Within this Area of Critical Environmental Concern, routes are posted with "open" route markers. Use of passenger vehicles and four-wheel drive vehicles is permitted only on designated and signed open routes. Staging of off-highway vehicles (e.g. ATVs) is not allowed in the Rainbow Basin area or at Owl Canyon Campground.
The Fossil Canyon Loop Road is an interesting route for vehicle touring. Keep in mind that this one-way narrow dirt road is best driven with a high clearance or four-wheel drive vehicles.
FOSSIL CANYON LOOP ROAD IS NOT RECOMMENDED FOR PASSENGER VEHICLES AND SHOULD NEVER BE ATTEMPTED BY MOTORHOMES OR VEHICLES TOWING TRAILERS.
- BROWN markers with route numbers or road names indicate an OPEN ROUTE for use by motorized vehicles.
- RED markers indicate routes that have been CLOSED to all vehicle travel.
- No marker indicates aCLOSED route. Within the Rainbow Basin area, travel is permitted only on designated OPEN routes.
Once you’ve filled your gas tank (and your tummy tank), it’s time to leave civilization behind again. You won’t miss the sounds of the city one bit as you head north on Irwin Road, out of Barstow, and enter the realm of Rainbow Basin, a national natural landmark, where the colors of the rainbow decorate gorge walls housing an inestimable quantity of fossilized remains that are ten to thirty million years old.
And may the force be with you as you drive through the rock-strewn, other worldly landscape of Owl Canyon, where the movie Star Wars was filmed. If your kids don’t know R2D2 from C3PO, this would be the place to fill them in.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) field office in Barstow (760–252–6091) administers Owl Canyon; general location: 8 miles north of downtown Barstow, off Irwin Road. The canyon is open year-round and free, although there is a $6.00 fee for primitive camping sites. Activities to enjoy include bird-watching, camping, hiking or backpacking, picnicking, rockhounding or gold panning, scenic driving, and wildlife and wildflower viewing.