is no official parking near the ridge. The ridge extends west from
the start of Artists Drive, so traffic will be heavier than on the
open road. Be sure to park off the pavement before walking out to
examine the ventifacts.
As with all locations in National Parks, everything is
protected, so leave it as you found it.
Ventifacts are rocks that have been eroded by wind-blown sand or
ice. Typically ventifacts are found in arid environments with
frequent high winds and a steady supply of sand, but not too much.
The high winds pick up very fine-grained sand and silt particles
blasting them against the boulders on the ground. The result are
boulders that have small parallel grooves on roughly planar
surfaces. These planar surfaces look similar to the pitted surface
of sea glass (a cloudy dull shine).
Most of the boulders on the ridge are basalt that already
contain vesicles (air pockets frozen into the rock as it cooled
from lava). Be careful not to confuse the vesicles with grooves.
Freshly exposed vesicles will circular and not have any linear
features to them. Vesicles that have been sand blasted will be
elongated and even merged with adjoining vesicles.
In Death Valley, strong winds blowing up and down the valley are
common. The multiple alluvial fans emanating from the surrounding
mountains provide a constant, but not overwhelming source of sand
and silt. This ridge rises up just a short ways from the valley
floor placing the boulders in the path of the wind.
Send me a note with :
- The text "GC2V3C5 Ventifact Ridge Death Valley" on the first
- The number (including non-cachers) and names of the geocachers
in your group.
- Examine 5 boulders and determine which side (compass direction)
has the cloudy dull shine. Do not move the rocks in your
- Compare the relative amount of erosion (sand blasting) on the
boulders on the north, south, and crest of the ridge. .
The following sources were used to generate this
- Sharp, Robert P. and Allen F. Glazner, Geology
Underfoot in Death Valley and Owens Valley, Mountain Press
Publishing Company, Missoula , Montana, 1997