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, about 120 miles north of Los Angeles via Interstate 5. 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. The Day Use Annual Pass is accepted at this park. 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.
Beautiful and desolate. Bring a map--it's easy to wander off trail by following the wash or other lost hikers attempting to find the tunnel. Trail branches off into several other trails in a dozen places. There are now fences and signs blocking this trail in some parts. Flat in the beginning, but there's some pretty consistent hills and valleys on the way back. Once we found the way back, trail was clearly marked.
The tunnel was pretty cool--amazing how one person with limited tools accomplished all that. A lot of people rode ATVs or 4WDs to the tunnel, so it got a little crowded there.
Anisa D. on Red Cliffs Trail
Great little hike. I started by heading south on the trail. at the southern point you have a great little vista view looking right at the main formations as you drive in. At the north point of the trail you will find several groupings of Joshua Trees. Form this side you can also walk up the back of the formations should you wish.
A 5 hour hike with beautiful rock formations in parts of the trail. Perfect for winter but would be way too hot other times of the year. A bit of easy rock climbing along the way. Some of the hiking is through soft sand. One long uphill climb. Trail is not clearly marked so come with a printed map since there is no cell service and your phone might not hold the charge for the whole route. We saw very few other people along the way so if you don't like crowds this is the trail for you!
Bring plenty of water and enjoy the scenery.
We loved this trail! It was very hot and dry since it's the desert and the summer, however the formations and the views were incredible. There was only one other couple hiking the day we went and they were leaving just as we showed up which made for a relaxing and private hike to enjoy it all. It is dog friendly, which is awesome (yay!) however it is hot dry and hard on the feet with zero shade so it may not be for every dog, and for people and dogs alike bring plenty of water and energy drinks.
Ted G. on Red Cliffs Trail
Yesterday morning, 01/09/2016 I decided to hike Red Rock Canyon State Park on the west side of SR14. I was the lone hike out there, visitor's centered closed but numerous campers and motor crossers. The hike to Whistler's Ridge and Peak was cool, easy and the terrain felt like hiking on foam after the El Nino rain weather. After hiking the Whistler's Ridge, I hiked to the middle top of Canyon Ridge which was cool but scary. I back tracked and veered to the left towards to bottom of the canyon and hike along the canyon floor to very west side of the canyon. Cool hike. I expect this place to be full of hikers, come spring and fall.
WoodDude 7. on Ricardo Camp South Loop Trail
Short but sweet. You leave the loop drive of Ricardo Campground from its south end, climb along the ridge and, when in doubt, just keep going uphill. Quite steep near the top, but with spectacular views of the tilted layers that make up this part of the park. Bring water and a camera. On the way back down, you can drop into the upper part of Hagen Canyon to the south, and explore a landscape of badlands, hoodoos and castellation. Be careful if you head downstream in Hagen Canyon, though. There's a 50' dry waterfall at the bottom of a neat waterslide, and you wouldn't want to miss your turnaround point and keep on going over the edge!
WoodDude 7. on Ricardo Campground
For being right off of a major highway, this campground is pretty darned quiet. Classic desert state park campground, with vault toilets and water spigots here and there. Fires are permitted in fire rings, and there are some pull-through spots for RVs. Not much shade, unless you back up against a cliff, but there's plenty of scenic appeal, hiking trails, and a nearby OHV recreation area. There's a trail from the south end of the loop drive that goes up to the ridge top, with a nice view. You can also head down from a fork in the trail to explore Hagen Canyon, with its colorful displays of red sand-castles and hoodoos. Across the highway is the beautiful Scenic Cliffs area, and a mile further up a dirt road is Nightmare Gulch, all picturesque desert locations which you might recognize from some of the many movies that were filmed here.