Boondocking in Rainbow Basin 

October 8-10, 2016
Owl Canyon, Barstow, California

After a bunch of expensive California RV parks serving the masses of people traveling to the national parks, we decided it would be good for our budget & our mental health to try a night of boondocking on BLM land. We knew it would mean no hookups, but only $6.00/night. We knew it would mean leaving paved roads, but hopefully some nice views & more privacy.  As we left the highway and started driving the 3 miles of bumpy washboard dirt road into the middle of nowhere, I could feel my anxiety rising about this location that felt so far from civilization compared to what we’ve be used to so far. I menstioned to Brad, “I hope this campground isn’t full, but I also hope it’s not completely empty.”  It was only 3 miles from the highway, but they road was so slow-go and the desert so remote-looking, it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. We passed an old mobile home that Was missing parts of some walls. Breaking Bad definitely came to mind. Listening to our entire home rattling down the road, I wondered how many of our possessions would be broken by the time we arrived and I was wondering if it would be worth it to have a quieter night away from neighbors riding motorcycles at 11pm.

Beautiful and interesting joshua trees lined the roads.
Delay on the road due to a filming crew.
road through the desert to our BLM campground

When we finally passed the sign welcoming us into the Owl Canyon Campground, we were very pleasantly surprised. Our road through nothing had led us to a surprisingly clean and wel-developed campground, complete with multiple bathroom facilities, several small playgrounds, trails, and covered picnic areas at each site! We had quite a few other RV neighbors at the campground, but it was so spread out and the sites were so large, that it didn’t feel crowded in the least. We chose a site with an unobstructed view of the interesting colorful cliffs and set up home.

home sweet home
surprised to find playgrounds here!
Owl Canyon campground

Ironically enough, our cell reception was 100% better than it had been outside of sequoia, so we had our cake and ate it too – views & seclusion, but great connectivity! We caught up on some phone calls to family and brad was able to work on our MiFi.

Brad bringing home the bacon

We hiked out a canyon trail from our campground to explore the amazing canyon walls. I’ve never seen such colorful rocks, and all different colors all in the same area! The canyon walls looked like a picture out of a geology textbook showing the different eras of the creation of the mountains.

twilight hike
exploring the rocks under the moon
lizard friend
these pictures dont capture these brilliant colors!
Rainbow Basin
exploration team
Rainbow Basin, aptly named
I felt like we should be listening for sand people
rainbow Sunny


these pictures dont do the sunset justice, but the pink lines of cloud mirrored the lines of stone. It felt like walking through a painting.

The layers shot you out of the ground st 45* angles. I wasn’t lucky enough to find any myself, but we read that lots of fossils have been found in the area, and we made our own fossils to talk about how they are made.

fossil craft…Iron Man’s footprint
sister secrets. actually the girls had been pretending to be brads’s teachers all morning, and they were having a conference about his progress.

So far away from town we also enjoyed some stellar nighttime skies – gorgeous sunsets & endless stars. One night we all sat outside   under the stars to listen to Brad read the next chapter of The Silver Chair.  Once he finished reading and took coral inside, Sunny & I sat outside awhile to watch for shooting stars. We talked about how every star was a burning mass just like our sun and wondered how many other stars had planets orbiting them as well. “Do you think each of the stars has their own Jesuses?” She wanted to know.

evening hike

We enjoyed the campground (and the price) so much that we decided to stay an extra night. The only tricky part was that we had only filled up water tanks planning for one night, so we had to ration water a little. Besides that, our first boondocking experience was a great one that has left us ready for more!

goodbye Owl Canyon! You were worth the drive. (and nothing even broke!)

2 Comment

  1. Jeannie says: Reply

    I love reading your posts! Im so proud to have friends like you…your intentionally living life to the fullest and raising two incredible daughters! Keep going and keep posting. The Stacy’s are praying for you as you go! Love y’all !

    1. sarah says: Reply

      Thank you, Jeannie!

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