Red Rock Canyon State Park In California- Why You Should Visit
Updated: Mar 17
During the summer of 2020, I was searching online for some outdoor places to visit in California and I came across a picture of some beautiful red desert cliffs with spectacular rock formation. I had never seen anything like it and was surprised to learn they were in fact in California and were part of a state park! Unfortunately, due to a very hot summer we decided it would be best to leave it for a cooler season. Fast forward to 2 weekends ago (January 2021) we decided to pick up and take a day trip to finally visit Red Rock Canyon State Park. I wanted to share with you a little bit of what we learned about the area as well as our experience during our day visit.
We love exploring nature and this was a true treat. The views are spectacular, theres plenty or FREE parking and entering the park to explore is also FREE. From the moment you park you can start enjoying all the beautiful sights. Each canyon is unique, with dramatic shapes and vivid colors. It is the desert so temperatures can be extreme...either too hot or too cold. Always wear layers! We visited on a day when it was 60 degrees fahrenheit with full sun and it was great. A bit chilly at the beginning but after we started hiking some layers came off and it was perfect. More on the hikes down below! Here are some things you should know before visiting:
Bring lots of water
Pack a lunch and snacks. There is no food anywhere in the park.
Wear layers as it can get very cold or very hot
Most area is made up of sand and rocks so bring appropriate shoes
Bathrooms are available but bring hand wipes and sanitizer
Have sunblock and hats available. Both hikes we did were full sun.
Don't forget your camera, the views are amazing.
You must have a face covering with you at ALL times.
We went for the day and enjoyed two easy hikes for the whole family with plenty of parking and absolutely beautiful views.
Red Cliffs Nature trail- This is an easy 1 mile loop trail with very little elevation and perfect for the kiddo. Even before starting the trail we got to enjoy all the beautiful rock formations and get up close and personal for pictures. Once inside the trail the views are even more breathtaking with many more beautiful and unique canyons and plants to admire. There are signs that guide you through the loop, if that's all you would like to do. We actually went a bit off this trails path and made it an out and back trail. Instead of turning right on the sign we followed the straight visible path to make our hike a bit longer and enjoy more of the beautiful cliffs and scenery. We did come across other families doing the same so I guess it's not a rare finding. It did not add any difficulty to the trail as it remained flat and easy to walk on, it only made it longer. It eventually took us to a dirt road which is where we turned around and walked all the way back to our starting point. From start to finish it took us 1 hour and 1/2 with several stops for pictures and to take in all the beauty around us. As a special treat we got to see a Jackrabbit run/hop right in front of us so keep your eyes peeled for these guys.
Hagen Canyon Nature Trail- This loop trail is easy and 1.2 miles long. It took us 1 hour and 45 minutes to finish just because there was so much to see and explore and we could have stayed there longer. This trail was a little busier but nothing too concerning. At the beginning of the trail there is a sign where they encourage you to find some unique rock formations. We turned it into a fun scavenger for the whole family. We found 2 of the 3. Somehow we missed the easiest one and didn't see it until we were driving away. Ok let me show you the spectacular views!
Heres a little history we learned about this beautiful area. Historically the area was once home to the Kawaiisu Indians, In 1850 it was used by the footsore survivors of the famous Death Valley trek and in 1870's it served as landmarks for 20-mule team freight wagons that stopped for water and in . The park now protects significant paleontology sites and the remains of the 1890's era mining operations. Most recently it's been the site for a number of Hollywood movies like The Mummy, Jurassic Park, I'll Be Home for Christmas and TV series like The Twilight Zone.
This area didn't become a State Park until 1969 but ten million years ago the whole area was at the bottom of a massive lake! Sediments washed down from the Old Sierra Mountains and were deposited in layers. Time and pressure turned the layers of sand and mud into huge rock beds. Due to the constant changing of Earth by plate tectonic movement the valley floor was uplifted and the lake dried up. When two plate came together at the Garlock Fault (1 mile south from the area) one of the plates was driven upwards, revealing all of the layers that were deposited millions of years ago. Wind and water erosion of these layers created the spectacular formations throughout Red Rock Canyon State Park. Why the red color? The bright red coloration is due to the high iron content in some sediment layers that when oxidized turns red. Pretty neat right?
The park is located along State Highway 14 in Kern County. It's about 80 miles North of Mojave, where the southernmost tip of the Sierra Neveda converges with the El Paso Mountains. From Orange County it took us about 2 hours and 30 minutes on a Sunday morning. Once you enter the area you cannot miss it!
37749 Abbott Dr. Cantil, CA 93519
I hope you get the opportunity to visit this beautiful State Park. Was it worth the drive to get there, absolutely. It made for a fun family adventure and highly recommend you visit. If you enjoyed this post please leave me a comment, like it, share it with a friend or pin it!
Talk to you later!