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Parks & Public Lands -
This eerie, fantastic landscape is one of the most
unique geological features in the California desert.
These other-worldly shapes are the Trona Pinnacles.
Formation of the Pinnacles
During the Pleistocene Ice Ages, massive
runoff spilled from the Sierra Nevada into
a chain of "inland seas." This system of
interconnected lakes stretched from
to Death Valley and included Searles Lake.
Three Groups, Four Tufa Shapes
The Trona Pinnacles did not form all at the same time.
The pinnacles are divided by age and elevation into
three groups. The groups are dubbed the northern,
middle and southern groups because they formed during
three ice ages.
Humans at Trona Pinnacles
Items such as large, ancient spear points and atlatls (throwing sticks) suggest that humans have been here from at least 8,000 - 10,000 years ago. Bones from both the wooly mammoth and camel have been found around Searles Lake possibly indicating that early humans used the site for hunting and processing of food.
Survival in the Desert
Desert life is brutal. Organisms must endure temperatures
above 115F amd survive with under three inches of rainfall
a year. Plants such as the Desert Holly, a salt bush, clings to the basin
soils. Lichen creep along some of the pinnacles. The tufa
towers can also shelter nesting prairie falcons and
and sidewinder rattlesnakes live in the