Thursday, April 27, 2017

RED ROCK CANYON STATE PARK (Kern County, CA): April 3-4, 2017

Red Rock Canyon State Park in Kern County, where the Southern Sierras converge with the El Paso Mountains, is another gem of the California desert and of our favorite desert camping destinations along with Death Valley NP, Joshua Tree NP, and the Mojave National Preserve (East Mojave). The last time we pitched a tent there was in March of 2003 when the wildflowers were simply splendiferous. Fourteen years later, it was high time we headed back there for a look-see, which we did on our way back from an overnight stay at Furnace Creek Campground in Death Valley. Springtime in our desert parks usually entails a throng of day use and overnight visitors, especially on the weekends, because of the pleasant temps and potential blooms. At the risk of triggering a plethora of eyeball-rolling from my sis, Elaine, who finds my obsession with weather conditions befuddlingly amusing, I must report that it was very windy but clear and in the upper 60's when we arrived at Red Rock Canyon at 1:30pm. Coming here on a weekday (Monday) meant that we had our pick of campsites and we ended up parking our RV at site #19 after initially setting up at site #9, which proved to be too exposed and windy from the gusts that kicked up later the afternoon. 

Here's an interesting tidbit from Wiki about the history of commercial filming in this location:

"Providing several unique, dramatic areas, and close to Los Angeles, since the 1930s Hollywood has frequently filmed at Red Rock Canyon, including motion pictures, television series, advertisements, and music videos. Among the many westerns filmed there were The Big Country and The Outlaw, and such diverse movies as Buck Rogers (serial)The MummyZorro Rides AgainJurassic ParkI'll Be Home for ChristmasMissile to the MoonThe CarWestworldSavages, and TV series Airwolf40 Guns to Apache Pass, the last film of Audie Murphy, was shot there in 1966. The 2005 music video Cater 2 U by Destiny's Child was filmed at Red Rock Canyon, as was George Watsky Sloppy Seconds music video."

 4/4/17 Red Rock Canyon off CA 14 at the turnoff to Ricardo campground. 
Many of the campsites are located right next to the spectacular and colorful rock formations.


Ricardo campground

Ricardo campground

Ricardo campground

Ricardo campground

Ricardo campground

Canaigre Dock/Indian Rhubarb (Rumex hymenosepalus)
Site #9, Ricardo Campground

Desert Alyssum (Lepidium fremontii)

Fremont/Desert Pincushion (Chaenactis fremontii)

Yellow Pepperweed (Lepidium flavum)

Under the shade of the cliffs above our campsite

 Campsite #19

Campsite #20

Campsite #19

 Campsite #19

Ricardo campground (view across from our campsite)

Life is good...

 Princess Sasha reposing in a field of Goldfields

Goldfields (Lasthenia californica)

Brown-eyed Evening Primrose (Chylismia claviformis)

Mojave Popcornflower (Plagiobothrys jonesii)

Devil's Lettuce/Bristly Fiddleneck (Amsinckia tesselata)

 Campsite #19

 Campsite #19

 Campsite #19

Campsite #19

 White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa)

Cheesebush/Burrobrush (Ambrosia salsola)

Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia)

Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia)

Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa)

Wallace's Eriophyllum (Eriophyllum wallacei)

Ricardo campground

Ricardo campground

Mojave Suncup (Camissonia campestris ssp. campestris)

Golden Gilia (Leptosiphon aureus)

I was hoping this was a rare fossil find, but methinks it's a remnant of someone's more
recent BBQ rib dinner

Small-flowered/White-stemmed Blazing Star (Mentzelia albicaulis)

Common Phacelia (Phacelia distans)

Parry's Linanthus/Sandblossom (Linanthus parryae)

Purplemat (Nama demissum)

Parry's Linanthus/Sandblossom (Linanthus parryae)

Parry's Linanthus/Sandblossom (Linanthus parryae)

Yellow Peppergrass (Lepidium flavum)

Mojave Owl's Clover (Castilleja exserta ssp. venusta)

Mojave Owl's Clover (Castilleja exserta ssp. venusta)

Above Site #19

The fur babies are busy checking out the fire ring for any camp food remnants

Gil looking for "fossils"

Tuesday morning we packed up camp and left around 9:50am. It was sunny, slightly hazy with some wispy clouds overhead and mild at 66F. On our way out we stopped at the visitor center but it was closed. 


1. There's a tortoise enclosure next to the visitor center with two captive Desert Tortoises - very cool!
2. There's a dump station for RVs near the visitor center (closed when we were there, though)
3. Water spigots are situated throughout the campground and ok to use to refill RVs (without charge if you're a registered camper)
4. Some of the pit toilets are open air and, therefore, less odiferous
5. There are picnic tables for day use next to the visitor center
6. It's 180 miles, about a 3 hour drive (including lunch/gas fill-up stop), from Red Rock Canyon back to our home in Murrieta (CA14 to Hwy 58 to Hwy 395 then I-15S)

This large stand of Mojave Owl's Clover (Castilleja exserta ssp. venusta)
was near the trailhead to Desert View Nature Trail

Brown-eyed Evening Primrose (Chylismia claviformis)

Harvester Ants

Crambid Moth (Nannobotys commortalis) on Desert Dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata)

Desert Dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata)
Desert Dandelion flowers close up in the late afternoon, so I wasn't able to get a good shot of them yesterday when I hiked out to this same area from our campsite. 

Desert Dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata)

Purplemat (Nama demissum)
Very few this year with sparse blooms

Desert Chicory (Rafinesquia neomexicana)

White-throated Swift
The only semi-clear photograph out of about a dozen that I took of 
these incredibly fast-flying (i.e., "swift") birds above our campsite 

Packing up camp for the trip home

Gorgeous swaths of yellow goldfields (Lasthenia californica) throughout the campground

Ricardo campground

Coming up on the visitor center

There's a Desert Tortoise enclosure right next to the visitor center

One of the two resident male tortoises in the enclosure

Exhibit next to the tortoise enclosure

Cactus wren nests in the cholla at the visitor center

Visitor center

Unfortunately, the visitor center was closed when we left on Tuesday morning

Bladderpod (Isomeris arborea) in full bloom at the visitor center. I'm sure these were planted,
but they are also native to the area

Bladderpod (Isomeris arborea), visitor center

Leaving the campground just before the junction with CA 14

On our way back to Murrieta, I saw large stands of Chaparral Whitethorn (Ceanothus leucodermis) in full bloom off of the Cajon Pass (I-15S) and managed to get a couple of fleeting shots as we drove by

Chaparral Whitethorn (Ceanothus leucodermis), Cajon Pass

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