John and Dennis Searles discovered borax in the lake in 1863 and saline production started about 10 years later. This approximately 12 square mile area, once a lush tropical lake is now a mix of mud and sand to the northeast of the Trona Pinnacles Trail. It now contains salt crystals; potassium salt, boric acid, borax, lithium carbonate and bicarbonate all in near pure form. There is a processing plant you can see from afar in the town of Trona. Trona is the name of a mineral that consists of sodium carbonate and bicarbonate. The wagon route used by the Searles brothers to transport the borax to the railroad in Mojave is now the route of the current railroad.
In 1986 Trona Pinnacles were designated as a National Natural Landmark. This area has been the backdrop for many movies, including Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Dinosaur, and Pitch Black as well as the 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes. Commerical and music videos are also a popular filming location, with projects that include Rihanna, and a Christian Dior commercial featuring Charize Theron. It is made up of “other worldly” spires and rocky pinnacles. As you travel down this packed dirt road, you can see the pinnacles a few miles down the road. There are some fun trails around the pinnacles to explore as well as rustic camping opportunities.