Red Rock On

Hike the volcanic landscape at Red Rock Canyon State Park

With its vivid volcanic reds, folded sandstone whites, and mudstone browns, it’s hard to believe that Red Rock Canyon State Park is within the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. This cliffside, resembling curtains in shades of earth tones, is but one of the many unique geological features here.

Hiker on the trail at Red Rock Canyon State Park in California

Person posing inside a cavern pocket at Red Rock Canyon State Park

For highlights, wander the nearly 1-mile loop trail. But before starting up the trailhead, you can get up close to all the fissures and step inside one of the shallow caves. The trail is lined by rocks and is easy to follow. The first leg takes you up a small hill, where you can veer off a bit to get an over-the-top view of the Red Cliffs and experience a panoramic view of the prominent canyons that are sprinkled with Joshua trees and yuccas.

Hiker among wide open space at Red Rock Canyon State Park in California

The trail turns right and offers up some benches to take in the fullness of the Red Cliffs from a distance before you head back down to the parking area. Historically the colorful rock formations in the park served as landmarks for 20-mule-team freight wagons that stopped for water traveling from Death Valley. Fossils of saber-tooth cats and alligator lizards have been found within the mudstone and volcanic layers. 

Hiker at Red Rock Canyon State Park in California

This almost alien area was also a Hollywood favorite for classic sci-fi shows like Lost in Space, Battlestar Galactica, and The Twilight Zone. These cliffs are no strangers to old westerns either. If you are wanting to feel like you’re on a different planet, this is a great desert location to check out!

Heading north on the CA-14, the parking area is the first right after entering Red Rock Canyon State Park. This trail is dog and horse friendly.

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Berkeley's Backyard Waterfall

    Tucked among the hillside homes of North Berkeley is a winding stairway that leads to the “secret” entrance of a Narnia-like canyon with a 40-foot waterfall.

    View
  2. The Carson Show

    Carson Falls is ready for primetime. This three-tiered, 100-foot stunner is hidden back in a canyon outside of Fairfax and reached on a 3.25-mile (round-trip) hike. The start of th

    View
  3. Falls of the Wild

    Through the redwoods you’ll go on this adventurous 9-mile (round-trip) out-and-back hike in the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. This hike is loaded with charms, but the big riches come from viewing Maple Falls, a 30-foot stunner that comes to life after rains.

    View
  4. Hood's New Trail

    Tucked just on the edge of Sonoma Valley near Santa Rosa, Hood Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve has a brand-new trail leading up to a brilliant picnic spot with a panorama of Sonoma Valley all the way out to the ocean.

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Can You Keep a Secret?

    The Southern Oregon Coast's Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor between Gold Beach and Brookings has so many sights to see, it’s hard to know where to spend your time. We like this trio of suggestions because you can do them as a three-in-a-row jackpot of coastal wonders.

    View
  2. Secret Trail at Torrey Pines

    Find cliff climbs, sandy strolls, and secret hikes throughout “America’s finest sandy stretch" at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in San Diego County.

    View
  3. Ojai There!

    If a substantive and super scenic bike ride is right in your wheelhouse, do the 30-mile (round-trip) Ventura-to-Ojai bike path that begins (and ends) near the Ventura shoreline, pit stopping in delightful Ojai for food and drinks.

    View
  4. Fountain to the Falls

    There are three ways to reach the lovely Monrovia Canyon Falls, but only one of them is worthy of being named a good challenge!

    View