BLM Campground Review – Owl Canyon, Rainbow Basin, Barstow, CA

Biking around pretty Rainbow Basin

A lovely $6/night BLM campground in colorful Rainbow Basin in south-central CA.

Link to campground here: Owl Canyon, Rainbow Basin, Barstow, CA
Link to map location here: Owl Canyon, Rainbow Basin, Barstow, CA

  1. Site Quality = 3/5
    Typical simple BLM sites here, but with some nice touches. All sites are basically firm dirt clearings with  no hookups and wide variations in both size and levelness. However there is decent separation and a good choice of sites for bigger rigs esp. towards the very back (#22-25) and the right-hand loop (#16-21). Lovely, brand new “sitting areas” with shelter, picnic table and firepit/grill. Great views all around of both the pretty Rainbow Basin rocks and down towards the valley.
  2.  Facilities = 2.5/5
    Simple, but very nice facilities. Large, clean pit toilets at several spots plus several playground areas. There is a “limited use” water spigot at the campground, but it’s sometimes dry and recommended to use it sparingly (so fill up before coming). NO dump station.
  3. Location = 4.5/5
    As a pure nature stop this is simply lovely. You’re right in the middle of the gorgeous Rainbow Basin with lots of biking/hiking/exploring all around. Also within 10 miles of Barstow for shopping needs. Only slight ding is there is a 5-mile dirt road (excellent, wide, flat and graded but nonetheless dusty) to get into camp.
  4. Pet Friendliness = 5/5
    Wonderful pooch park yet again. Lots of space to hang out in camp plus lots of lovely hiking trails in Rainbow Canyon.

Overall Rating = 3.75
 Camp in the midst of colorful Rainbow Basin!

Summary: This little campground is definitely a bit of a hidden gem. It’s a simple BLM campground with dirt clearings and no hookups, but it’s got all kinds of nice little touches. The entire spot appears to have been completely renovated recently so there are truly lovely “sitting areas” with brand-new shelters, picnic tables, fire-pit/grill plus very nice pit toilets and even several playgrounds. Sites have a bit of variation in size/levelness, but there’s a decent selection for “beast”-size. All the sites are tucked into the lovely and colorful Rainbow Canyon so you have gorgeous rock views as well as a deeper view south into the valley plus miles of hiking, exploring and biking. The only slight ding is that it does take 5 miles of dirt road (Fossil Bed Road) to get here. However the dirt road is very wide, flat and very nicely graded (probably the nicest dirt road I’ve ever driven!). On a dry day it’s dusty, but an easy drive for just about any-sized rig. On a wet day it might get rougher plus there is a “dip” into a wash just before entering the campground that can get flooded so check conditions before going. Overall a rarely used and simply gorgeous little spot. It’s well worth the drive and we’d definitely stop here again.

 Extra Info:  Mostly 1X on Verizon here, but we were able to get voice and a slow, usable data signal using our external antenna/amp. 37 total sites costing $6/night no hookups, all first-come-first-serve. Limited-use water on-site, but NO dump station

 Extra, Extra Info – BOONDOCKING? Turns out Barstow is an OHV-riders paradise and there are large tracks of OHV (off-highway vehicle) BLM land just south of the city along Hwy 247 in Stoddard Valley that allow free dispersed camping with a 14-day limit. When we drove past it looked like easy access with large, dirt roads (Stoddard Wells Road) and we saw quite a few toy-haulers and big-rigs sprinkled around the valley. Just be prepared for noise (motorbikes/ATVers) and company.

View of our site #22 near back of campground
View of back of campground. We're in #22 on left. Alex's rig is tucked into #24 at very back.
View of nicely isolated site #16 in right-hand loop. This looks toward the valley.
Another neat site tucked into the rocks #21
View down entrance of campground. Site #9 on right behind the joshua tree.
View down other side of entrance (site #29 on left)
Typical "sitting area", site #23 shown
View of one of the playground areas
The very nice graded 5-mile dirt road that takes you into camp.
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do

  1. Sue Bank says

    We’re so excited to try some of your wonderful suggestions – places that are beautiful, quiet, inexpensive and where our dogs can really enjoy stretching their legs! One question, though, is there generally any air tv available in these last few places (CA)?

    • libertatemamo says

      Hmmm…can’t answer that one unfortunately. There might be since you’re fairly close to cities in both cases, but we didn’t try it out. Too busy outside to watch any TV :)

    • Abigail Hartjen says

      No their is not air tv available if you want to have tv you haveto bring you own. Satellite might work it depends on what camp sight your in.

  2. Tom Hillegass says

    Hi Paul and Nina:

    Just found your great blog. I plan to visit Owl Canyon next week on my way to Death Valley. Dont know if you know of my campground website but maybe it would be useful to you in your travels.

    Tom Hillegass

    • libertatemamo says

      Yup, know the website well and have promoted it many, many times in my blog. It’s my go-to site for finding public campgrounds! Enjoy Owl Canyon. It’s a very pretty place.

  3. says

    Merry Christmas to you both. We visited this campsite on a day trip a couple of weeks ago and we agree it’s a lovely place. I just discovered your blog and it’s an excellent source of information. Thanks.


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