Red Rocks in California

Visit Red Rock Canyon State Park in California

Colorful badlands, towering buttes, and scenic desert cliffs form a hikers paradise. Red Rock Canyon State Park is a lightly visited desert wonderland where the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada converges with the El Paso range. There are several awesome trails here, but a good place to start is the Red Cliffs Trail.

The short and easy 1-mile loop trail travels around the cliffs, allowing you the opportunity to get a better view of the beauty surrounding you. From the very beginning of the trail you see spectacular views of the trail’s namesake: the red cliffs composed of sandstone, mudstone, and volcanic rocks towering above you. From the parking area, the trail leads up a small hill where you can see panoramic views of the park. (This trail has only 100 feet of elevation gain.)

There are several other trails in the park that you can tack on if you feel like doing more exploring (the Hagen Canyon Nature Trail across the street is a fun choice if you have time). Red Rock Canyon State Park is far too hot to visit in the summer (the Mojave Desert’s triple-digit temperatures are no joke).

But once the temperature starts to drop in the fall, the park is a great choice. Conditions tend to stay good through early spring, when the park fills with bright wildflowers. Summer’s too hot, spring sees the most visitors, so fall is an ideal time to go.

CAMP: Ricardo Campground, just north of Hagen Canyon, has 50 first-come, first-served campsites, many situated right beneath eye-popping fluted cliffs. Tables, potable water, pit toilets, and fire rings are provided. $25 per night.

Red Rock Canyon State Park is open from sunrise to sunset. Be sure to check for trail closures before visiting the park. Day use is $6/day. There is no reception in the park so download maps before you go. Bring plenty of water and go early to avoid mid-day heat. Check weather before you go, and do not hike on hot days. No dogs.

Story and photos by Natalie Bates, @wanderwithnatalie

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