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Posted by on Mar 5, 2017 | 95 comments

Red Rock Canyon: Unique Park in California

The American West, or to be more specific, the Colorado Plateau, is renowned worldwide because of its reddish landscapes and mind bending formations.

The best representation of the area’s aesthetic is located in Arizona, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico.  Many dream of visiting places like Zion, Bryce, Arches, Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde.

But, what about California?  Is that state associated with red rocks?  To be honest, it is not.  But, since I love to add a magic twist to everything, I would say it is not associated with red rocks but we do have areas with red rocks.

In a remote area of the Mojave Desert, where the Sierra Nevada converges with the El Paso Mountains, cliffs, buttes and rock formations rise from the arid floor.  A lot of the rocks in the area have red tones due to a high concentration of iron.  That is why 27,000 acres of terrain have been designated as the Red Rock Canyon State Park.

This place is located about 120 miles from Los Angeles and 80 miles from Bakersfield (it is closer to the cities in the Antelope Valley area).  As you can see, a considerable amount of time will be involved in reaching the place from a big city.  In addition, the paved areas can be toured by car in about an hour.  So, it is not necessarily day trip material.

However, if you are driving from Los Angeles to cities located along the US-395 (Mammoth Mountain, for example), a stop in this park is worth your time.  The same goes for people who like camping and riding off-road vehicles.

As a matter of fact, that is what happened to us.  We were driving home back from Bishop and we decided to stop.

The red, pink and green rocks of Red Rock Canyon can be seen from the freeway.  Once you enter, red and white cliffs will welcome you.  There is no fee to walk along the paved road or the Hagen Canyon Trail.  In my opinion, this is the most scenic part of the park.

It is easy to see why.  Just look how those rocks!

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

The most famous formation in the park is called Turban Rock.  Can you see it? Maybe a little bit of imagination is needed (but it is pretty obvious to me).

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Once you get back on the road, you can continue to the Ricardo Campground.  Now, a fee is charge to enter this day use area (or you can pay to camp).  The road in here was built to connect the campgrounds but you can drive it to see the formations.

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

My advice is not to pay the fee since the free area is way more scenic than this part.  Now, paying the fee will make sense if you are some kind of travel junkie that wants to see everything (that would be me), a geology lover or a person that is willing to hike around.  In that case, head to the ranger station located inside the campground and ask for hiking recommendations.

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

On the other side of the road, across the park’s main entrance, there is another series of formation called Red Cliffs.  You can stop for free in here.

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

Red Rock Canyon, Kern County, California

As you may have noticed, I was able to see only a small area of Red Rock Canyon.  Nonetheless, this is a very distinctive part of California, the state I proudly call home.  This park is another fantastic example of the richness and life that can be found in our deserts.

There you have it.  Now, you can explain the connection between California and red rocks!


  • The park is 25 miles northeast of Mojave on Highway 14. Signs indicated where to turn.
  • Please follow the rules since they help to protect this ecosystem.
  • Day use and camping fee
  • The free areas are very scenic

Have you visited a place like Red Rock Canyon or a place that has surprised you?

Pin it for later?

Red Rock Canyon State Park is located in a remote area of the Mojave Desert. Its cliffs and formations are the best example of red rocks in California.



This post is part of Our World TuesdayWordless Wednesday at Image-in-ing, Wednesday at What a Wonderful World, Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox ,  Faraway Files at Oregon Girl Around the World, Photo Friday at Pierced Wonderings, Fly Away Friday at Life in Wanderlust, Weekend Travel Inspiration at Reflections Enroute, The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond  and Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and a Southerner. Pay a visit to these wonderful blogs!

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    • I am glad you see it! I wonder who come up with the name.

  1. What a beautiful and unique place! I would like to see it with your own eyes

    • Glad you find it unique. We are lucky to have a place like this in California.

    • Yes, they are so amazing! The desert is full of surprises!

  2. Awesome! I would definitely put this in my bucket list. I love red rocks and this would be a lovely stop on or back from Vegas, right?

    • No, the park is on Hwy 14 which connects the 5 to the 395. It is one the way to Bishop or Mammoth Mountain (Eastern Sierra).

