Red Rock Canyon State Park

California, United States
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 (12 votes, 12 reviews)
Red Rock Canyon State Park features scenic desert cliffs, buttes and spectacular rock formations. The park is located where the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada converge with the El Paso Range. Each tributary canyon is unique, with dramatic shapes and vivid colors.

Historically, the area was once home to the Kawaiisu Indians, who left petroglyphs in the El Paso mountains and other evidence of their inhabitation. The spectacular gash situated at the western edge of the El Paso mountain range was on the Native American trade route for thousands of years. During the early 1870s, the colorful rock formations in the park served as landmarks for 20-mule team freight wagons that stopped for water. About 1850, it was used by the footsore survivors of the famous Death Valley trek including members of the Arcane and Bennett families along with some of the Illinois Jayhawkers. The park now protects significant paleontology sites and the remains of 1890s-era mining operations, and has been the site for a number of movies.

After wet winters, the park's floral displays are stunning. This winter was very dry so the wildflowers should be sparse this year, but the beauty of the desert, combined with the geologic features make this park a camper's favorite destination. Wildlife you may encounter includes roadrunners, hawks, lizards, mice and squirrels.
Getting There
The park is 25 miles northeast of Mojave on Highway 14, near Cantil. Go west 1/4 mile on Abbott Drive. Signage indicating the turnoff is clearly visible on Highway 14.

The park is 120 miles north of Los Angeles, via Interstate 5 and Highway 14.

The Day Use Annual Pass is accepted at this park.
Operating Hours
The park is open sunrise-sunset for day-use. The campground is open 24-hours.

The Visitor Center is open Friday-Sunday; hours vary.

Guided nature hikes and campfire programs are offered during the spring and fall. For current event schedules, visit the Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association website.

Currently there is no phone number directly to the park. For information call:
Mojave Sector Office
661-946-6092
Camping
Camping in developed sites only in Ricardo Campground. The campground is tucked up against the base of dramatic desert cliffs, with 50 primitive campsites, potable water, pit toilets, fire rings, and tables. Bring your own firewood, or purchase it from a ranger or at the visitor center. There are no RV hook-ups or showers. A maximum of 8 people is allowed per site (there are no group sites).

Camping is first-come, first served; there is no reservation system. The campground can fill up on weekends in the spring and fall, especially if the weather is nice or on holiday weekends, so arriving on a Thursday evening or Friday morning is recommended.

Camping is $25 per night per site, which includes parking for one vehicle per site, or $23 per night with seniors (62 years old or older). Additional vehicles are $6 each. There is a 30 foot maximum on RVs. Self-registration/payment is required before setting up camp or parking. Vehicles (including OHV) must be parked within the rock lined areas provided at each campsite. No horses or livestock allowed in the campground. Quiet hours are 10 pm to 6 am; generators must be off from 8 pm to 10 am.

The day-use parking area, open sunrise to sunset, is $6 per vehicle per day. Overnight parking in the day-use lot is not permitted.

Max Camper Length: 30 Feet
Max Trailer Length: 30 Feet
Activities
Day-Use
Miles of trails meander through the dramatic landscape of the park, and hiking is an intimate way to experience the desert. Use desert safety precautions- bring twice as much water as you think you need, and layered clothing for sudden fluctuations in temperature.

Equestrian Use
Horses are allowed on all roads in the park, with the exception of seasonally closed areas (see side bar). Horses are not allowed in the campgrounds, however equestrian day use out from the Red Cliffs parking area is still allowed, but no overnight camping.

Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation
All licensed vehicles (street legal and OHV with green stickers) may travel on the primitive (dirt) road system within the park. All drivers of vehicles (street legal and OHVs) within the park must be licensed, with the exception of Cantil Wash and the frontage road south of Cantil Wash, which are open to unlicensed operators of OHV green sticker vehicles when accompanied by a parent or guardian. Please watch for Closed Route signs and check maps for open routes (please do not create new routes). Drinking and driving laws apply both on the paved and primitive dirt roads.
Tips & Rules
•First-come, first-served camping.
•The Visitor Center is closed during the winter and summer months.
•Guided nature hikes and campfire programs are offered during the spring and fall.
•All plant, animal, natural and cultural features are protected. Collection is prohibited without a permit.
•Bicycle riders must stay on all improved and primitive roads; off-roading is not allowed.
•Shooting and hunting, or possession of firearms or any explosive device is not permitted.
•Dogs must remain on a 6-foot maximum leash and be accompanied by a person at all times. Dogs are not allowed on established trails. They must be cleaned up after and cannot be left unattended.
•Fires are only allowed in provided metal fire rings in the campground. Please do not make rock fire rings or import metal fire rings anywhere in the park.
Accessible Features
Camping: A small campground includes two campsites designated accessible that are usable. One provides an accessibly designed picnic table, but assistance may be needed with water spigots or with fire grill locations. Wet weather may limit usability. Restrooms: Vault (no-flush) toilet rooms are mostly accessible. Parking: An adjacent lot at the Visitor Center includes two van accessible spaces that visitors with disabilities may use for campground or for Visitor Center. Route of travel. The routes from campsites to restrooms to parking are usable in dry weather.

Campfire Center: There are three open spaces designated for wheelchair seating. Nearby parking is accessible, but assistance may be needed with slopes on path of travel from parking to the campfire center.

Red Rock Visitor Center: Entry door may require some assistance. Patio surrounding visitor center is extended and accessible. Restrooms: Exterior restrooms are generally accessible. Parking: Accessible parking is available.

Trails

Summary
Difficulty
Distance
Nightmare Gulch Loop - Red Rock Canyon State Park
Nightmare Gulch is a colorful and highly scenic canyon and is a must see cross-country route in Red Rock State Park.
Moderate
8.8 mi/
14.2 km
Opal Canyon OHV Trail
Red Rock Canyon State Park
n/a
8.3 mi/
13.4 km
Red Cliffs Trail
Red Rock Canyon State Park
n/a
0.7 mi/
1.1 km
Hagen Trail
Red Rock Canyon State Park
n/a
1.3 mi/
2.1 km
Guides
Hagen Trail
Hagen Trail
Red Rock Canyon State Park, California, United States
 
Red Rock Canyon State Park
Red Cliffs Trail
Red Cliffs Trail
Red Rock Canyon State Park, California, United States
 
