Rainbow Basin Natural Area

Rainbow Basin Natural Area, Barstow: Address, Phone Number, Rainbow Basin Natural Area Reviews: 4.5/5

Rainbow Basin Natural Area
4.5
Nature & Wildlife Areas
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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
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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4.5
118 reviews
Excellent
59
Very good
51
Average
8
Poor
0
Terrible
0

dnaleciz
Moreno Valley, CA404 contributions
If you are intrigued by geology, bewildering colorful sites, or just like to take a ride to the middle of nowhere, Rainbow Basin Natural Area is the perfect destination for you. This 1,961-acre reserve located 8 miles north of Barstow is a great trip for everyone. This strange geological formation area is in the Calico Peaks range and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Ingress to the area is via a dirt road which will take you through the spectacular basin. As one travels this colorful area, one will observe strangely shaped rock formations decked out in amazing colors. Over the years, this Basin has provided a wealth of information to scientists pertaining to early man and long-ago extinct animals that once roamed the area. The Fossil beds and The Early Man Site are well worth visiting. All areas of the basin are open to the public via the dirt road the circulates around the area. Be advised, you need to ensure that your vehicle and tires are in good conditions. The road is narrow in several locations, and sharp turns are common. You must be always vigilant. There are numerous locations where you can pull off the “road and park” and explore the surrounding environment. If you do so, be prepared for extreme hot weather conditions which can reach upwards to 115 degrees. Bring sufficient water with you as there is no water source within the preserve. Proper footwear, clothing, sunglasses, and a hat are strongly recommended for this trip. Camping is not permitted within the Rainbow Basin. If you are interested in remaining overnight or camping, you my find Owl Canyon Campground to your liking. Camping fee is $8.00 a night. This campground has 22 primitive sites available on a first come basis. If you are a “glutton” for punishment, there are three hiking trails throughout the basin which will tax your endurance at this time of year. Wildlife abounds in the area. Expect to coyotes, snakes, lizards, and a wide variety of birds. Spent 4 hours driving around viewing this picturesque area with its colorful formations. Dazzling site well worth a visit.
Written July 19, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

yacro
Los Angeles, CA251 contributions
The two main things to do here are the 1) scenic loop and 2) the hiking loop. I did both. This place is like a miniature Death Valley, very similar to the area around Artist's Palette and Golden Canyon/Gower Gulch. The scenic drive is just 5 miles, and there is a section in the second half where the dirt road gets quite narrow/twisting rather suddenly. The hikes is called Rainbow Basin Loop - look up information on this 7-8 mile hike. The hike is through classic and colorful badlands, with 2 interesting slot canyons at both the eastern and western ends. Some scrambling and route finding is necessary though. And yes, this is worth the detour from L.A. or Las Vegas if you are in the area. I went in early fall and found the temperature to be perfect.
Written October 31, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Chris K
81 contributions
This was a great stop and easy to get to. From the Baymont Hotel, Barstow, take a left on Main St, another left on N 1st St and another left on Irwin Rd. It's about 8 miles. Drive 3 miles on a dirt, washboard road and then take a right into Rainbow Basin. It's very easy to get to and well marked. Once in the Basin, you will wander through a 5 mile dirt road through the formations. The road is good, any can can make it.
The formations were so beautiful. Different colors and shapes. I went at sunset and the lighting made it interesting. Definitely a good stop of an hour or two.
Written April 16, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Elke S
Newcastle15 contributions
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.

CrankingChick
Tucson, AZ7,872 contributions
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.

Jet10672
1 contribution
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.

Constanza T
Buenos Aires, Argentina47 contributions
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.

Peter K
Hurricane, UT700 contributions
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.

TravelingNative71
Cherokee, NC19 contributions
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.

Diane S
1 contribution
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.

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