#59 of 90 state parks in California

Best trails in Red Rock Canyon State Park, California

301 Reviews
Looking for a great trail in Red Rock Canyon State Park, California? AllTrails has 9 great hiking trails, views trails, wildlife trails and more, with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers, and nature lovers like you. Ready for some activity? There are 6 moderate trails in Red Rock Canyon State Park ranging from 1 to 13.9 miles and from 1,998 to 4,196 feet above sea level. Start checking them out and you'll be out on the trail in no time!
Description

Red Rock Canyon State Park is known for its spectacular rock formations. The park can be found where the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada connect to the El Paso Range. This about 120 miles north of Los Angeles via Interstate 5. The park is well worth a visit for the scenic desert cliffs, buttes, vivid colors, and the petroglyphs left by the Kawaiisu Indians. The Native American history in the park is extensive. A spectacular gash that can be found in the El Paso mountain range was on the Native American trade route. During the mid to late 1800s, the colorful rock formations served as cairns for 20-mule team freight wagons. It was also along the route of the Death Valley trek that was undertaken by members of the Arcane and Bennett families and a few Illinois Jayhawkers. Due to the extensive history, the park features significant paleontology sites and remnants of late 1800's mining operations. After a good solid wet winter, the park's floral displays should not be missed. Wildlife you can see in this park include 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 the nature trails. The park is tucked between Mojave and Ridgecrest along Highway 14. Some of the red sandstone cliffs are visible from the highway, but these glimpses do not fully do justice, and it is worth a full trip. The park has campgrounds, picnic areas, and hiking trails in addition to a visitor center and pit toilets. This is a fee area requiring payments.

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Map of trails in Red Rock Canyon State Park, California
Park information
Acreage:
27,000 acres
Park hours
Monday
dawn - dusk
Tuesday
dawn - dusk
Wednesday
dawn - dusk
Thursday
dawn - dusk
Friday
dawn - dusk
Saturday
dawn - dusk
Sunday
dawn - dusk
Contact
661-946-6092
Helpful links
Top trails (9)
#1 - Red Cliffs Trail
Red Rock Canyon State Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(81)
Length: 1.0 mi • Est. 28 m
The Red Cliffs Trail at Red Rock Canyon State Park travels past reddish cliffs comprising sandstone, mudstone, and some volcanic rocks. Evidence of slumping, or possibly faulting, is seen in this cliff formation, which makes it an excellent place to see geology in action. Although the main trail is only 0.75 miles long, there are several pleasant unofficial trails and washes nearby. It is possible to spend several hours in this area exploring the desert landscape just off the main trail.Show more
#2 - Nightmare Gulch Loop Trail
Red Rock Canyon State Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray Star(89)
Length: 8.8 mi • Est. 4 h 22 m
PROTECTIVE CLOSURE: This area is subject to closure annually February - June due to habitat protection. For more information, please visit https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=631 Nightmare Gulch is a colorful and highly scenic canyon and is a must see cross-country route in Red Rock State Park. The cross-country route starts just a half mile north of the entrance to the park at a small turn out on the east side of the highway. The route travels north then east around ridge tops offering panoramic views of the gulch and the Southern Sierra Nevada, then descends and turns south to the entrance of Nightmare Gulch. The gulch is filled with side slot canyons just waiting to explore. After exiting the gulch turn north to head back to the trail head.Show more
#3 - Last Chance Canyon OHV Trail
Red Rock Canyon State Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(34)
Length: 13.9 mi
#4 - Burro Schmidt's Tunnel
Red Rock Canyon State Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray Star(26)
Length: 10.5 mi • Est. 5 h 46 m
#5 - Ricardo Campground
Red Rock Canyon State Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(15)
Length: 1.4 mi • Est. 37 m
#6 - Ricardo Camp South Loop Trail
Red Rock Canyon State Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray Star(23)
Length: 1.0 mi • Est. 24 m
This is a short, marked trail starting at the south end of the loop drive in Ricardo Campground. The trail climbs gently to a ridge between the campground and adjoining Hagen Canyon, then climbs the steep face of Whistling Ridge to the summit and its rewarding views. The trail starts at the south end of the loop drive in Ricardo Campground, where the one-way drive makes the turn back towards the Visitors' Center. The trail crosses a small dry wash, then climbs gently along an eroded ridge to the main ridge that divides the campground from Hagen Canyon to the south. At the main ridge, the trail forks. The path to the right goes nowhere in particular, and the one down the opposite slope of the ridge descends to upper Hagen Canyon. You'll want the trail to the left, which soon starts to climb the back of Whistling Ridge. After a few hundred feet, the trail grows quite steep and rather eroded as the gradient follows the tilted sedimentary layers that make up the landscape of this part of the state park. Press on to the top of the ridge, and you will be rewarded with a stiff breeze (thus the ridge's name), excellent views of the campground to the north, and a desert canyon full of tilted red sandstone and hoodoos as far as the eye can see towards the east. Looking south on a clear day, you can see far into the Mojave Desert.Show more
#7 - Last Chance Canyon to Mesquite Canyon Road OHV Route
Red Rock Canyon State Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray Star(5)
Length: 11.6 mi
#8 - Nightmare Gulch Overlook Trail
Red Rock Canyon State Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray Star(15)
Length: 10.1 mi • Est. 4 h 47 m
There is a birds of prey nesting closure prohibiting all access from February 1st to July 1st every year.Show more
#9 - Opal Canyon OHV Trail
Red Rock Canyon State Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(12)
Length: 8.5 mi • Est. 3 h 59 m
The Opal Canyon Trail is considered to be a dirt road, e.g. one of the best roads out here. It was challenging in a Subaru, but accesses beautiful terrain to areas where opals were once found. Red Rock Canyon State Park contains over 30 miles of 4WD back roads traversing the scenic desert terrain. A good map is needed and the visitor center gives out free rough maps showing the trails, dirt roads, 4WD roads, and serious 4WD roads. Show more