Owl Canyon Campground, CA

Full-time RVing is a wonderful way to live. Days on the road can be full-to-the-brim with adventure and new experiences and great people and generally make you feel amazingly, truly, alive.

Those kind of days get a lot of publicity because they’re exciting and people love hearing about them. What doesn’t get shared so much on Facebook, Instagram, in blogs, and on YouTube channels are the days and weeks between that are, well, rather a lot like real life.

My last travelogue left off on March 16th leaving the gorgeous Alabama Hills near Lone Pine, CA. This post picks up eight days later on the 24rd. What happened in the intervening week? A whole lot of nothing much. I motored south on 395 and found a little-used OHV area near Ridgecrest, CA to boondock on and escape the worst of the Spring Break rush. During that time I buckled down on the website redesign (coming soon!) and did the responsible, adult things that allow me to take other days off to have the lovely adventures you all enjoy reading about here on IO.

Okay, with that little dose of reality explained, back to the adventures!

March 24, Saturday

Following my usual pattern, I left Ridgecrest behind yesterday to spend one night at a full-hookup RV Park to take care of the tanks, laundry, charge all my devices fully, and other chores before starting the next boondocking stint. This time it was Newberry Mountain RV Park. These days I often skip mention of these brief pit stops (see aforementioned explanation), but this one I’m writing about because it’s a pretty cool place.

It’s tiny, only 18 sites (with four big dry-camping spots too), but the grounds are well manicured, the showerhouse/restrooms are cleaned several times a day, the pool is spotless, and there are two really cute ponds in the center in it. The water is a brilliant blue/green that looks dyed, but there are fish in it and this morning the place is teeming with ducks. A real treat for an overnight stop and $33 with Escapees/Xscapers membership, I recommend it if you’re driving through.

After breakfast, I hop back on I40 and motor north of Barstow to Owl Canyon Campground to meet with my friend Joni who’s on her way west to LA for a conference. This campground costs $6 a night and is dry camping, but for that you get a picnic table with pavilion, a grill, a firepit, and plenty of space.

Joni arrived yesterday and staked out site #16 which is at the back of the second loop with a clear view of the cell towers in the distance, it’s the only spot with reliable Verizon signal unboosted.

It’s a cool little BLM campground. The rocks here are very colorful, there are Joshua Trees on the hillsides, and to the south you get distant mountain views. We have dinner together and talk until sundown.

March 26, Monday

Yesterday morning Joni and I toured Rainbow Basin in Bertha, and then she went on our way. I decided to stay two more nights because this place is worth it.

Right from the campground starts Owl Canyon Trail, which I hike late this afternoon as a break from work.

The color are incredible! Sadly they don’t show up well on camera shaded by the lowering sun. The trail follows the dry creek bed (I’m sure it’s not dry after a rain) and is rocky and difficult in places. Sometimes the stone looks soft and melted.

In other places it’s in layers like sandstone. Pinks, oranges, yellows, and greens are all common.

There are also two spots where the canyon narrows into the slot, and it’s in the second one that I’m forced to turn back where large boulders have clogged the slot. The walls here are really cool, a softer stone with other rocks embedded in it. It’s very crumbly.

Often it’s the unexpected stops that I enjoy the most while RVing. There’s just something special about finding a place on accident and being pleasantly surprised.

March 27, Tuesday

Today I leave Owl Canyon and move on to Mojave National Preserve, just a short drive east on I40.

I’m a bit concerned that I’ve come here too late as the cold snap that drove me south to Ridgeland after Lone Pine has broken and towns around Mojave are expecting highs in the upper 80’s, even low 90’s. Fortunately, there turns out to be quite an elevation gain between Barstow and the preserve, and it’s lower 80’s here. My spot tonight is just south of I40 off of Kelbaker Drive. It’s a pretty small boondocking area, there’s one big lot usually taken by overnighters just off the pavement, and just past that is a little loop, which is where I set up camp.

Look at those cliffs! Being from the relatively flat midwest, I never tire of mountains. The moon is waxing and I catch it near sunset over some distant peaks.

Oh yes, this spot will do just fine.

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Dan on April 18, 2018 at 11:33 pm

    Being from the west I never tire of the mountains either. In my teens I lived for a bit in the Dayton Ohio area. Missed the west and tho mountains so much!

    • Becky Schade on April 19, 2018 at 3:07 pm

      I lived by the ocean before I ever saw true mountains. I thought I might miss the ocean but no, I like the mountains more!

