Dramatic geology and interesting history abound at Red Rock Canyon State Park

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By Bob Difley
The 50-site campground at Red Rock Canyon State Park is tucked into the base of colorful desert cliffs where once the Kawaiisu Indians hunted rabbits and small game. I was reminded of this when I had taken no more than a dozen steps outside my motorhome and confronted a coyote stalking a cottontail. Suddenly the coyote made his move, startling the cottontail that darted off to its burrow — and right between my legs. The coyote hadn’t noticed me until then, and came to a sliding, dust-swirling stop just feet ahead of me, then disappeared off into the scrub.

red_rock_canyon_state_park2The park’s prominent buttes, steep cliffs and colorful rock formations served as signposts for the Native Americans that for thousands of years passed over this trade route. Twenty-mule-team freight wagons stopped here for water in the 1870s, miners worked the area in the late 1800s, and it has been the location of several movies. The cliffs, caves and narrow canyons behind the campground are fun to explore and offer great views from the top.


The park removed the alien invader tamarisk trees, which soak up lots of water, and the stream now flows above ground again. Wildflowers are beautiful in the spring. The park is 25 miles northeast of the town of Mojave on Route 14 near Cantil, Calif.

The no-reservation, first-come, first-served, no-hook-up campground with 50 primitive campsites has potable water, pit toilets, fire rings and tables, but no dump station or showers. Bring your own firewood, or purchase it at the visitor center. 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 for seniors (62 years old or better). 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 p.m. to 6 a.m.; generators must be off from 8 p.m. to 10 a.m.

You can find Bob Difley’s e-books on Amazon Kindle.

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Vanessa Simmons

Not to be confused with Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area just over the border in Nevada.

Bob Love

Love this site; I have led several trips of museum patrons to there. Never had that experience, but once saw a male Bay-Winged Hawk chase a Desert Cottontail around a shrub while a female watched from a rock nearby, waiting for an escape attempt. As we were unintentionally interfering, we left after a few minutes, so don’t know the outcome. By the way, our rabbits (except for the Pygmy Rabbit of the Great Basin) don’t dig or use burrows. European rabbits do.

Len Wilcox

Thanks for reminding me of this park! That’s a great area to go exploring in the winter months. You can visit Last Chance Canyon, Randsburg, an Opal mine, Burro Schmidt’s tunnel – and an interesting museum over in Ridgecrest.

Chuck Woodbury

Chuck, thanks for the kind words about our newsletter. We really do work hard to provide an entertaining yet informative and helpful online publication. Fridays are my favorite days, when all the pieces of the newsletter are in place and I can just scroll through and marvel at how much good stuff we are able to provide our readers. After 16 years, I still enjoy doing every new issue. — Chuck W, editor