Red Rock Canyon State Park
Opal Canyon OHV Trail
Opal Canyon OHV Trail
Red Rock Canyon State Park, California, United States
Red Rock Canyon State Park
Nightmare Gulch Loop - Red Rock Canyon State Park
Nightmare Gulch Loop - Red Rock Canyon State Park
Red Rock Canyon State Park, California, United States
Moderate: 8.8 miles, Full day
Nightmare Gulch is a colorful and highly scenic canyon and is a must see cross-country route in Red Rock State Park.
Community Trips
2011 October 9 Nightmare Gulch 020.jpg Photo
2011 October 9 Nightmare Gulch 067.jpg Photo
2011 October 9 Nightmare Gulch 097.jpg Photo
2011 October 9 Nightmare Gulch 109.jpg Photo
Nightmare Gulch
by HorsingRound on Oct 09, 2011
Cal City, California, United States
10.5 miles
It's alway fun to ride up Nightmare Gulch, especially during the first two weeks of the month when motorized vehicles are not allowed.  No one is allowed in the gulch between Feb. 1 and July 1.  The best time to go is when it's not too cold and not too hot--and when it's not raining.10.83 miles on my GPS receiver3:16 moving time
8/27/11 Last Chance Canyon and Nightmare Gulch
by yomondo on Aug 27, 2011
Mojave Desert, California, United States
12.9 miles
The first half of this track is the Last Chance Canyon trail. The second half is the Nightmare Gulch trail, which starts at the waypoint labeled "NtmareGulch 01". The turnoff towards Nightmare Gulch on the left, just past Cudahy Camp, but if you want to do the Last Chance Canyon hill climb, you'll need to pass this turnoff, continue on Last Chance Canyon Road for a bit to get to the hill...
Trailhead (Ricardo, California, United States) Photo
Joshua Tree (Ricardo, California, United States) Photo
Dry Creekbed (Ricardo, California, United States) Photo
Moonscape (Ricardo, California, United States) Photo
Red Rock Canyon
by iHayley on Jun 25, 2009
Ricardo, California, United States
4.7 miles
Red Rock is a state park in south-central California near China Lake.  I got a small bit of time off while working, and took advantage of the chance to squeeze in some hiking.  I chose this place because it was the closest park to where I was working, but I think I uncovered a real gem.  I hiked the trail, but it would be a great place for mountain biking as well....
Sandstone Cliffs Photo
Sandstone curtains Photo
Shadows highlighting the cliffs. Photo
Fire engine red capstone over soft, white mudstone.  Photo
Red Rock Canyon Hagen Trail
by VZIMMER on Nov 30, 2010
Ricardo, California, United States
1.3 miles
The Hagen Trail at Red Rock Canyon State Park travels past red-stained sandstone curtains, rock windows, and desert cliffs.  Well over 100 movies have been filmed in Red Rock Canyon State Park, including westerns such as Zorro Rides Again, The Big Country,  and Law and Order starring Ronald Reagan, as well as other hits such as The Ten Commandments, Jurassic Park, and Beneath the Planet of the Apes.Although the main trail is...
Red Cliffs with small normal fault or slump. Photo
Look at the white rock band in center: the right side is offset downward.  This is an example of a slump, or a normal fault. Photo
Slump visible in cliff with boulders below. Photo
Volcanic Ash Photo
Red Cliffs Trail at Red Rock Canyon State Park
by VZIMMER on Nov 27, 2010
Ricardo, California, United States
1.0 miles
The Red Cliffs Trail at Red Rock Canyon State Park travels past reddish color cliffs comprising sandstone, mudstone, and some volcanic rocks.  Evidence of slumping, or possibly faulting, is seen in this cliff formation, which makes it an excellent place to see geology in action.  Although the main trail is only 0.75 miles long, there are several pleasant unofficial trails and washes nearby.   It is possible to spend several hours in...
Checking out the desert Photo
Rough Road Photo
Desert View Photo
Desert Views Photo
Red Rock Canyon OHV Opal Canyon Trail in a Subaru
by VZIMMER on Nov 30, 2010
Ricardo, California, United States
8.3 miles
Red Rock Canyon State Park contains over 30 miles of 4WD back roads traversing the scenic desert terrain.   A good map is needed and the visitor center gives out free rough maps showing the trails, dirt roads, 4WD roads, and serious 4WD roads.  The Opal Canyon Trail is considered to be a dirt road, e.g. one of the best roads out here.  It was challenging in a Subaru, but accesses beautiful terrain...
Nightmare Gulch 10-9-2011 003.JPG Photo
Nightmare Gulch 10-9-2011 004.JPG Photo
Nightmare Gulch 10-9-2011 005.JPG Photo
Nightmare Gulch 10-9-2011 006.JPG Photo
Nightmare Gulch
by johnsonjames on Oct 09, 2011
Ricardo, California, United States
10.8 miles
Nice ride through Nightmare Gulch.  Wonderful rock formations.  Not too difficult for our fat lazy horses except for a section that climbs about mid-way through the loop.
2014-02-02 13-47-13 1095 CA Red Rock Canyon State Park Hagen Canyon Walk.JPG Photo
2014-02-02 13-47-19 1097 CA Red Rock Canyon State Park Hagen Canyon Walk.JPG Photo
2014-02-02 13-47-24 1098 CA Red Rock Canyon State Park Hagen Canyon Walk.JPG Photo
2014-02-02 13-47-32 1100 CA Red Rock Canyon State Park Hagen Canyon Walk.JPG Photo
2014 02 02 CA Red Rock Canyon State Park Hagen Canyon and Red Cliffs Walk
by BrianKatrinaHiggins on Feb 02, 2014
Red Rock Canyon State Park, CA, USA
1.8 miles
These are two short nature trail walks in Red Rock Canyon State Recreation Area.  They are good for a break if you are driving by.  We were driving home via Highway 58 and they are only 20 minutes out of the way.  We went to see the visitor's center, but it was closed even though it was a Sunday.Both walks have big parking lots right off the main highway and are short...
1/23/10 Opal Canyon to Nightmare Gulch
by yomondo on Jan 23, 2010
Ricardo, California, United States
10.8 miles
1/29/11 Opal Canyon to Nightmare Gulch
by yomondo on Jan 29, 2011
Red Rock Canyon State Park, California, United States
11.0 miles

