Trona Pinnacles

California Desert National Conservation Area, California

Trip Date: Saturday, October 29th, 2016
Last Updated: Saturday, May 2nd, 2020
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★★★(5/5)
Overall Difficulty Easy
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 0.5 miles roundtrip
Time 30 minutes
Terrain Mostly flat
Best Seasons Spring, Fall, Winter
Family Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly Yes
Accessible No


Hike Summary

You've probably seen the iconic Trona Pinnacles before, whether in a car commercial, sci-fi movie, or most recently in Lady Gaga's video for Stupid Love. Located on U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, this site isn't developed in any sense of the word, save for one pit toilet. Braving the empty desert is worth it to see this amazing collection of tufa spires -- columns of calcium carbonate formed as a calcium-rich underground spring leaked into the alkaline ancient lake that flooded this valley. If you're planning a trip to Death Valley from Los Angeles, this is a minor detour that will greatly amplify your desert experience.

Most of the adventure takes place on the drive here as you navigate desolate desert highways to a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. You'll know you're on the right track when you see the unmistakable pinnacles rise above the barren plain in the distance, as shown in the pictures below.

The Trona Pinnacles from a distance

The Trona Pinnacles from a distance

Approaching the Trona Pinnacles

Approaching the Trona Pinnacles

Once you arrive, park wherever you please and start exploring! There are no official trails, but decades of visitors and a lack of rain means there are plenty of makeshift trails you can follow -- you can see some of these in the two pictures below. You can also drive to some of the further spires if you don't feel like hiking for miles.
Tufa spires with the Slate Range in the distance

Tufa spires with the Slate Range in the distance

A closer view of some of the Trona Pinnacles

A closer view of some of the Trona Pinnacles

Add the Trona Pinnacles to your bucket list and visit these amazing landforms in the picturesque Mojave Desert soon! Connect with me using the social media links below and share your adventures!

Important Information

The Trona Pinnacles are located on Bureau of Land Management Land (BLM), so there aren't many rules here. You can have your dog roam free, off-leash if you so desire. You can even camp right next to the pinnacles. Stopping here is a good way to punctuate the long drive to Death Valley, and the lack of regulations and amazing scenery makes this a great place to let your kids roam free for a while. It goes without saying, but avoid visiting during the scorching summers. Depending on the day of the week, you might run into someone else here, but most don't stay very long -- wait a bit if you want solitude.


From Los Angeles, take Interstate 5 north to California Highway 14 towards Palmdale. After passing through Mojave, watch for a green sign pointing to Garlock and Johannesburg, then turn right onto Redrock Randsburg Road (this turn is not well marked, so pay close attention). Turn left onto U.S. Highway 395. Watch for a green sign pointing to Trona, then turn right onto Searles Station Road. Turn left onto Trona Road, then turn right onto California Highway 178. Once on Highway 178, look for a trapezoidal BLM sign pointing to Trona Pinnacles, then turn right onto Pinnacles Road. This dirt road continues 5 miles until you reach the pinnacles and is smooth enough for any car when conditions are dry (which is almost always).

Google Maps Directions

Parking, Fees, and Facilities

Parking is free! There is a pit toilet here.

Nearby Hikes

The red and white striped cliffs of Hagen Canyon
Hagen Canyon Nature Trail
Red Rock Canyon State Park, California

External Links