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Camping in Red Rock Canyon State Park

Camping in Red Rock Canyon State Park

Posted by Wet Sounds on 20th Jun 2022

Anyone searching for an outdoor adventure in a breathtaking landscape will want to put Red Rock Canyon State Park at the top of the list. This amazing park boasts gorgeous rock formations and hosts a variety of desert wildlife. At the same time, it offers plenty of ways to keep human visitors entertained, including opportunities for hiking, off-roading, and rock climbing. The best way to experience all the wonders of Red Rock Canyon State Park is by planning a camping trip.

About Red Rock Canyon State Park

Image via Unsplash by dillonpena

I head to Red Rock Canyon State Park when I'm looking for a camping adventure tucked in a landscape that feels like it's from another planet. This park's terrain includes caves and deserts, and the rock formations and cliffs alone make the trip worth it.

Red Rock Canyon State Park is about two hours from Los Angeles, making it easy to get to from many places. This small state park sits at the bottom of the Sierra Nevada, on the eastern side of its southernmost tip. It's 92 miles south of Lone Pine and looks like a scene right out of a western film. In fact, Red Rock Canyon State Park has hosted various westerns and other movies.

But there's more to Red Rock Canyon State Park than the movies. Visitors today can spot interesting wildlife like tortoises, lizards, hawks, and roadrunners, and the Joshua trees and wildflowers add to the awe-inspiring feel of this place. I like camping in Red Rock Canyon State Park after a wet winter, when the desert is in full bloom. It creates a breathtaking scene alongside the already extraordinary geologic features of this park.

Camping in Red Rock Canyon State Park

The only place for camping in Red Rock Canyon State Park is Ricardo Campground. Nestled against the base of those dramatic desert cliffs, Ricardo Campground offers 50 primitive campsites. The area includes potable water, fire rings, tables, and pit toilets. Campers must bring their own firewood or buy it at the visitors center. Wood collecting is not permitted — this includes leaves and twigs!

The campsite does not have any showers or RV hook-ups. Each site can accommodate up to eight people, but there are no group sites at Ricardo Campground. Camping is available only on a first-come, first-served basis, so I try to arrive on a Thursday evening or Friday morning if I'm heading here for camping on a weekend. The campground does tend to fill up on spring and fall weekends, particularly on holiday weekends or when the area is getting good weather.

Camping per site costs $25 each night. That fee includes the parking fee for one vehicle. The fee goes to $23 per night for seniors. Additional vehicles cost $6 each. All vehicles, including OHV, need to be parked within the rock-lined areas each campsite provides. Overnight parking is not allowed in the day-use lot, and horses and livestock are not allowed at the campground. Ricardo Campground has a 30-foot maximum on RVs. Quiet hours run from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and campers must have generators turned off from 8 p.m. to 10 a.m.

What To Do at Ricardo Campground

Ricardo Campground's 50 sites sit at the base of dramatic cliffs, boasting layered walls of sandstone for a breathtaking backdrop. The only overnight spot for camping in Red Rock Canyon State Park certainly delivers thanks to its proximity to those towering cliffs, not to mention buttes and rock formations, and I love taking in the natural beauty of this place during the day.

By night, Ricardo Campground offers unparalleled stargazing opportunities. The lack of light pollution makes for an inspiring experience. Many of the campsites are exposed since there is little vegetation in the area. Sites can be windy as well.

Because the campsites don't have hookups, I make sure I have all my supplies ready to go for a night or weekend camping in Red Rock Canyon State Park. An audio-powered cooler like the SHIVR-55-GRY | Wet Sounds SHIVR-55 Battleship Gray Bluetooth Soundbar Cooler takes the experience to the next level while I'm hanging out at the campsite.

The area around Ricardo Campground offers plenty of activities to enjoy as well. The trails in Red Rock Canyon State Park let hikers get close to the dramatic formations. Biking is also possible along the desert roads and trails. Horseback riding is also possible on many trails, though horses are not allowed at Ricardo Campground itself.

Red Rock Canyon State Park is also the place to go for some awesome off-roading. Drivers are allowed to use OHVs on many trails, and since this park includes more than 30 miles of back road trails, it offers an amazing setting for off-road adventures.

Of course, wildlife watching is a major draw of this park, as a multitude of desert wildlife calls Red Rock Canyon State Park home. Lizards, roadrunners, hawks, and more live in this desert ecosystem. Red Rock Canyon is known for spring wildflowers blooming out of the canyon rocks, including wild cosmos and Indian paintbrush, making springtime camping in Red Rock Canyon State Park all the more enticing.

This state park is also a paradise for climbers. There aren't a lot of rules about what climbers can and can't climb, and there are certainly enough cliffs to keep everyone busy. The opportunities for rock climbing and hopping really sets Red Rock Canyon State Park apart. The park even has spots with climbing ropes available. I love scrambling up amazing sandstone structures while hiking to enjoy the best of Red Rock Canyon State Park during camping trips. Just keep some safety tips in mind while enjoying all this park has to offer.

Camping in Red Rock Canyon State Park is the perfect way to experience the best of this park. Though visitors need to plan ahead since the one available campground does tend to fill up, nabbing a spot here translates to days and nights filled with wonder and adventure. The awesome rock formations that give the park its name serve as the backdrop for a memorable experience.