L.A. Dog Lover's Escapes


Foglesong Park | Rainbow Basin | Stoddard Valley

This is a mighty dog-friendly town. In fact, it's just the place for a bruised canine ego to go after stepping on one too many threadbare doggy welcome mats. The folks here generally like dogs at least as much as they like people.

Parks, Beaches, and Recreation Areas

Foglesong Park

This is a decent-sized city park with plenty of shade for those searing summer days. The kids will like the playground, and the dogs are sure to enjoy the open grassy fields. Enter at Avenue G, just north of Nancy Street. (760) 252-4800.

Rainbow Basin Natural Area

If you or your dog like bones, faults, sediment deposits, or leash-free walks, don't miss this geological and anthropological wonder. Fossils of ancient animals are everywhere in the colorful sedimentary layers of the canyon walls (once a lake). Mastodons, camels, three-toed horses, rhinos, and dog-bears are among the animals whose remains have been discovered here. As you hike around, you'll be able to see insect fossils that are among the best-preserved in the world. You and your dog need to keep your paws off these fossils so they remain undisturbed for others to enjoy them.The geology of the place is also fascinating. Rainbow Basin's sediment deposits are textbook examples of folds, faults, and other disturbances of the earth's crust. If you're studying geology in school, this is the place to visit if you want to get the big picture.Unfortunately, your dog probably doesn't give a hoot about bones she can't eat and sediment she can't wallow in. She knows what's important-being able to be at your side, off leash, while you peruse the area. The Bureau of Land Management, which operates the park, has some of the most lenient, dog-friendly rules in the state for obedient pooches.The best place to take an off-leash dog is any flat area where she won't have much chance of disturbing this national natural landmark. There are no developed paths or trails, but since the place is nearly devoid of trees and thick underbrush, it's easy to navigate a course almost anywhere here. Be aware that you may run across desert kit foxes and bobcats. If you can't control your dog with critters like these around, keep her leashed. And make sure she goes nowhere near desert tortoises, the California state reptile (bet your dog didn't know that). Tortoises are easily traumatized, and contact with people or dogs could lead to their death.For your pet's sake, don't visit in the summer. Our favorite time to hike here is in late autumn, when it's crisp but not freezing. Leashed dogs are allowed to camp with you at the 31-site Owl Canyon Campground. The fee is $4 per vehicle. No reservations are necessary.From Highway 58 in Barstow, drive 5.5 miles north on Fort Irwin Road and turn left on Fossil Bed Road. It's a rough dirt road, and it will seem like an eternity of bouncing before you reach your destination, but it's actually just three miles. (760) 252-6060.Stoddard Valley Open AreaIs your dog tired of those five-acre parks where leashes are a must? Does she long for wide-open desert ranges where she can tear around without a care in the world (except rattlesnakes and their friends)?This 52,000-acre parcel of land just southeast of Barstow could be the answer to her poochie prayers. Not only are there mountains and endless open areas, there are also plenty of fascinating rock formations for you and your dog to explore.To enter at the northern end, where there's a campground, exit Interstate 15 at Sidewinder Road and drive the only way the road takes you. The campground has no developed sites, and no reservations or permits are required. The public land here is interspersed with private land, but Bureau of Land Management folks say unless an area is fenced off, posted, or developed, it's probably okay for hiking. (760) 252-6060.


Go west, young pup: How many dogs can say they watched an Old West shoot-out on a dusty saloon-packed street? How many can tell their buddies they rode aboard a narrow-gauge railroad through a silver mining boomtown/ghost town? And how many can brag that they got to see a piano player striking up old haunting tunes?Your leashed dog can be that lucky dog, if you take him on a visit to Calico Ghost Town. It's a campy, kitschy, but thoroughly entertaining town-turned-park. Calico thrived during the 1880s silver boom, and you can still roam around the tunnels of silver mines and stroll along the wooden sidewalks of Main Street. Some of the proprietors of the old-timey stores will probably even let your pooch go shopping with you. If you're a real fan of this era, why not spend the night? Camping costs $18 to $22. There are about 260 campsites available here. Reservations are recommended in the spring and fall. Better yet, if your dog doesn't do tents, rent one of the six cabins in the ghost town. They're not haunted, but the price is so low you'll howl for joy: $28 for up to four people. A $25 deposit is required.Admission to Calico Ghost Town Regional Park is $6 for adults, $3 for children. Train rides are $2.25 for adults, $1.25 for children. Dawgs go free. From Barstow, drive about six miles east on Interstate 15, and exit at Calico Ghost Town/Ghost Town Road. Drive north for three miles. When you see a yellow wagon, you'll know you're there. (760) 254-2122.


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