The State Park
Red Rock Canyon park is only 3 by 3 miles in extent and spans both sides of CA 14. Much of the best scenery can be seen from the highway, though several dirt tracks do lead to other areas to the east, and two main locations that invite further exploration are found to the west - one is around the Ricardo campground, set at the base of white cliffs and hoodoos (eroded pinnacles), reached by a short side road in the middle of the park; a nice place to camp since the 50 sites are quite well-separated and many are set right amongst the formations at the foot of the canyon walls. The visitor center is located nearby, and there are several short hikes that lead up the cliffs and through the adjacent cacti-covered land.
The second main site of interest is Hagen Canyon, just south of the Ricardo turn-off - a one mile long side valley with intricately eroded, multi-colored cliffs, washes and mounds, quite similar to the Bisti Wilderness
of distant New Mexico. The rocks here have various different strata in shades of red, white and grey, and are topped by a band of black lava, each layer having eroded in different ways. Hagen Canyon has a short trail though visitors are encouraged to walk anywhere. Overall, Red Rock Canyon State Park is interesting but quite small so unless camping, a couple of hours spent exploring is probably enough - maybe less in summer as temperatures can be quite extreme. The best time is during the spring wildflower season.
For hotels, the nearest towns are Ridgecrest
(32 miles north) and Mojave
(25 miles south).