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Playa, California

Depositional Landform Pictures


Playa (PLAH-yah) is the Spanish word for beach. In the United States it is the name for a dry lake bed. (more below)
Dry lake beds
Photo (c) 2002 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)
Playas are the resting place of fine sediment shed from the mountains around them. The playa of Dry Lake Lucerne is in the Mojave Desert of southern California, on the other side of the San Gabriel Mountains from the Los Angeles region. The mountains keep away the moisture of the Pacific Ocean, and the lake bed only holds water in unusually wet winters. The rest of the time, this is a playa. The dry parts of the world are dotted with playas. Learn more about playas.

Driving across (and upon) a playa is a heady experience for someone used to streets. A Nevada playa called the Black Rock Desert takes this geologic setting as a natural stage for free artistic and cultural expression in the Burning Man festival.

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