  2. Sherri Burris on April 18, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    Thanks for the great photos and blog. I’m in search of the best place to go camping this summer and you have given me alot to think about. Maybe California will be the spot. It’s been many years since I have been there.

    • Becky Schade on April 19, 2018 at 3:06 pm

      Glad you’re enjoying my blog Sherri. There’s a lot to see in California and I doubt you would be disappointed if you went back. You’re welcome.

  3. Janie on April 15, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    I really like your new blog format. Beautiful photos

    • Becky Schade on April 16, 2018 at 12:23 pm

      Thanks Janie!

  4. Rene Kipp on April 15, 2018 at 2:04 pm

    I like your new blog style. I especially like the large size of your gorgeous photos 🙂 One thing missing, and maybe it’s still in the works, is that there isn’t an easy way to get to the ‘next’ or ‘previous’ post without going to the BLOG tab.
    Yes, life happens to the best of us. We haven’t been traveling much lately. We have plans to make a cross country road trip in June to see our new grandson. We’ll likely be gone for a month!

    • Becky Schade on April 16, 2018 at 12:23 pm

      Thanks Rene! I hope you have a good trip come June.

      You’re right, those links seem to have disappeared. I’ll ask my designer about getting them back when she’s back from vacation.

  5. Pamela Campbell on April 10, 2018 at 11:15 pm

    Hi, Becky –
    I think I’m following in your footsteps – accidentally. I left Dome Rock BLM April 9th, after waiting for a repair to one of my scissor jacks. I have been wanting to see Joshua Tree NP again. I was there about a month ago.
    It is beautiful, this time with a greener and fuller look to some of the vegetation. The little chollas were so fluffy. I really wanted to see the giant boulders and enjoyed them just as much this time.
    I remember a place you suggested in an older post on IO. It was Sawtooth CG, which I plan to visit tomorrow – more giant boulders! I’ll backtrack a bit from the Barstow Walmart parking lot where I am now.
    Then in a couple of days I want to go to Sequoia NP. My plan is to get back to Texas to see family in June. Hey, I should be heading north, not south!
    Thanks for all the really good information you have given. I’m using your blog as inspiration.
    Happy Trails.

    • Becky on April 11, 2018 at 5:28 pm

      Good to hear from you Pamela, and I’m glad your Casita adventure is going well. I skipped Joshua Tree this year, but loved it in previous visits. I will be getting to Sequoia again this year, but not with my Casita… that’s a story for a future post. Take care!

      • Pamelab on April 11, 2018 at 10:39 pm

        I found a great spot at Sawtooth C G! On closer inspection, I am picking up broken glass and trash from the party that must have been here. It’s BLM land, so I am happy to do my part by packing out with me what should have been packed out before. It seems that some of these beautiful natural spots that are closer to civilization are more apt to be vandalized in some way. Too bad. I’m looking forward to seeing where you go with your future camper😃👍🏻

  6. Jodee Gravel on April 10, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    Yep, it’s still real life out here 🙂 We too liked Newberry Mountain for a clean and convenient stop when we returned to SoCal. I hope they can keep it going.

    Owl Canyon looks wonderful too – love those beautiful deep washes and canyons.

    • Becky on April 11, 2018 at 5:26 pm

      It filled up the night I was there, so that’s promising.

  7. Jeff Pierce on April 10, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    Owl Canyon was a go-to spot at one time, with the trailer, but only time there in the RV got a flat tire! ARG! now it’s the Barstow WalMart for a quick en-route overnight. I miss owl Canyon it really is in a beautiful location.
    Your pictures show it off just fine and bring back fond memories of searching for the desert tortoise … never saw one there, nor owls either!

    • Becky on April 10, 2018 at 4:13 pm

      I have yet to see a desert tortoise in all my time in the southwest Jeff, luckily I can keep coming back to try every winter!

      Flat tires are no fun, did it come from the washboard? The road was pretty rough coming in, I just drove it under 5 mph like usually on boondocking roads.

  8. Annie on April 10, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    HI, Becky, great travels and I do love Mohave Preserve. My dad and I drove there there several years ago on a whim (I was trying all back roads to get to Vegas on a road trip) and we were both amazed by the beauty of it.

    I’m wondering if you mean Ridgecrest instead of Ridgeland? My cousins live up in Ridgecrest, which is why I’m wondering, since Ridgecrest is between Lone Pine and Barstow and looks like it was on your route.

    • Becky on April 10, 2018 at 4:10 pm

      No one ever talks about Mojave Preserve, I didn’t even know it existed until a few weeks ago. But boy, am I glad I decided to check it out.

      And, good catch! I did mean Ridgecrest…

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