Deep in the high desert outside Mojave two hours north of Los Angeles, where the southernmost point of the Sierra Nevada's meets the El Paso Mountains, Red Rock Canyon State Park sits as a surrealist wonderland of geological diversity. Nestled into the pale sand landscape is a treasure of vivid colors, moon-like rock formations and sprawling desert valleys awaiting discovery.
I spent a weekend trip with some friends at Ricardo Campground recently, right in the heart of it. By day, we explored the vast network of whimsically-shaped caverns, caves and ridge hikes, off-roading along Last Chance Canyon (appropriately named as our trucks got stuck once or twice along the way). Turns out, these 27,000 acres of accessible and awe-inspiring terrain have been used frequently for films over the years, from Jurassic Park to Destiny Child's "Cater 2 U" music video, as well as countless westerns over the years. By night, we ate chili and stayed up late by the campfire, singing to the stars in the clear sky overhead. In the morning, a sunrise hike and breakfast burritos prepared us for the drive home.