This California Landmark Is Straight Out of Your Sci-Fi Dreams

The Trona Pinnacles act as a backdrop for over 30 films a year.

There’s an otherworldly landscape in the California desert that you’ve probably never seen in person, but possibly on the screen. They are the Trona Pinnacles, an unusual geological feature in the California Desert National Conservation Area. The distinctive spires, made of pours rock, formed underwater during three separate ice ages.

This dry bed holds “half of the natural elements known to man,” according to informational marker, including trona and pink halite. But it’s difficult to pull your eyes away from the more than 500 spindly formations that cast shadows across the basin. You may know them from films like Planet of the Apes, Star Trek V and Lost in Space.

According to Desert Sun, “A dirt road loop allows you to drive around the ‘middle group’ of pinnacles, dating back 25,000 to 32,000 years. There’s also a short walking trail through the formation. And it’s clear from beat-down paths that others have gone off toward the youngest northern group (10,000 to 25,000 years old) and oldest southern group (32,000 to 100,000 years old).

Want to see them for yourself? Check out this story here, with some useful preparation tips for the journey.