Red Rock Canyon State Park: Ricardo Campground and Hagan Canyon Trail

Location: Red Rock Canyon State Park, California (located on Hwy 14, 25 miles northeast of Mojave)
Campground: Ricardo Campground, $25/night, first come first serve
Hike: Hagen Trail (2 mile loop trail)
Trip date: December 2015

Red Rock Canyon State Park in California was supposed to be just a place for us to spend the night to break up the drive to our final destination, Death Valley National Park. However, once we were there and had a look around, we wished we had planned on spending more time there. We had scheduled our Death Valley trip for the week before Christmas (2015), so we arrived at Red Rock Canyon on Monday, five days before Christmas. We celebrated the heck out of Christmas before we left, had family celebrations, baked cookies, overdosed on holiday treats, decorated the house, etc… Now it was family time, time to slow things down a bit and appreciate just being with each other and ….just appreciate. Although we had planned otherwise, we got to Ricardo Campground, the only campground in Red Rock Canyon, after dark. There were only two other campsites occupied, so we had our pick (in the dark). We chose site #13 because it was level and, really, just because, since we couldn’t see much. This campground has 50 “primitive” sites (pit toilets, water, fire ring and table) which are on a first-come, first served basis. We chose this park because it is conveniently on the way to Death Valley on Hwy 14 which continues north until it joins up with I-395 (then to 190, the road leading to Death Valley).

It had been raining hard until about 15 minutes before we got to Red Rock Canyon, so we felt extremely lucky with the turn in weather. We were even able to make a fire and cook salmon in foil over the coals, though every once in awhile we felt a little misting of rain. Naturally, being in the desert makes you want seafood, right? The winds started picking up right after dinner, so we brought everything back inside and spent the rest of the evening in the comfort of the van. Everyone got a good nights sleep… except me.

The winds really picked up that night. I was the lucky recipient of direct wind hitting (yes, hitting) my side of the penthouse top. Every few minutes, the wind would push me awake. I wanted to go downstairs, but I didn’t want my daughter to be up there by herself, in case, you know, the top blew off or something. One of the many, many things I did when I was awake was look up wind speeds at Ricardo on my phone. 27 mph! FYI, this is not a regular occurence here, all of California was experiencing a storm system, so in comparison, I guess we had it pretty good in Red Rock. I guess.

We learned something from this trip. In windy places, always face the van into the wind if possible. At one point the winds got so bad that I was convinced if I didn’t hold onto the bars of the penthousetop, it was going to get ripped off the top. It was all up to me. If we had parked facing the front of the van into the wind, then the wind wouldn’t have affected the back where we were sleeping (as much). I didn’t have the heart to wake up hubby, who was blissfully sleeping, and ask him to repark the van. My hubby assured me the next day, after laughing (I should have woke him!), that the penthouse top would never have been blown away. I still think I saved all of our lives – you’re welcome very much! At some point in the night the winds died down and I must’ve fallen asleep. When I woke up and looked outside the window, it made the crazy night all worthwhile. “Wow,” was all we could say. Red Rock Canyon without the crowds… put that on your list.


So much to explore around the campsite:DSC_1644DSC_1656DSC_1663DSC_1642

Pictures from other areas of the campground:DSC_1659





We only had a little bit of time to walk some of the Hagen Trail on our way out:






DSC_1715Off to Death Valley… wish we had more time here.


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