Rainbow Basin Natural Area
Rainbow Basin Natural Area
4.5
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This scenic desert area is good for hiking and other outdoor activities.
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The area
Address
Fossil Bed Road 8 Miles North, Barstow, CA 92311
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Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles122 reviews
Excellent
61
Very good
53
Average
8
Poor
0
Terrible
0

Revathi
San Ramon, CA191 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2023 • Family
A great side trip from the main road to see some cool rock formations. The off-road trail was easy to drive, and the colors and scenery were amazing. It's a nice, quiet place to explore and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.
Written January 28, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

christopher b
MADISON2 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2022
Just got done making the one-way loop in a minivan. It's quite doable, though I wouldn't have dared during or after a rainshower.

You've got a few miles of unpaved (bumpy!) road to go before you can hang the right hand turn to take you to the campground and loop, You'll know you're at the halfway point of the loop and the main parking area when you see a maintained road branch off to the right, shortly after you pass the broken piano (also on the right). Room for about a dozen vehicles, rimmed by bigger boulders. When you're done, keep going down the road (there's a couple of scary-looking patches but be slow and safe and you'll be fine) and you'll end up back on the bumpy road where you came in.
Written December 22, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Elke S
Newcastle15 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2014 • Couples
We didn't have a lot of time so we decided to drive around the loop road, that you supposedly didn't need a 4WD for, rather than walking. Don't do this in a sedan like we did. If you're going to drive I would only do this in a 4WD. The road is way too eroded with massive pot holes and crevices for a normal car - I don't know why they tell you that it's fine for any car. We were so scared that we were going to get stuck out there in the middle of nowhere (no phone reception either) or damage the car we'd hired that we could barely enjoy the scenery. It was a lovely place but they need to update their info regarding the drives. Otherwise, give yourself a bit of time and do one of the walks.
Written September 20, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

CrankingChick
Tucson, AZ7,707 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2017 • Couples
This area has very interesting and unusual geology! The colors and stratum of the rocky hills and canyons are fascinating. It reminded me of Artist's Palette at Death Valley National Park. Rainbow Basin is located about 10 miles north of Barstow off Irwin Road; From Main Street, take 1st Avenue and Irwin Road north about 6.8 miles and turn west on Fossil Bed Road. The turn is marked with a brown BLM sign. From there it's about 3 miles to Rainbow Basin. The one-way loop drive through the basin is approximately 4.7 miles. Fossil Bed Road and the Rainbow Basin Scenic Drive are both graded dirt/gravel roads. We watched the weather forecast for a couple of weeks before we visited to be sure conditions were dry. When we arrived it was arid and dusty, and the road surfaces were firm, though bumpy in some areas due to washboard and erosion. We were able to drive through in a low-clearance passenger car. A few spots on the curvy Rainbow Basin Loop were pretty narrow (no trailers or motorhomes). There are some places where you can pull over and get out to explore, but no wheelchair access. The small campground (fee) is first-come, first-served with no hookups or dump facilities. Restrooms are available at the campground. This is a remote and rugged desert area; go prepared with a full gas tank, snacks and plenty of water. There's very little shade so sun exposure will be intense any time of year, but dangerously so during the summer. Check the weather forecast and inquire about road conditions if it has rained recently.
Written April 18, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Jet10672
1 contribution
4.0 of 5 bubbles
The Rainbow Basin Natural Area is interesting and visually pleasing.
The geologic formations are beautiful and possess a variety of earth tone colors. The plant communtiy in the area is diverse and is composed of creosote bush scrub as well as Joshua tree woodland. In the spring, a diverse array of interesting annual flowers carpet the area. If your into natural areas, you won't be disappointed!
Written March 1, 2004
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Constanza T
Buenos Aires, Argentina47 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2013 • Family
Really worth the visit, it only takes a couple hours to go, do the loop and be ready to move on, and it is really really a unique view and a very special sight. Basically, you loop around inside your car, not sure it makes any sense to stop. I could not go at the best hours (early morning or late afternoon) and still found it worth the while. Very recommended if you have the time.
Written March 15, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Peter K
Hurricane, UT820 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2018 • Couples
We did the scenic drive around sunset on 8/31/18. There is lots of color (mostly greens, light reds and browns) and a good pull off overlook about half way through.
The area is relatively easy to find (just note the turn to it is a left right after you cross the bridge over the railroad yard.
The last road to the drive is dirt, a bit washboardy but over all fine. The drive is gravel, a bit bumpy but in generally good shape. It is one way, in the counter clockwise direction. We had no problem on either road in a Subaru Forester and I'm sure it could be done in a regular passenger car.
If is was raining or had recently rained I'd guess the roads would be impassable.
Written September 13, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

TravelingNative71
Cherokee, NC15 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2017 • Couples
My wife and I were married here. A lot people asked us, " why the desert ? " Why? The Mojave Desert has some of the best sunset views anywhere, thus setting the stage for a sunset wedding. We both enjoy the beauty of the desert as well. Rainbow Basin is a great place to enjoy the beauty of said desert. If you go, don't forget to check out nearby Owl Canyon campground and camp out for the night or if not staying all night, at least take a bundle of firewood and build a fire and enjoy a cookout. Or if you're not hungry, at least build the fire anyway and enjoy an evening under the desert stars. If you like nature, the desert, and just taking it easy, put Rainbow Basin on your to-do list the next time you're in the Barstow, CA area.
Written April 16, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Diane S
1 contribution
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2017 • Family
This was an exciting, unexpected spur of the moment day trip that we took our two boys to explore. This place was full of different kinds of rock and sediment that ranged in color that had us in so much wonder! For the ones who can't get out and hike much it's perfect to enjoy straight from the car (we drove through in a prius). If you do decide to take a hike, equip yourself with the best shoes as in some areas it is very rocky. A camera is a must. You can make this an all day event or cut it short. A campground is nearby, I didn't care to much for the wind but will be back soon for sure! We loved it!!
Written March 28, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Marsha K
Albuquerque, NM342 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2017 • Couples
As we love going to National Parks, Monuments, etc. we almost passed on this one (no real information in town or on maps). Sure glad we didn't! Wonderful, fun drive on dirt roads (don't go if there's been rain that day or when it is forecasted). The scenery was outstanding. We are sure glad we decided to go (added in about 2 hours to our trip).
Written February 12, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Rainbow Basin Natural Area - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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