Red Rock Canyon State Park is a bizarro wonderland of geological diversity that we've been itching to visit for some time now. Less than two hours north of Los Angeles, where the southernmost point of the Sierra Nevada's meets the El Paso Mountains, this state park is 27,000 acres of moon-like rock formations, vivid landscapes and sprawling desert valleys waiting to be explored.
We spent last weekend with some friends at Ricardo Campground, right in the heart of it, and snapped some photos of the sights.
Headed into the campsites, just off the SR-14 Antelope Valley Freeway and a short drive down a lonely desert road, you're greeted by the park's namesake red-painted cliffs. A little further down and tucked away behind the melting sandstone buttes are 50 primitive sites that receive partial shade year-round, with good vantage to spectacular sunrises, sunsets, and breathtaking views of the stars at night.
Due to the low path of the winter sun and the high ridges that surround the site, along with its temperate climate and diverse landscape, Ricardo Campground offers some of the nicest spring camping conditions Southern California has to offer.
This area's known for the fossilized prehistoric remains of three-toed horses, saber-tooth cats and alligator lizards, but is now home to living roadrunners, hawks, owls and lizards.
There's a vast network of whimsically-shaped caverns, caves, and ridge hikes to explore, and wet winters will bring stunningly beautiful wildflowers to the hillsides. Hike Haden or Red Rock Canyon Trail, rent ATV's at Jawbone Canyon and head to Dove Springs for the afternoon, or take your four-wheeler to Last Chance Canyon for some off-road exploring.
Even with a closed visitors center in the off-season and no on-site park supervision, Red Rock Canyon is well maintained throughout its acres of accessible and awe-inspiring terrain. Full of vibrant flora, fauna, mountains and tributaries, it is an explorer's dream liable to excite even the most travelled adventurer.
- Site Name: Ricardo Campground
- Season: Year-round
- Distance from Los Angeles: 1:45 mins
- Sites: 50
- Reservation: First come, first served (winter weekends get busy)
- Cost: $25/site (bring cash)
- Tents: 8/site
- Cars: 2/site
- Water: Yes
- Bathrooms: Yes
- Fire: Yes
- Dogs: OK on leash