Red Rock Canyon State Park

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 converges with the El Paso Range. 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. 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.

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Latitude: 35.3733746 Longitude: -117.9907608 Elevation: 2590 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Jean Rhyne

Recreational Opportunities


Camping is allowed in developed sites only in Ricardo Campground. The campground is tucked up against the base of dramatic desert cliffs, with 50 primitive campsites, potable water, pit toilets, fire rings, and tables. Bring your own firewood, or purchase it from a ranger or at the visitor center. There are no RV hook-ups or showers. A maximum of 8 people is allowed per site (there are no group sites).

Camping is first-come, first served; there is no reservation system. The campground can fill up on weekends in the spring and fall, especially if the weather is nice or on holiday weekends, so arriving on a Thursday evening or Friday morning is recommended.

Camping is $25 per night per site, which includes parking for one vehicle per site, or $23 per night with seniors (62 years old or older). Additional vehicles are $6 each. There is a 30 foot maximum on RVs. Self-registration/payment is required before setting up camp or parking. Vehicles (including OHV) must be parked within the rock lined areas provided at each campsite. No horses or livestock allowed in the campground. Quiet hours are 10 pm to 6 am; generators must be off from 8 pm to 10 am.

Day Use

The day-use parking area, open sunrise to sunset, is $6 per vehicle per day. Overnight parking in the day-use lot is not permitted.

Miles of trails meander through the dramatic landscape of the park, and hiking is an intimate way to experience the desert. Use desert safety precautions- bring twice as much water as you think you need, and layered clothing for sudden fluctuations in temperature.

Equestrian Use

Horses are allowed on all roads in the park, with the exception of seasonally closed areas. Horses are not allowed in the campgrounds, however equestrian day use out from the Red Cliffs parking area is still allowed, but no overnight camping. 

Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation

All licensed vehicles (street legal and OHV with green stickers) may travel on the primitive (dirt) road system within the park. All drivers of vehicles (street legal and OHVs) within the park must be licensed, with the exception of Cantil Wash and the frontage road south of Cantil Wash, which are open to unlicensed operators of OHV green sticker vehicles when accompanied by a parent or guardian. Please watch for Closed Route signs and check maps for open routes (please do not create new routes). Drinking and driving laws apply both on the paved and primitive dirt roads.

Seasons Accessible

Year Round, although the Visitor Center is closed in the summer and winter.

The park is open sunrise-sunset for Day-Use.

The campground is open 24-hours.

The Visitor Center is open seasonally.
Guided nature hikes are offered during the spring and fall, as well as campfire programs on Saturday evenings. Check the website for current visitor center hours and program schedules.

Nightmare Gulch Closed Feb-June;  closed or restricted seasonally for raptor species sustainablility.
Open to pedestrians & equestrians only: July-January, first half of month
Open to motor vehicles: July-January, second half of month

The park is 25 miles northeast of Mojave on Highway 14, near Cantil. Go west 1/4 mile on Abbott Drive. Signage indicating the turnoff is clearly visible on Highway 14.

The park is 120 miles north of Los Angeles, via Interstate 5 and Highway 14.


Day Use: $6/day, $5 with Seniors 62 and older, $3 with Disabled; Camping is $25 per night per site, which includes parking for one vehicle per site, $23 with seniors, $12 with Disabled.

ADA Accessibility Notes

Visitor Center, picnic area, two campsites, and campfire programs are accessible.

Pet Friendly Notes

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.  They must be cleaned up after and cannot be left unattended.


What a uniquely beautiful and historical place! Warning: Don’t stay too long. It's addicting. What a classroom for so many interests.

Helen Peasley, 4/21/2011

This a great get away with superb hiking for all and breathtaking scenes. Explore the gulches to see it all! The Rangers are nice and have lots of info...

fred chauff, 1/13/2013

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