EveryTrail is now a part of AllTrails! Please click here to read more.

Best Trails in Red Rock Canyon State Park

23 reviews

#94 of 490 State Parks in California

Upgrade to Pro

Unlimited access to National Geographic TOPO! & Trails Illustrated Maps

Learn More »

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.

on Red Cliffs Trail
1 month ago

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.

on Red Cliffs Trail
2 months ago

Beautiful but hot. It is the desert I guess after all.

on Red Cliffs Trail
4 months ago

hiking

walked around a bit and explored and sat around for the sunrise, was really beautiful

on Red Cliffs Trail
7 months ago

hiking

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.

on Ricardo Camp South Loop Trail
11 months ago

hiking

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!

on Ricardo Campground
11 months ago

camping

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.

on Red Cliffs Trail
1 year ago

hiking

on Nightmare Gulch Overlook ...
1 year ago

hiking

This is a good hiking trail also. Damage from vehicles is unnoticable. It's a very nice canyon hike with lots of interesting rock formations. Mostly flat and a lot of soft sand to walk on.

on Last Chance Canyon
1 year ago

off road driving

Stock wrangler unlimited, no problem if you take your time. Amazing scenes. Must do mines and tunnels. 9/2014

on Red Cliffs Trail
2 years ago

scenic driving

Absolutely stunning. The campground is right on the rock face so the whole time you're surrounded by beauty! I call it the mini Grand Canyon!

on Red Cliffs Trail
2 years ago

hiking

Have been up to Red Rock a half dozen times and it never gets old!! It's a park similar to Vasquez and Devils Punchbowl. You can wonder around the area for hours and never be in any danger of getting lost. The last time I went my buddy and I hiked around the Canyon for almost 10 miles. Rock formations are wicked and was formed from wind and erosion, always find something new. There is an extremely cool canyon formed by running water on the backside, you can also free climb many of the towers.

on Last Chance Canyon
2 years ago

hiking

Went with 20 jeeps had a great day lots of different terrain

on Last Chance Canyon
2 years ago

One of the coolest trails out there in the Red Rock area, easy outs for the week!

on Nightmare Gulch Overlook ...
2 years ago

off road driving

Nighmare if you don't like to side hill!

on Nightmare Gulch Overlook ...
2 years ago

off road driving

Omg. 5 miles of big rocks winding through tight canyon walls. Very difficult. 4x4 with lockers a must. 35" tires help

on Red Cliffs Trail
3 years ago

hiking

We completed both Hagen & Red Rock Canyon Trails in one day. They are both loop trails that offer plenty to look at and keep beginning hikers like our youngest entertained. They even both offered quasi caves to explore as well. Very family friendly and separated by about .25 miles on the high way. Also for those of you with small children, Red Rock Canyon Trail has a bathroom. Hagen Trail had the camel rock and 'window'. Would recommend for beginners or those with small children.

on Red Cliffs Trail
4 years ago

walking

Beautiful little nature walk but it's only a 25 minute meandering little loop.

on Red Cliffs Trail
4 years ago

hiking

Yul Brenner Westworld!

on Red Cliffs Trail
4 years ago

camping

Red Rock Canyon has a few different trails for a nice easy hike. There's plenty of first come first serve campsite, day spots, RV spots(no hookups) to choose from(approx 40). If you're planning a stay then don't forget an awning for shade, and sunscreen! It gets windy at night which is real soothing while you sleep, kind of like a beach setting. The rock formations are great for pictures and exploring.

on Last Chance Canyon
4 years ago

off road driving

Enjoyable trip today. Up from the Randsburg road, reasonable ground clearance and armor required. Most of the way is gravel creek bed, with a couple of rock gardens. Stock Jeep Wranglers can do it with a little care. Similar vehicles will have no problem. A couple of steep spots, one long one, a couple of twisty drops. No lockers required.
Side trips to Bickel Camp and Burro Schmidt Tunnel were interesting.