Rainbow Basin Natural Area
Barstow sits near the southwestern edge of the Mojave Desert, close to where the dry desert basin rises sharply into the nearly 12,000-foot peaks of the San Bernadino Mountains. The city itself owes much of its historical prosperity to the wealth of mineral resources that have been extracted from the Mojave. Gold, silver, and later borax were found in large quantities in the region. Today, the federal government owns much of the land under the care of either the National Parks Service or the Bureau of Land Management. While the desert can seem like a harsh landscape, bereft of life, it abounds with things to do. The Rainbow Basin area offers splendid opportunities for scenic hikes and off-roading. The name derives from the stratified rock layers in multicolored bands stretched across the Calico Range of mountains.