Red Rock Canyon State Park

About two hours north-ish of Los Angeles is Red Rock Canyon State Park. Driving up the 14 highway, the landscape turns into desert, and past Lancaster, it feels very much like the middle of nowhere. Near Cantil, these spectacular canyon walls and desert cliffs reach up on either side of the highway.

My friend and I decided to walk the Hagen Trail, an easy one mile loop which circled some of the major formations. Except for a few other people who had pulled over to snap a few photos in the parking area, we were the only people there. Maybe this had something to do with the fact that it was about 100 degrees outside…

The rocks, besides their odd vertical erosion patterns which look like pillars, are striped in bands of bright orange-red and white. The rock itself is softer sandstone mixed with basalt, and mixed amongst the sandy washes are plenty of examples of volcanic-type rock as well.

Given its relatively close proximity to LA, Red Rock Canyon State Park has been used as a movie location dating back to the 1920s. Mostly used for westerns, the park has also doubled for exotic deserts and other planets in film and television. Perhaps most rooted in my mind is the landscape’s use in The Big Country, where the cliffs are easily recognizable.

There are several short day hikes and even a longer 8 mile loop to explore the park. I would not recommend doing what we did and going in July because the heat is unforgiving. I do hope to get back at some point for sunset or sunrise with some time-lapse equipment, because it truly is a unique and fascinating landscape.

A link to these on Flickr.


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