Colorful rocks and desert cliffs mark Red Rock Canyon State as a beautiful getaway for your next RV vacation. Located in the desert canyons of California, at the convergence of the Sierra Nevada and El Paso Range, Red Rock Canyon State Park has been enchanting visitors since the days of gold miners in the 1890s. This majestic state park covers 27,000 acres that are open for exploration to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders.
Just two hours from Los Angeles, Red Rock Canyon State Park features one of the darkest night skies in the state, making it a hotspot for astronomers and novice skygazers. You will be captivated by the scenery of the park, where the jagged rocks and towering cliffs splash with colors like white, pink, red, and brown. You can hike past tall cliff spires that tower above at 300 feet. You can see Turk’s Turban, which is a collection of mushroom-like colorful rocks. Or you could hike past Camel Rock, a natural rock formation that looks just like a camel. If you make your camper trip to the park during the winter, you will be greeted with beautiful, blooming wildflowers.
Once you make an RV journey to Red Rock Canyon State Park, you can discover ancient petroglyphs and pictographs in the El Paso Mountains. The beauty and majesty of this state park is so renowned, it has been the filming location for many films including The Outlaw, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, and Westworld. No matter what time of year you drive your rig to Red Rock Canyon State Park, you’ll enjoy warm temperatures. In the summer, sunny days reach the 90s and above, while the winter produces temperatures in the 50s and 60s. So, pack up your rig and head to this park for your next RV escape.
Red Rock Canyon State Park is two hours northeast of Santa Monica, about a two-hour drive from Los Angeles, and just over an hour from Bakersfield. You can access the park by driving off of Highway 14, as it is located in between Mojave and Bradys. Highway 14 is the main road that cuts through the center of the park. However, there are several local roads that provide access to scenic areas and the campground. You’ll want to use caution driving a large RV or trailer on some of the unpaved local roads.
If you are looking for nearby day trips, head the campervan to Death Valley National Park, which is about two hours away. Death Valley National Park is home to a variety of natural attractions like the unique rocks of the Devil's Golf Course and scenic views of the desert badlands from Zabriskie Point. Sequoia National Forest is approximately three hours away, where you can see endless groves of massive Sequoias and many lakes that are just ripe for fishing and boating.
You can park at the visitor center, day-use area, and near some trailheads. Another lot is located in the north of the park, off of Highway 14. Parking may be limited for large RVs and trailers at some lots. Your best bet is to park your RV at the campground if you are staying overnight. However, keep in mind that the campground can only fit rigs up to 30 feet long.
If you prefer to set up camp outside of the park, or your RV is too large for the Ricardo Campground, you can stay at the nearby KOA. About 50 minutes from the park, the Lake Isabella/Kern River KOA can take rigs up to 80 feet in length. Each site is pull-through and has 20-, 30-, and 50-amp electric service. Your KOA hosts offer many activities, and if you don't mind the drive, you can still enjoy all that Red Rock Canyon State Park has to offer.
The Ricardo Campground is a first-come, first-served campground within the park, offering 50 primitive campsites for RVs or tents. You can enjoy stunning views of towering cliffs and buttes, as this campground is located at the base of desert cliffs. You’ll enjoy access to restrooms, fire rings, picnic tables, and potable water. Firewood can be purchased at the visitor center. While there are no RV hookups available in this campground, RVs and trailers up to 30 feet long are permitted. Weekends in the spring and fall can fill up quickly, so it is recommended to get to the park early to claim a campsite. Pets are permitted at the campground, but they are not allowed on established trails, except for service animals.
Hiking is one of the main attractions of Red Rock Canyon State Park since you can trek past towering colorful cliffs and awe-inspiring rock formations. Park your RV and hike out to Hagen Canyon, which you can get to through a two-mile flat hike past budding wildflowers and enchanting jagged rocks. You can hike among scenic cliffs near Nightmare Gulch or the skyscraper formations of Last Chance Canyon. With miles of trails through this desert park, you'll need to pack plenty of water for your hike and wear layered clothing in case the weather changes suddenly.
