Pinnacles is approximately 3 hours from our home base in LA so we thought it was the perfect spot for a day mission to get out and explore.
The drive up to Trona is split into two parts. The first part is a 2 hour straight shot up Hwy 395. This is followed by a dirt road comprised of about 25 miles of ruts, whoops and sandy sections. In the winter months this area can get muddy but it was 108 degrees out so we were happy to be cruising along at a steady 25-30 mph all the way through. Our Fox 2.0’s soaked up the terrain and didn’t show any signs of fatigue despite the heat.
When you arrive at the pinnacles you are greeted with calcium carbonate “tufa towers” numbering in the hundreds all varying in shapes and sizes. In this barren stretch of land these spires seem to rise from the earth in an otherworldly display that has been featured in many movies and TV shows. The entire area sits on BLM land and there is dispersed camping and fire pits throughout. Pro-Tip: be sure to bring an ez-up or some kind of shade and plenty of extra water as there is nowhere to hide from the blistering sun.
For this particular trip we decided to show up mid-week and a few days after the new moon in order to avoid any potential crowds of people. This was a great choice as we only saw one other car the entire day and were left completely undisturbed. We spent most of the afternoon exploring the area and then returning to the Jeep for a quick blast of AC. It was when the sun began to set that the Pinnacles really came to life.
The sun setting over the towers provided deep shadows and contrast for incredible perspectives and photos. The sun seems to play with the towers, peeking and dancing around the formations with endless possibilities. As the light changed and we rounded each bend or climbed over a ridge we were continuously in awe of the landscape.
After the sun set behind the hills, we were rewarded with an hour of twilight and a colorful night sky that receded into total darkness. Stars began to appear and we took this opportunity to cook dinner and wait for the Milky Way to rise. The wind was blowing steadily at this point and there was a dusty haze in the air that added to the mystery of the place.
As soon as the Milky Way was visible we couldn’t stop snapping photos. It’s as if there is no limitation to the scenery and every photo seemed better than the last. We stayed for a couple hours and though we planned on staying the night, we ultimately decided it was too hot and windy to set up the tent.
We were close enough to head home and sleep in our beds, so we set back out on the dirt road leaving the towers behind. Our headlights were the only thing guiding the way. As soon as we hit the highway my passenger was lulled to sleep by the smooth ride and dull drone of the mud tires.