When you hear ‘red rock’ you probably think of Colorado, Las Vegas, Utah, or even Arizona, but there are red rocks in California too. Red Rock Canyon State Park isn’t huge and it’s easy to drive through without really paying attention on your drive up the 14 towards Death Valley, Sequoia Nation Park, or up to Mammoth, but that would be a mistake. This is a place to stop in, even if just for a half hour or so. The appeal of Red Rock Canyon is both the walls of textured and layered sandstone red rocks, which are huge and otherworldly, and easy trails in the Mojave that feature Joshua trees (which I am obsessed with, y’all!) and green hills that contrast against the red. At two hours drive from LA it’s also a nice spot to visit if you want to stargaze. The park is free, doggies are welcome, and there are campgrounds.
I have stopped here a few time, both for itself and on the way to other places north. It’s a good opportunity to stretch your legs if you’re coming out from LA and getting antsy. I prefer to hike and scramble over rocks on the western side of the 14, as the terrain is a little bit more “interactive” than the east side, which is more “stop and stare.” You can see which side grabs your attention more below.