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Trona Milky Way

Terry Mclaughlin


Behind the Shot

The Trona Pinnacles are a geographical marvel in the Mojave Desert about 30 miles east of Ridgecrest, California, and about 160 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Appearing as a location in countless TV shows and movies—usually as a stand-in for remote and hostile alien worlds—Trona’s namesake tufa spires jut high above the dry lakebed of this desolate desert destination.

The pinnacles of Trona were created over the course of three different ice ages. The oldest group, called the Southern Group, is more than 100,000 years old. The youngest group, the northern group, is 10,000 to 25,000 years old. The middle group, in the heart of the Bureau of Land Management-protected park, was formed between 25,000 and 32,000 years ago.