  3. Fantastic formations! The Turban rock really looks like the turban of a particular sect in India.

    • Ha, ha, it is funny how you put it. The park has a camel rock too but I was not able to find it.

    • The red is what makes this place unique. But, there are pinks, greens and yellows too.

  4. So unique and utterly stunning!

  5. Your photos are lovely. The rock formations look like part of a melted multi layer cake. The alternating red layers and eroded white stone are striking. I had never been to this park when I lived in California. If I ever do the drive between LA and Las Vegas again, I think it is worth the detour time to see this amazing place.
    Rhonda Albom recently posted..Flying Boats Race at Manly Beach in New ZealandMy Profile

    • The “melting of rocks” is a common thread thru the West. I have been to many places with a similar aspect. It is fascinating how rocks got that aspect.

  6. Wonderful picture! Thank you for your sharing!

    • Your welcome! Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Beautiful photos ruth! I have never visited here, but I have a friend who has and her pictures were unreal!

    • Oh, that is so cool! I see it as an adventurer playground.

  8. Wow this just looks insane!! I really need to visit California one day!!

    • That sounds like a good idea!

    • I want to go back to Zion and visit Bryce. If there are rock formations, I want to go.

  9. So beautiful! When we visited Las Vegas a couple of years ago, one of my favorite things that we did was to take a trip to Red Rocks. All of the colors were just so beautiful! It’s nice to know that you can still find those red rocks in California as well!

    • I have been to the Red Rock area in Vegas. It is a beautiful park. I want to visit the Valley of Fire next.

  10. I had no idea that there were such beautiful canyons and rock formations in California – and I grew up there! Now I have a new place to go explore whenever I go home to visit next! Amazing!

    • So cool you got to know about this place through this post! There are other parks with formations. I have to post about them.

  11. One more place in California I never made it to! Looks beautiful though! #WanderfulWednesday

    • You have to come for a visit (and bring your husband).

  12. The fusion of the colours and formations in a single structure are surreal. It’s hard to imagine it coming into being.

    • That is true Becky! Looks like this is the result of erosion (doesn’t look like volcanic activity to me).

  13. Brings back memories Ruth — we’ve been there, but it was a long long time ago (when we lived in Oregon before we retired, we made many trips to California and loved exploring the amazing diversity of the state).

    • Glad you visited! Not a lot of people know about this park.

  14. Thanks for coming by:) Then to think that we came by on the 5 or 99 at least twice a year shuttling back forth between Los Angeles and Sacramento – we have never seen this! First I thought you meant Red Canon in Utah, but hey California has (almost) everything!!

    • Right, I think I have heard about that Red Canyon in Utah. Good you agree California is almost perfect.

  15. this looks amazing! I am fascinated with rock formations in USA. if I visit again US, that is definitely something I would love to visit.

    • Thanks Klara! Nice to know you like this side of the States. Hope you come back soon.

  16. Wow! I didn’t know there was such rock formations – with such color- in Southern California. Thanks for sharing, Ruth!

    • Your welcome Jill! This is a true surprise. Friends of mine saw the photos and they couldn’t believe it.

  17. What stunning photos! I’ll have to check it out as I frequent California!

    • Great! Will be nice if you can make it there one day.

    • I believe these formation are very unique. But, I still have to see a lot of the West.

  18. I had no idea this park existed! Thanks for sharing – can’t believe how blue the sky is in some of the photos… #flyawayfriday

    • Here in California, we are notorious for our blue skies. I love it when it is blue and bright and you are able to enjoy the outdoors because of that.

  19. I keep saying that I have to get to Zion but maybe I just have to take a (long) drive from San Francisco to Rock Canyon instead? the rock formations look pretty cool. #flyawayfriday

    • Well, the only thing is that Zion is a big park. This place is small, so, you have to combine the trip with something else.

  20. The formations look like they should be inside a cave. What a photo feast! I love red rock.

    • I get that! Imagine how the rocks were hundred of year ago!

  21. I did not know Red Rock Canyon exiisted in California! Such a prehistoric looking landscape. We see many red rock formations here in Colorado, and I never tire of seeing them.

    • That is one of the reasons why I want to visit Colorado. I am sure I will fall in love with the state.

