Travelers leave tea kettles in a remote part of Death Valley as part of a mysterious, decades-old tradition.
About 20 miles down a bumpy, unimproved road in the Mojave Desert is a strange shrine of sorts. There, in a patch of earth known for its boiling temperatures, you’ll find a sign covered in kettles of all sizes, shapes, and colors that marks an intersection as “Teakettle Junction.”
The kettles contain messages from visitors around the world in several different languages. Some teapots even have letters tucked safely inside, waiting to be pried out by curious travelers. According to a longstanding tradition, it’s good luck to leave a kettle and take one of the previous offerings home with you.
No one knows how or why this otherwise nondescript intersection became such a strange shrine to one of the world’s most beloved beverages. Some people theorize that the association with tea began as a way to signal to early visitors that there was a source of water nearby.
Checking out Teakettle Junction is a fun, quirky stop for those passing through Death Valley National Park while on the road to Racetrack Playa, the home to mysteriously moving stones. Be sure to bring a kettle to leave your own mark at this secret desert shrine.
Know Before You Go
Teakettle Junction is 20 miles down Racetrack Valley Road, an unimproved road in Death Valley National Park. Good tires, a 4x4, and high clearance are usually required to traverse the road; the park service recommends against using standard rental cars.
Death Valley is extremely arid and one of the hottest places on Earth, so make sure to bring plenty of water. Cell service is unavailable in the area.
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