Red Rock Canyon SP
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 converge 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. This winter was very dry so the wildflowers should be sparse this year, but 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.
Camping 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 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.
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.
Horses are allowed on all roads in the park, with the exception of seasonally closed areas (see side bar). 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. 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.
Please note Nightmare Gulch Temporary Closure.
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.
- Hours of Operation:
The park is open sunrise-sunset for Day-Use. The campground is open 24-hours.
- Park Office Telephone:
Max Camper Length:
30 FeetMax Trailer Length
Currently there is not a phone number directly to the park.
For information, call:
Mojave Sector Office
First-come, first-served camping.
The Visitor Center is closed during the winter and summer months.
Open for the Fall 2013 season beginning October 4th: Friday and Sunday, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Saturday from 12:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Season closing date to be announced.
Guided nature hikes and campfire programs are offered during the spring and fall. For current event schedules, visit the Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association website.
All plant, animal, natural and cultural features are protected. Collection is prohibited without a permit.
Bicycle riders must stay on all improved and primative roads; off-roading is not allowed.
Shooting and hunting, or possesion of firearms or any explosive device is not permitted.
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.
Fires are only allowed in provided metal fire rings in the campground. Please do not make rock fire rings or import metal fire rings anywhere in the park.
Nightmare Gulch Temporary Closure
Nightmare Gulch Posted Order
This temporary closure is due to public safety and natural resource issues. For additional information, email Sector Superintendent Rick Reisenhofer. Thank you for your cooperation.
Nightmare Gulch Closed Annually Feb-June
Nightmare Gulch is closed or restricted seasonally for raptor species sustainablility.
Upon ending of temporary closure:
Open to pedestrians & equestrians only:
first half of month
Open to motor vehicles:
second half of month
Volunteers are always needed for projects at the park. If you are interested or for more information, contact Jean Rhyne at (661) 946-6900 or by email.