Playas are dry lake beds--however, they occasionally flood to become shallow lakes. Playas are generally covered in fine-grained material that may or may not display mudcracks. Playas may also contain evaporite minerals such as salt or gypsum.

Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park.
Note the alluvial fan which trails out onto the playa. Note also the outcrop near the playa's center.

Playa "scraper" on Racetrack Playa.


Small lake in Washington state.  The white ring consists of evaporite minerals that precipitate as the lake dries.

Deep Springs Lake, eastern California.  As the lake dries, it leaves behind evaporites.  Springs issue from a fault zone near the bottom of the photo.

Death Valley Salt Pan


Fractured salt and Black Mountain rangefront

Polygonal fractures in salt


Death Valley salt pan, flooded with water.

Aerial view of salt pan

Click here for more views of the salt pan in Death Valley, California.

Click here to see evaporite deposits in the Triassic Moenkopi Fm. of southeastern Utah.