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Owl Canyon hike

Mojave Desert, California

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Owl Canyon hike

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  • Owl Canyon Trailhead.- Owl Canyon hike
  • You'll see why this area is called the Rainbow Basin.- Owl Canyon hike
  • The trail winds down through a broad opening that quickly narrows.- Owl Canyon hike
  • Mudstone in Owl Canyon.- Owl Canyon hike
  • Steep canyon walls.- Owl Canyon hike
  • Nature's bouquet in Owl Canyon.- Owl Canyon hike
  • Lizards of many varieties call Owl Canyon home.- Owl Canyon hike
  • The canyon walls look like they're barely holding on in some places.- Owl Canyon hike
  • Golden rocks stand out among the sandy bottomed canyon.- Owl Canyon hike
  • Buckthorn cholla at the edge of Owl Canyon- Owl Canyon hike
  • Tiny pink flowers bring a splash of color to this shrub.- Owl Canyon hike
  • All the colors in Owl Canyon.- Owl Canyon hike
  • Flashes of purple color in the canyon.- Owl Canyon hike
  • The birthplace of rocks.- Owl Canyon hike
  • A sandy slope in Owl Canyon.- Owl Canyon hike
  • Tilted rock layers tell the geological history of Owl Canyon.- Owl Canyon hike
  • In some places, the canyon narrows into these short slots.- Owl Canyon hike
  • There are some scrambly parts of the canyon trail.- Owl Canyon hike
  • Spring brings bright green vegetation to the dry canyon.- Owl Canyon hike
  • Prince's plume.- Owl Canyon hike
  • Tiny desert flowers bloom for a short period.- Owl Canyon hike
  • At the end of the canyon, views of the bright blue sky emerge.- Owl Canyon hike
  • A massive green wall marks the beginning of the end of Owl Canyon.- Owl Canyon hike
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Beautiful views, fun scrambling.
Cons: 
Potential for flash floods.
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Region:
Mojave Desert, CA
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
200.00 ft (60.96 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
4.00 mi (6.44 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
3,050.00 ft (929.64 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

Located in the Rainbow Basin Natural Area, Owl Canyon is a big bang-for-your-buck hike. In only 2 miles you'll discover a myriad of geological formations, scramble through a little slot canyon, enjoy seasonal wildflowers and end up at an expansive view of the colorful basin. 

Owl Canyon cuts through several layers of volcanic and sedimentary rock. Each layer, with various colors and textures, contrasts with its neighbors, making a spectacular backdrop for this hike. With each curve of the canyon you'll see something new: cracked mudstone, conglomerate studded with multicolored rocks, and bright green clay. Visit the canyon in the spring to see even more colors: yellow prince's plume, red paintbrush and purple phacelia.

Find the trailhead at the north end of the campground and drop down into the canyon. From there, explore as far as your heart desires. There are several side canyons and caves worth exploring if you've got a sense of direction and a sense of adventure. Bring a headlamp and walk through the tunnel about a half mile up the canyon. See what other surprises you can find. Bring plenty of water and sun protection, as you won't find much shade. And check the forecast. If there's any rainfall predicted, stay out of the canyon. A flash flood would be dangerous here.

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Updates, Tips + Comments

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

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Adventure Community

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