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    Red Rock Canyon State Park: California’s Secret Stretch of Desert


    If you’re yearning to see some striking red rock formations but don’t feel like braving the crowds at popular National Parks like Zion, consider visiting Red Rock Canyon State Park in Cantil, California instead. California may be the most populated state in the US, but there are still a few hidden natural wonders that don’t attract throngs of visitors. Red Rock Canyon State Park is small yet stunning.

    Red Rock Canyon State Park, CA

    A desert cathedral sculpted by the hand of God, Cantil, CA | Photo by Babette Plana/Flickr

    Located roughly 2 hours away from bustling Los Angeles, remote Red Rock Canyon State Park offers visitors a serene sense of peace and quiet. Stately red, white, and orange rock formations create a sense of seclusion. Red Rock Canyon State Park features several trails which offer a scenic view of the rust-colored desert landscape which is lined with spiky Joshua trees.

    sunrise at Red Rock Canyon State Park, California

    Sunrise at Red Rock Canyon State Park, California | Photo by birdsongPics/Flickr

    The beauty of Red Rock Canyon State Park is that it still appears fairly rustic and untouched. There are few facilities, signs, and others markers of modern civilization inside of the park. If you hike the Red Cliffs Trail, you will most likely not spot many other people. It is not surprising that several classic movies and TV shows have been filmed in the area, including the 1932 movie The Mummy, and a few notable episodes of the original Twilight Zone.

    Red Rock Canyon State Park, California

    Red Rock Canyon State Park, California | Photo by Mark Morgan/Flickr

    Red Rock Canyon State Park is home to a small campsite. Visitors can camp in the shadow of an enormous pilar of red rock. Be warned that there are no showers. If you’re willing to bring your own supplies and rough it under the stars, a night spent camping at Red Rock Canyon State Park will truly transport you back to the Old West.

    Natural Arch, Red Rock Canyon State Park, California

    Natural Arch, Red Rock Canyon State Park, California | Photo by Rollie Rodriguez/Flickr

    The town of Cantil—which is Spanish for stone cliff—neighbors an eerie ghost town called Saltdale. In the early 20th century, Saltdale was home to a thriving salt extraction business. By the mid-20th century, Saltdale fell on hard times and workers began to abandon the small desert town. Surveying the desolate remnants of Saltdale after spending a day exploring the uncanny rock formations of Red Rock Canyon State Park will leave you with a solid appreciation of the Mojave Desert’s vivid sense of mystery.

    Cantil, California

    Red Rock Canyon State Park should top your list of places to visit if you’re searching for some true desert solitude. Parts of the Mojave Desert have become super sleek tourist magnets, but Red Rock Canyon State Park remains relatively pristine and unspoiled by crowds.



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