Red Rock Canyon State Park, California

Park Map


I have driven to Vegas from San Jose several times; it's 10 hours, and that's more time than I like to spend driving in one day, so I usually stay overnight in Bakersfield. But since I was all packed up and ready to go camping after Vegas, I thought I would camp on the way there.

Before I discovered the 178 through Lake Isabella, I used to go to Death Valley by going to Bakersfield, south on the 58, then taking the 14 to the 395; the 178 cuts about an hour off that, and is very pretty. When one drives that direction on the 14, one drives right through Red Rock Canyon State Park, and I've always wanted to camp there. This was my chance!

The entrance to the only campground; it's a small park; there were about 60 sites, and I was the only person I saw at 2 in the afternoon. The rocks were beautiful.
This being summer, there are no rangers, the visitor's center is closed, and in fact there is no water available. None of this was a problem. I drove through the campground til I found a space I liked against the bluffs to the west, and near a (chemical) bathroom. You can see my campsite here, and two pics of the campground.
Lovely Joshua trees! And I walked about half a mile out of the campground and down the access road to hike Hagen Canyon, which was one of the two hikes that looked close enough and the right length for this afternoon.
These are the small cliffs I walked by on my way to the canyon; even with the sun behind them, they're pretty cool.
What's that by the path, under the bush? It's a zebra-tailed lizard, glaring at me and doing pushups to scare me away! first wildlife sighting, but by no means the last.
This was a beautiful hike; it was about 103 out, and the zebra-tailed lizards were darting back and forth across the trail like tiny arrows.

The next two pics are of a creosote bush that had interesting green galls all over it. They are caused by the Creosote Gall Midge, an insect that infests the plant and makes it create these balls for the larvae to grow in...couldn't find a picture of the midge, though.

I finished the hike, and tried to walk to the other hike I had planned, the Red Cliff hike...but that was across four lanes of fast traffic on Highway 14, so discretion won out. I walked back to the campsite, had a cold drink and a break, then drove over to this parking lot. There is a short, 1/4 mile loop trail, but the trail to Iron Canyon starts from the far side of the Red Cliffs loop, so I did both.
Nice to have a good trail description... These took serious discussion between me and my Plant Sensei Liz J, but we agreed that they had to be Thistle Sage. The bit of loop in front of me is the end of the Red Cliffs loop, and the long trail that goes out toward the hills is the Iron Canyon trail. I went about a mile out this, til it left the park land and was bounded by a road.
A beautiful day for hiking, if extremely hot. And hiking among the Joshua trees was great! There were a couple of these flying around these bushes; looks like a tarantula hawk to me, this is the best shot I could get of it.
Red cliffs, Joshua trees, and some guy on top of the cliff with a light saber...no, just the sun, but kinda cool. I asked the Indian photographer to take my pic, he was very nice about it. This one looks like Shrubby Butterweed.
The sun is going down, and it's getting shady. Still probably over 90 degrees, but lovely shade. Here is the Indian group; they were taking pictures for their wedding announcement.
My lovely campsite in the shade. After about 5 pm, the shade hit my truck, and I had a nice evening. With lots of ants around the campsite. Not annoying, just interesting huge red ants. Evening falls over the campground. By the time I got back, there were two other campsites with people in them, each of us far away from the other two.
Nothing says Good Morning! like a bunny with sunlight in its ears. The Red Cliffs in the morning sun...and I headed out for Las Vegas.