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Rainbow Basin Natural Area, Barstow

4.6
#3 of 6 in Things to do in Barstow
Wildlife Area Nature / Park
Rainbow Basin is a geological formation in the Calico Peaks range, located approximately north of Barstow in the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County, California.The Rainbow Basin has been designated a National Natural Landmark and is in the Bureau of Land Management managed Rainbow Basin Natural Area. Rainbow Basin is a mixture of private and public land, but it is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. It is accessible to the public via Irwin Road from Barstow to an unpaved loop road through the colorful basin.The basin is notable for: the fantastic and beautiful shapes of its rock formations: its fossil beds, which have provided scientists with valuable information about life during the middle Miocene epoch, between 12 and 16 million years ago; and to the northeast the Calico Early Man Site.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
92 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • We drove through there several years ago. It is an easy dirt road. There are colorful rock and dirt formations. This is a good winter time site seeing drive because it is too hot in the summer.  more »
  • The road to rainbow basin is not paved and just gravel. I think it's about 2 miles atleast on this road once turning off main road. Good for off road vehicles or cars you don't care about getting scra...  more »
  • Great, quick outing from Barstow. Worth the detour even if you're passing through. Fun little drive, only takes an hour or so. Lots of hiking trails if you have more time.  more »
Google
  • You pretty much have to check this out if you are taking any time in Barstow to be a tourist. Once done with Calico Ghost Town, get away from the touristy areas and enjoy the drive through this area. It's not quite as impressive as Artist's Drive in Death Valley but it's a close second! Also check out nearby Owl Canyon campground very cheap and nice BLM campground nearby.
  • Hidden Gem!!! Road is bumpy and narrow over there, Definitely recommend it if you have half day to spare in Barstow. The basin is notable for the beautiful shapes of its rock formations and its fossil beds. Only few miles outside of north Barstow is the Rainbow Basin Natural Area. Another eight miles dirt road will take you on a one way loop through the amazing, colorful rock formations.
  • Great camping area and beautiful area
  • You need to see it to believe it.
  • Beautiful place. Love the colors and formations. Geology is wonderful. Enjoyed the scenic drives as the valley walls get closer and closer as your car wanders through the basin. The road Is nicely graded that goes through a wash. Very epic, scenic panoramic views. Highly recommend spring, fall or winter times to visit as it can get hot!! We went in February, Not too far of a drive from Barstow or on the dirt road. We also hiked among the Mojave desert vegetation and enjoyed the Joshua trees. Think we got a glimpse of the lakebed with Goldstone. Great picture taking opportunities!

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