Reviews
Moniquetellez1
Turtleheads Peak, very challenging, but nice burn :-) :-) :-)
Visited on Jul 09, 2013

by Moniquetellez1 on Aug 15, 2013
Nylonsandwichbelts
this is celestial location
Visited on Apr 07, 2013

by Nylonsandwichbelts on Mar 27, 2014
Clannwoods
Started at Willow Springs and took the White Rock Trail. Very rocky path, and mostly a walk most of the way, but beautiful in the back trail. Several opportunities to go off trail, and a nice scramble area near the peak rock about a mile out from White Rock. 6+ miles, mostly moderate due to rocky paths.
Visited on Mar 29, 2013

by Clannwoods on Mar 31, 2013
patrick.lockett
Amazing trails, great way to spend a day out of the city.
Visited on Jan 03, 2013

by patrick.lockett on Jan 07, 2013
fitnessequipments
i just would like to go again
Visited on May 06, 2012

by fitnessequipments on May 20, 2014
NVKelli
The hiking is beautiful
Visited on Apr 15, 2012

by NVKelli on Apr 17, 2012
Nyloncoretransmissionbelting
Red Rock Canyon State Park is fantasticc place
Visited on Feb 02, 2012

by Nyloncoretransmissionbelting on Mar 27, 2014
fanna
Stunning views! Plan ahead and bring a camera and binoculars. Hit the trail early so you don't have to rush back like I did!
Visited on Jan 23, 2011

by fanna on Feb 06, 2011
VZIMMER
I had a wonderful time. Ranger Matt Williams + the visitor center staff were extremely friendly and knowledgeable. Ask questions - they know, and they even have extra videos of the flood and other stuff.

Be sure to look around at the details of this place - they can be overlooked, but once you notice the rocks, critters, and plants, you'll see the park's gems.

Visited on Nov 30, 2010

by VZIMMER on Dec 16, 2010
multigymequip
Very Nice Place darling it
Visited on Mar 04, 2009

by multigymequip on May 20, 2014
gymequipment
best canyon parks in the wrld
Visited on Jul 06, 2008

by gymequipment on May 20, 2014
SteveBerry
Awsome park. But if you like free, then climb in the back way. About a mile before the park there is a road to the right, take it. go down about a mile and you'll see a state park, it is so cool. It is an Oasis in the desert. And has an awsome boardwalk to hike with native petrographs carved in the rock. So if you climb the boulders, it took me about 20 min to reach the peak, you'll find your way into Red Rock canyon. Enjoy...

by SteveBerry on Oct 30, 2011

Who's Been There


VZIMMER is the Guru of Red Rock Canyon State Park

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What people are saying...

wash, desert, fault, basalt, canyon, sandstone, fossils, Red Rock, offroad, motorcycle, ATV, geology, yucca, ohv, reagan, cliffs, opal, movie, volcanic rocks, pottery

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