  22. Wow the rock formations are unbelievable!! One of my goals for this year is to do more road trips and enjoy the outdoor! Loved the photos and the tips on how to save money! Thank you! This is definitely on my list 🙂 #flyawayfriday

    • That is one of my goal too. Well, I think it is a goal I have every year. I had problems with my car but, now, I am back at the game. I hope to go on a road trip soon.

  23. Those photos are absolutely stunning thank you for sharing with #WeekendTravelInspiration. Thanks for the pin its on my board would love to visit one day.

    • Thanks Jo! You are so sweet! I am trilled you like the post.

  24. Amazing place and beautiful captures. Thanks for sharing.

    • Cool! Thanks for stopping by.

    • That is true! I have visited places were the formation process is explained and it is very interesting.

  25. I visited this place some years ago, but only took pictures because the light wasn’t good. We just passed by the Red Rock Canyon coming back from Lake Tahoe a month ago but didn’t have time to stop this time. I am very envious looking at your beautiful pictures. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • Thanks Anda! I forgot you can go to Tahoe by this route.

  26. Those rock formations are CRAZY. Seriously so cool. I love visiting places like this. 🙂 #FlyAwayFriday

    • I love visiting places like this too! I have others on my bucket list.

  27. The rock formations are really impressive. I had heard about Red Rock parks in other places, but didn’t realize there was one in California. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard
    Anisa recently posted..La Boqueria Market: Come Hungry!My Profile

    • It would be nice to visit the parks with the same name on different states.

  28. This is great. I learned something and I thank you for that.

    • Alan, that is great! I am happy because of that!

  29. Wow these rock formations are extraordinary. I seen something a little similar in Geikie Gorge in The Kimberley region of North Western Australia. These were formed millions of years ago from the Ice Age.

    • Oh, that is another are full of red rocks and soil. Would love to visit.

  30. Nature is incredible. I can imagine you could spend hours looking at the different rock formations. Like Kathy above the landscape reminds me of some parts of Australia. Thanks for joining us on #FarawayFiles

    • So nice this park reminds you of Australia. I will like to visit those area one day.

  31. Incredible photos! I had no idea this was there and will have to go visit before it gets too hot!

    • Yes, the area will be burning hot during summer.

  32. Wow!! This is truly some of the most gorgeous rock formations I’ve ever seen. The turban rock is amazing and I can’t believe nature made something like that. I can’t believe this is so close to LA and I never knew about it. I wonder if I can convince anyone for a mini road trip when I’m back in LA in the fall!
    Anna recently posted..2 weeks in Dubai by the numbersMy Profile

  33. Beautiful! I had never heard of this before now, and I grew up in California. Thanks for linking in this week at #wkendtravelinspiration!

  34. Wow. You have such epic landscapes in the US, don’t you? These cliffs really are extraordinary, Ruth and I love your tip about being able to see the best of it for free. Aren’t you lucky to have this in your own backyard? Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

  35. So cool, I had no idea this park existed! I’ll definitely have to make a stop next time I’m driving down that way. I drive the 395 every so often to So Cal

  36. Great post – those rock formations are amazing. Your photos are so clear and nicely composed, too.

  37. I enjoyed your photos since it was dark when we passed through this area as we drove from LA to Death Valley last year. It was necessary to stay on schedule, but I knew we were missing some unique formations. Thank you for sharing them!
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  38. I’ve never heard of this park before, but looks like a great place to go exploring! Thanks for sharing and linking up 😀

  39. Honestly surprised I’ve never heard of Red Rock Canyon before as those rock formations are fascinating! Love the colour variations too. Another spot worth visiting in California it seems. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  40. Amazing! I have never even heard about this park. You know I love Bryce and Zion and Arches – good to know that there are super cool red rock formations right in Cali! Thank for sharing with #FarawayFiles

  41. Those rocks look like they are melting. Very cool. Growing up, I used to spend summers about an hour away from Red Rock Canyon, in a town called Lake Isabella. I don’t think we ever visited this place though, as I’m sure I would remember something so interesting.

  42. Wow gorgeous photos! For a second I thought it was going to be about the Red Rocks in Sedona but had no idea we had it here in California! I’ll have to check it out! Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday, hope to see you again this weekend! xo

  43. wow this is so cool!! I’ve never even heard of this park and I’m a California native!! I’ll have to go check it out sometime!

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