Located in the middle of no where in a location (I don’t think I can even call it a city) called Cantil, California. It is just less than 1 hour from Lancaster/Palmdale, California. Sounds like a long distance but if you are not originally from the area, the drive is absolutely priceless. There are mountains, fields, and rock formations unlike I have seen before in other places. (But then again Indiana doesn’t have many rock formations, so…) These rock formations are red tinted, unlike the tan color of the Lancaster region. It’s a nice change of scenery. When the red rocks start to appear, it feels as though your car has just been transported onto a different planet, almost like you’re driving in the Sojourner Rover. The drive is definitely worth a day trip, or night if you are the camping type.
A visitor’s center is available and during business hours, there is an employee working to answer questions of the unique area. This is a blessing since California does need a bit more work on blazing trails and providing quality maps to newbies. One difference we found in California, compared to the east coast, the hiking trails are not marked and anyone can hike on just about any location, unless marked as private property. This could possibly be the reason many people yearly get lost or hurt due to going off the trail, since these trails aren’t marked. We have also been told, essentially, one can stop a car alongside the road and adventure out onto the land. This is a reason why cars are located alongside the road without being a park. All a learning curve for this eastern girl, turned western. So, babbling aside, go into the visitors center. There is a small free informative museum of the area and also a small gift shop. Nothing special but all proceeds go back into the park development/maintenance.
Upon asking for the best trail to follow at the visitors center, we were introduced to the Hagen Canyon Hike. This is a well laid out trail, hard to go off trail unless you want to climb a mountain side, so try this one first if a newbie. We were told it has the best red rock formations and is easily accessible. While there were loose rocks, I would say most people can go along this trail. Probably not wheelchair accessible but I would say special outdoor baby strollers could make it (1-2 small lifts). The trail is very short so I would assume small children would love the hike too (not strenuous). Please remember though the trail is open to the elements so if you are hiking in the sun, remember to wear plenty of sunscreen and take plenty of water, this is still after all the desert.
Okay so little history of the area, the land is not like the other locations where the formations were created by the shifting of the earth’s plates. The previous owners of this land were the Kawaiisu Native Indians and today there are still some petroglyphs, we did not see any but apparently there are some still to see. Additionally, this area with the large rock formations were a sightseeing location for 20-mule freight wagons during the 1800’s, a good landmark to note water is available. Finally, since we are located in California, the area has been noted to be the filming location of The Outlaw, The Mummy, Jurassic Park, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Missile to the Moon and even Destiny Child shot a music video in this area.
All of the rock formations can been seen up close and one is allowed to adventure without restrictions, keep safety in mind.
After walking on the trail past the large rock formations in the above photo, one is lead to a valley and is surrounded by these unbelievable rock formation mountains. These look small in person but are about 10x larger in person.
The Hagen Trail is only around a mile so we wanted to do some more serious climbing so we went over to the area for camping overnight. In this area there is another trail that is small but then has an option to climb Whistler’s Peak, a steep mountainside. The view from the top is amazing, well worth the climb up the peak. Right through the center of this photo is the main highway, it gives you an image of how large this area really is in comparison to the photo. The peak is a bit strenuous on the legs, as it is steep, but if you can make it the views will keep you in awe for hours. It does get very windy and there is no guardrail so I am not sure it is the perfect location for little kids that go on their own path.
This was another interesting rock formation we found near the camping site. This was actually the backdrop to one of the sites. Can you imagine waking up to this sight in the morning from your tent or camper? Simply amazing views.
Want to visit Red Rock Canyon State Park? It is located in Kern County and spans over 20,000 acres. One can camp (reserve a spot ahead), hike, rock climb, dirt bike, 4-wheel, meditate, camp, whistle, sing, and/or whatever you can think up. There are really no rules to this location, simply respect the area and remember it is a natural reserve and some spots preserves so be mindful of the area.
Since hours of operation and other information can change fast I want to give you the Main Website instead of giving you specific information on hours and parking fees. There is no entrance fee.