Tag Archives: Fossils
The Rainbow Basin and Owl Canyon areas both can be easily accessed from the city of Barstow. Start at Irwin Street and follow for 5.9 miles. Turn left on Fossil Bed Road and drive for 2.9 miles. Turn right on Rainbow Basin, from here you can follow Rainbow Basin in a 4-mile loop for the scenic drive. To access the Owl Canyon hike follow Rainbow Basin for .3 miles, turn right on Owl Canyon Road. Follow Owl Canyon Road for 1.6 miles through the camp ground until the road ends. The trail head begins at the end of the pavement.
First we’ll cover the 4-mile loop at Rainbow Basin. Rainbow Basin has a diverse landscape of hills, canyons and washes. The area is also known for the fossils of mastodons, pronghorns, camels and three-toed horses. The BLM lists the Rainbow Basin as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern. Please keep that in mind while visiting, and stick strictly to the rule of leave nothing but foot prints. During this drive there are plenty of places to pull off to do some hiking and photography. The basin reminded me of Artist Palette in Death Valley, I’d go as far to say that I found Rainbow Basin far more beautiful and intriguing.
The Owl Canyon Hike begins at the Owl Canyon Camping area. It is a 4 mile round trip hike, and described as moderately difficult. Essentially the Own Canyon Hike covers the eastern portion of Rainbow Basin. You will come across some awesome rock formations, colors, and plant life during your hike.
Close to the half mile point of the hike there will be a cave/tunnel on the right side of the trail. You can follow this short tunnel to the other side where a short trail will take you up the canyon a short piece. I decided to climb the rocky mountain side at the end of this short side trail, and was rewarded with an amazing view of the valley. If you have ability to do the climb, I highly recommend it!
Back on the main trail the canyon will begin to narrow, and some areas become a little more difficult with some scrambling. At around the one mile point you encounter the most difficult part of the trail. You will have to climb the wall of an 8 foot dry waterfall. I believe this is the point that most people turn around and head back. If you continue up the trail, it eventually will open back up again before the trail comes to an end.
Allow yourself 2-3 hours for the entire round trip hike for ultimate enjoyment.