Exploring Red Rock Canyon State Park
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Exploring Red Rock Canyon State Park

posted in: Hiking, Travel | 0

So we’re staying in this little rinky dink town in California with nothing to do. Why did we pick it? Well, it was cheap. It’s on our route north. We thought we could have a week of heads down work and some relaxing. As it turns out this rinky dink town is close to so much to explore. First up, Red Rock Canyon State Park.

Red Rock Canyon State Park is maybe 25 miles from our RV park which makes for a perfect afternoon/evening of exploring. This park allows dogs which is an added bonus. Most hiking places so far don’t accept dogs on the trails which is why it makes us super happy to learn that this park does! So we gathered everyone up with plenty of water and hit the road for exploring!

joshua tree against the red rock cliffs
joshua tree against the red rock cliffs

Red Rock Canyon State Park

Apparently well over 100 movies have been filmed in Red Rock Canyon State Park, including westerns such as “Zorro Rides Again”, “The Big Country”, and “Law and Order” starring Ronald Reagan, as well as other hits such as “The Ten Commandments”, “Jurassic Park”, and “Beneath the Planet of the Apes”. 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. This neat California State Park is split in the middle by a road (Highway 14). It’s not super heavily traveled so no big deal. We opted to hit up the visitor center for a map of trails. It was there the ranger told us there is only one designated trail. Otherwise, we are free to explore and roam! When we inquired about getting lost in the desert, she informed us that we’d be in eyesight or hearing distance from the road. While some may think this a problem, it didn’t detract from the beauty and we honestly didn’t notice road noise at all.

Exploring

After learning of our freedom to explore, we decide to begin my adventure at the designated Hagen trail where there is a dirt parking area. Soon enough we are enjoying beautiful vistas of red sandstone walls, desert cliffs, washes and wildflowers.

Although the Hagen trail is only 1.1 miles long, it is definitely possible to spend several hours in this area exploring red cliffs, washes, and side canyons off the main trail. We soon went “off trail” at one of the washes and kept going further back. The formations were amazing and the colors pretty vibrant.

Keep in mind you’ll be hiking in desert sand, which adds a little extra work out. Plus, it means the formations are weak and can easily crumble with any weight. Even our dogs discovered this when things would crumble under their little paws.

We really enjoyed exploring the area and even discovered fields of wildflowers. We’re talking purples, yellows and pinks. I guess Red Rock Canyon State Park benefited from all the rain like most of the rest of southern California.

Next up was crossing the highway to the other side of this great state park to drive some of the dirt roads and climbred tail hawk higher. Thankful for our 4-wheel drive truck we climbed up to amazing views where we enjoyed a picnic dinner. We also got up close with a red tail hawk, which was a surprise to all of us.

Keep in mind we didn’t see more than 4 other people while out exploring. That makes this a gem for us as we like to be among nature and not among crowds. It also helps keep the park quiet and undamaged. Maybe on weekends it gets a little busier, but we wouldn’t know.

Camping

If you’re curious, there is a campground here. It is tucked up against the cliffs and charges $25/night. There are no hook ups and trailers are limited to 30′. This park abuts Dove Springs BLM where we also visited and offers plenty of space for boondocking. There are also lots of dirt roads for ATVs and dirt bikes to have fun and explore.

sunset at Dove Springs
sunset at Dove Springs

If you’re like us and aren’t ready for boondocking just yet, there are a few RV parks in the area. We stayed at Spaceport RV which is nothing special. Did we mention it is cheap? It is mostly full-timers in older rigs (and not always maintained well) with a few pull through spots reserved for us short time visitors. Although it’s nothing special, it suit our needs just fine by providing us with water and electricity. The manager (maybe owner) is nice and we were able to have mail delivered here. Plus, there’s a supermarket nearby and a hardware store. Heck, I could even walk to the post office!

blooming Joshua tree
blooming Joshua tree

All in all an enjoyable place to explore, hike, enjoy vistas and spend a day, especially if you’re into geology. We would go back here for more hiking, exploring and to see it in another season.