Southwest Adventure, Living & Travel

Trona, CA

The Searles Valley

Overview| Where to Stay | Things To Do | History | Nearby Resources

Vital Statistics

Location / Description

Trona is located in the Searles Valley on Hwy 178 in the Greater Mojave Desert and has valley views of the Slate and Argus Mountains. Trona is home to Searles Lake playa. Searles Lake is one of a chain of pleistocene lakes which were formed during the Ice Ages. The dry lake bed contains a plethora of sodium and potassium minerals of the carbonate, sulfate, borate and halide classes, due to long sedimentation and evaporation processes which occurred over a period of about 150,000 years.

The dry lake also contains the Trona Pinnacles National Natural Landmark which consists of more then 500 tufa spires. Trona Pinnacles has been the site of many movies and commercials because of its prehistoric mystical appeal. Star Trek 5, Tim Burton's Planet Of the Apes, and Disney's Dinosaur all contain scenes filmed at the Trona Pinnacles tufas.

trona pinnacles

The Trona area offers hiking and sightseeing, or viewing historical sites around town such as the History House (one of the oldest residential houses in Trona) built around 1920. You can also go see the Trona Railway Museum and Caboose, the Old Guest House Museum, and the 1924 Struz Fire Truck and 1938 Ahrens-Fox Fire Truck, both housed at the Argus Fire Station.

Trona can be a starting location for those that plan on seeing some of the other points of interest that Searles Valley has to offer, with gas, food and lodging available in town.

ANNUAL GEM-O-RAMA October - Sponsored by the Searles Lake Gem & Mineral Society

Video on the Trona Pinnacles

Population / Elevation

Population 1885 as of 2001 census Elev 1675

Weather / Climate

The climate is characterized by hot days and cool nights, with extreme arid conditions prevailing throughout the summer months.

 Trona, California - Monthly Climate Normals
   Year  Jan  Feb  Mar  Apr  May  Jun  Jul  Aug  Sep  Oct  Nov  Dec
 High °F
 65  71
 88  98
 103  95
 69  58
 Low °F
 37  43
 58  66
 72  64
 40  32
.23 .17



There are hotels and motels in Ridgecrest, with something for every taste and price range. For more information and a complete list. Click Here. (Rates, availability and reservation online)

Camping & RV Parks

Death Valley National Park: There are 9 campgrounds within Death Valley NP.

Trona offers many services to visitors and residents alike

Lodging : Pinnacle Inn which also has dining
Dining: Pinnacle Inn, Finish Line, Trails Drive Inn, Deb's Fine Dining
Gas: Texaco (which also has a store)
Rest area resides inside the town of Trona which offers modern facilities, tables, water, trash collection.


In 1862 John W. Searles discovered Borax on the dry barren surface of Searles Lake while prospecting for gold and silver with three other people in the slate mountain range. But his discovery went unrecognized.

After seeing Francis (Borax) Smith's operation of Borax recovery in Nevada in 1872, Mr. Searles realized the value of what he had discovered at Searles Lake. In 1873 John W. Searles staked a claim to 640 acres of lake and formed The San Bernardino Borax Mining Company. Mules were used to haul the Borax to San Pedro.

In 1897 soon after John Searles' death The San Bernardino Borax Mining Company was sold to Pacific Borax Company which was owned by Francis (Borax) Smith. Pacific Borax shut down the Searles Lake operation.

Searles Lake and Trona have seen many changes.

In 1914 Trona Railway Company completed 31 miles of track to Trona from the Searles Station junction with the Southern Pacific Railroad. American Trona Corp. established the company owned town of Trona.

A main residential street existed for a while, called "Tent City" because of the tent type houses that the residents lived in back then. Around 1916 a few houses were built for the upper management employees and their families. Some of these houses are still standing and some are still being lived in on Panamint and Magnolia streets. The History House, which is open to the public at 83001 Panamint St., is one of the first houses built in Trona.

Today one of Trona's main sources of income is still mining operations. On March 18, 2004, all operations of IMC Chemicals were sold to Sun Capital Investments and the operations in Searles Valley was renamed "Searles Valley Minerals, Inc." The small desert town of Trona holds a lot of history and offers modern living at an affordable price. Over the years not only has Trona preserved its history, it has also grown and changed with the times.

Things To Do
  • ANNUAL GEM-O-RAMA October  Sponsored by the Searles Lake Gem & Mineral Society
  • Salt Wells Canyon - Commonly called "Poison Canyon." This canyon was the route of the 20-mule teams that hauled borax from Searles Lake to San Pedro. On the north side of the canyon near the east end is "Fish Head Rocks". Originally called "Whale Heads."
  • Old Guest House Museum
  • History House, Caboose and Trona Railway Museum
  • Trona Pinnacles National Natural Landmark
    Located 12 miles south of Trona on Hwy 178.

Resources & Nearby Attractions


Cities & Towns

  • Barstow, California: 110 miles southeast.
  • Inyokern, California: 42 miles west.
  • Bishop, California: 130 miles north.
  • Big Pine, California: 115 miles north.
  • Lone Pine, California: 80 miles north.

Parks & Monuments

Wilderness & Recreation Areas

Historic & Points of Interest


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