Throughout the peak season, guests in the park can use their ATVs on the dirt roads within the park. You'll love off-roading on the hard-packed desert dirt with the dramatic red rocks surrounding you. With miles of trails, you'll be able to pick up a little speed, but be careful not to stray into hiking and biking trails. Only licensed and legal vehicles are allowed in the park, and no driving under the influence will be tolerated. Pick up an off-road trail map in the park office before setting out on your off-roading adventure.
Throughout the peak season, you can take advantage of the programs at the visitor center. Check out the schedule in the park office or go online to see what will be available during your stay. Some examples of activities are taking a guided walk on the nature trail to learn how plants adapt to thrive in the harsh desert conditions, learning about desert survival, or listening to a lecture or video series detailing the Native American history of the area. Walk through self-guided exhibits to learn about the geology of the southwest desert throughout its ancient past. You can also stop by the gift shop to pick up some souvenirs. The visitor center is open from the fall to the spring season.
For those equestrians out there, you will love seeing this park from the back of a horse. Horseback riding is allowed on all roads within the park. Whether you want to ride past the colorful Red Cliffs or see the interesting rock formations at Turk’s Turban, you’ll love horseback riding through the natural beauty of the California desert. Horseback riding is for day-use only, and horses can't spend the night in the park, but it's a great place to park for the day and get some prime riding time in at a stunning location.
Mountain bikers will love the chance to ride the roads in a beautiful desert oasis during a motorhome trip to Red Rock Canyon State Park. Cycling is permitted on all established roads and multi-use trails within the park. You can coast by the towering colorful cliffs or the scenic views of Camel Rock. The weather can change rapidly in this beautiful desert location, so you'll want to be prepared with rain gear and good mud tires, and don't forget plenty of drinking water.
Red Rock Canyon State Park attracts amateur and professional photographers alike because of its dramatic beauty and rugged landscape. Anyone can snap an award-winning shot with a backdrop that you'll find here, such as towering colorful cliffs and unique rock formations that you won’t find anywhere else. You can take a selfie in front of Camel Rock or capture sunset shots of the Red Cliffs. Turk’s Turban and Hagen Canyon are also popular spots for photography. Pack your camera in your trailer, so you can capture picturesque views of stunning wildflowers under a watercolor California sky.
Only the hardiest of birds and animals can thrive in the rocky, desert landscape of Red Rock Canyon State Park. During your RV trip to this state park, you can spot all of the desert creatures that call this wondrous landscape home, including lizards, mice, and squirrels. If you are a birding enthusiast, you will get a thrill from seeing desert birds like hawks and roadrunners.
If you really want to see some interesting wildlife, pack your night vision binoculars and step out under dark skies of the desert to see what comes out in the coolness of night. Many desert animals hide from the heat during the day and carry out their nocturnal activities when the sun goes down. You may see owls, coyote, many varieties of reptiles, and cottontail rabbits. Make sure not to get too close and watch out for snakes.
With one of the darkest skies around, Red Rock Canyon State Park is a prime spot for novice and avid astronomers alike. Make sure you pack your telescope in your camper and gaze up at a sky littered with stars or catch a glimpse of the milky way. You might also be able to attend an event hosted by a local astronomy club to learn about the galactic wonders above. Due to the tilt of the earth during late autumn and winter months, the northern hemisphere is a great place to see some of the major constellations up a little closer, such as Pegasus, Andromeda, and Aquarius, and Pisces. But no matter what time of year you come, you'll find an amazing show unfolding up in the night sky.
The day-use picnic area, located near the visitor center, is the perfect spot to enjoy a quiet meal under the natural serenity of wonders all around you. Dine under the backdrop of towering cliffs and colorful rock formations during your RV trip to Red Rock Canyon State Park. Picnic tables are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and there are several shade covers in the day-use area.
Geocaching is a thrilling activity the whole family can enjoy during your RV trip to Red Rock Canyon State Park. Geocaching is a modern-day treasure hunt where you can use GPS coordinates found on websites and smartphone apps to find hidden caches, or treasures, located in the park. You might find trinkets, logs, or maybe even buried treasure. You'll need to go online to download the coordinates, and when you locate your treasure, make sure to replace it for the next camper to find.