With its stunning desert cliffs and colorful rock formations, Red Rock Canyon State is an enchanting place to visit for a mini getaway.
Nestled within California’s spectacular desert canyons, this state park resides where the Sierra Nevada and El Paso Ranges meet. Back in the 1890s it was a haven for gold miners. However today, this 27,000 acre public recreational space is more popular with hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers.
Featuring a landscape where cliff spires soar up to 300 feet and jagged rocks are interspersed between vibrant wildflowers, you might remember scenes from Westworld, Beneath the Planet of the Apes and The Outlaw, as you are venturing through this California state park.
Despite being only two hours from Los Angeles, the park features some of the darkest night skies in the state. This makes it a favored spot for astronomers and skygazers. Many of whom choose to stay overnight in the park’s primitive campground in order to get a better look at it.
The park provides visitors with a myriad of ways to enjoy its spectacular scenery.
Outlined below is a selection of some of the most popular outdoor recreational pursuits you can do whilst there.
Hiking at Red Rock Canyon State Park
Hiking is one of the main draws of the park, attracting people from all over California to come here for the chance to explore its extraordinary terrain.
Throughout the park, there are several trails that allow you to get an up-close and personal look of the jaw-dropping rock formations and towering cliffs that define it.
One of the most popular hikes is a two mile trail that guides you past gorgeous wildflowers and rugged rocks en route to Hagen Canyon.
You can also choose to hike to Nightmare Gulch, which showcases some fabulous scenic cliffs or the incredible skyscraper formations that characterize Last Chance Canyon.
Horseback Riding at Red Rock Canyon State Park
If you plan to visit the park with your horse you will be permitted to ride on all of its roads.
Some of these roads take you past the magnificent Red Cliffs, as well as the captivating rock formations that make up Turk’s Turban.
Please note, horseback riding is restricted to day-use only. Horses are not allowed to stay in the park overnight.
Biking at Red Rock Canyon State Park
Like horseback riding, mountain biking is allowed on all roads within the park.
One thing to note is that the weather can change quickly, so it is always worth being prepared with good mud tires and your rain gear.
Whenever you hit the road, it’s worth wearing a helmet too.
Stargazing at Red Rock Canyon State Park
Red Rock Canyon State Park is renowned for possessing one of the darkest skies you’ll find in California.
For this reason it has become known as an excellent spot for stargazing. If you have a telescope with you, it is worth bringing it with you for the chance to view the cosmos in all its glory.
Should you head to the park in the autumn and winter months you have a good chance of seeing iconic constellations like Aquarius, Pisces, Andromeda and Pegasus.
If you are so inclined, you may even be able to attend events hosted by the local astronomy club that regularly meets in the park.
Picnicking at Red Rock Canyon State Park
Many people come to the park to enjoy a picnic with family and friends.
Situated near the Visitor Center you’ll find a day-use picnic area. This provides a lovely spot to take in the mesmeric scenery whilst enjoying an al fresco meal.
In this area you will find several picnic tables available on a strictly first-come, first-served basis. There are also several shade covers here which can be used too.
Geocaching at Red Rock Canyon State Park
The park is a noted spot for geocaching with several caches being hidden within it.
You will have to download the coordinates online to find out where they are. But once you have got them, you may uncover trinkets or even buried treasure.
Just remember to replace what you found with something of your own for the next person to find.
Nature & Wildlife
If you are into birding and wildlife viewing you will love the opportunity to see the various species that call the park home.
Across its stark, desert landscape you should spot a wide range of animals. These include owls, snakes, cottontail rabbits, lizards, squirrels and mice.
Birders should also look out for roadrunners and hawks as well.
The park considers itself to be pet friendly, although it does impose certain conditions on the presence of dogs.
To find out what they are it is worth contacting the park’s main office for more details.
For those who want to stay at the park there are 50 primitive sites available for RVs and tents. These are situated within the Ricardo Campground and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
There are no hookups or showers available for RVs and trailers and as it is very rustic, the campground does not have much in the way of amenities. The only ones being pit toilets, potable water, picnic tables and fire rings.
Each site can accommodate a maximum of eight people and RV and trailer sizes of up to 30 feet long. During the weekends, particularly in the spring, these sites can fill up. So it is worth coming to the park early to try and secure one.
Red Rock Canyon State Park
37749 Abbott Dr,
Cantil, CA 93519
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Red Rock Canyon State Park:
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