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Ultimate Guide To Red Rock Canyon State Park | California

Just right off the highway near Cantil, CA you will find Red Rock Canyon State Park. It’s not a huge park, but it’s worth the stop if you are driving through the area. It offers stunning tall pillars of red rocks that will make you feel small. In this Ultimate Guide To Red Rock Canyon State Park, we will show you how to have the best adventure within the park. 

Emily climbing on the rocks of R ed Cliff Trail in Red Rock Canyon State Park

There really isn’t an abundance of hikes in this state park. There are only a few hikes/viewpoints that are a must-see if you plan to visit the park. But if you want to adventure to see more in-depth parts of the park, you can check out Nightmare Gulch Loop, more details below. And as always, leave no trace and pack it in, pack it out.

Hagen Canyon Nature Trail:

Emily looking at the wall of Hagan Canyon Nature Trail in Red Rock Canyon State Park
Hagan Canyon Nature Trail

First hike I would suggest is the Hagen Canyon Nature Trail. It is a 1.2 mile loop hike with 62 feet elevation change. It is a fairly simple hike that offers views of the red pillar-like rocks, desert cactus and Joshua Trees along the route. We suggest doing this one first, because it is slightly less grand than the Red Cliff’s Trail.

The trail is a sandy path that is lined with rocks to keep you on the path. The trail will eventually bring you up to the tall rock wall where you can get right up next to it. 

Hagan Canyon Nature Trail in Red Rock Canyon State Park
Hagan Canyon Nature Trail

Red Cliff’s Trail:

Red Cliff Trail in Red Rock Canyon State Park
Red Cliff Trail

Next stop, Red Cliff Trail which is the famous area that probably enticed you to visit the park in the first place! The best view is honestly just from the parking lot. Right from your car you can see the beautiful red pillar-like rocks or you can stretch your legs and go on this short hike around the area.

The hike is 1 mile with 101 feet elevation change. 

Emily posing in front of a Joshua Tree on Red Cliffs Trail inin Red Rock Canyon State Park

The hike goes up and on top of the rim of the rock mound located on the other side of the parking lot. It’s a sandy path, but you can meander through some Joshua Trees and get a peek at some other pillar-like rocks that you can also adventure to. But personally, Red Cliffs is the most stunning spot in the park. 

Emily posing in between two rocks on Red Cliffs Trail in Red Rock Canyon State Park

If you are looking for a good spot to grab sunrise or sunset, this is a great spot to enjoy both! 

Ricardo’s Campground Loop:

Photo by Don B on Unsplash

Another popular trail within Red Rock Canyon State Park is Ricardo’s Campground Loop. And yes, you can camp here as well (more details on that below). Essentially the hike is just around the dirt road that loops around to the different campsites. But its a great way to get in a little exercise and maybe snap a couple good photos! The backdrop to the campground is pretty stunning after-all. 

The loop hike is around 1.4 miles with 78 feet elevation change. The trail is along the dirt road, so it is easy to follow. You can also venture around the ridge if you are up for it. Just try to follow foot traffic that has already been created and leave no trace. 

Nightmare Gulch Loop Trail:

Nightmare Gulch Loop Trail isn’t exactly an established hike. You can follow the AllTrails GPS tracker to stay on a similar path to someone who’s hiked it in the past. But be prepared to use some navigation skills as the path weaves in and out of washes. 

The hike brings you deeper into Red Rock Canyon State Park to get a bit of solitude among the red rocks.

The hike is 8.8 miles with 1230 feet elevation change. It can be a cool adventure if you plan to stay in the park for the whole day and explore.

Last Chance Canyon OHV Trail:

Photo by Don B on Unsplash

If off-roading if your thing, Last Chance Canyon is the perfect adventure for you. You can either get there from North of the Park or East of the Park, both leading you to Lost Chance Canyon.

The road is said to be rough, with lots of rocks and can be washed out in spots. So you may need a 4×4, high clearance vehicle to complete this OHV trail. Just take the road as slow as you need and take in the beautiful views of Red Rock Canyon State Park.

Camping in Red Rock Canyon State Park:

Photo by Kelly Repreza on Unsplash

If you plan to camp while you are in the area, be sure to check out Ricardo’s Campground. It is one of the most stunning spots you can camp around the area.

The cost per night at Ricardo’s Campground is $25. You can have up to 8 people at one sight.

The campground doesn’t take reservations, but there is a self-serve pay station at the campground. There are 50 primitive campsites, potable water, pit toilets, fire rings, and tables.

But if you are like us, and looking for a free campsite in the area, there is BLM land right outside the park where you can stay overnight. Use this iOverlander location for free camping. It’s not especially picturesque, but it was nice enough for a free spot to stay right outside the park. 

Or use our post: 3 Great Websites For Free Camping to find other free campsites nearby. 

Hotels or Other Accommodation Near Red Rock Canyon State Park:

If camping isn’t your thing, use to find a hotel nearby! Or consider booking a Vrbo.

Or one of our personal favorite options is to rent a campervan or RV from Outdoorsy or RVezy. That way you have your travel mobile and kitchen all in one!

For more information about Outdoorsy & RVezy, check out our post: Outdoorsy Vs. RVezy Review | Which Rental Service Is Better

Looking for other fun things to do in California?

Takeaway | Red Rock Canyon State Park:

Red Cliff's Trail in Red Rock Canyon State Park
Red Cliff’s Trail in Red Rock Canyon State Park

Red Rock Canyon State Park is a gem right off the highway in Southeast California. Depending on the time of year, the park can be rather quiet. We visited in late November and the parking lots only had about 5-10 cars when we were there.

You really only need a day to visit the park, as it is fairly small and has just a few hikes. We hope you enjoy your visit at Red Rock Canyon State Park. 

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