GREAT VIEW: Afton Canyon is the one place you can see the Mojave River above ground all year long.
May 10, 2010
by the Bureau of Land Management
Victorville Daily Press
Some know it as “The Grand Canyon of the Mojave.” Others simply call it Afton Canyon. And it’s the only place where the Mojave River flows above ground all year long.
The canyon’s surface water makes it unique in the Southern California desert. Known for its dramatic geological formations, Afton is an ideal location for bird and wildlife viewing.
The area is also popular for hiking, hunting, camping, rock hounding, horseback riding and vehicle touring.
Wildlife viewing is best during early morning and evening hours. In the canyon, birds tend to gather in thick vegetation. Along washes and streams, vegetation is critical for wildlife food and shelter. Many routes in Afton Canyon have been closed to vehicle travel to protect these wildlife habitats.
Early Western explorers passing through this area included Jedediah Smith, Kit Carson and John Charles Fremont.
The route following this road, known as the Mojave Road, is a rugged four-wheel-drive scenic tour running from Fort Mojave on the Colorado River near Needles to Camp Cady near Harvard Road.
Afton Canyon Natural Area is located 37 miles northeast of Barstow along Interstate 15 between the Afton Road and Basin Road exits.
Afton Canyon is designated as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern to protect plant and wildlife habitat and to preserve scenic values of the riparian area within the canyon.
Within this Area of Critical Environmental Concern, routes are posted with “Open Route” markers.
Routes have been selected to allow access to the area and to the Mojave Road while preserving stream-side environments. Use of all vehicles is permitted only on designated open routes. Thunderstorms can result in flash floods in canyons and washes.
Tell a friend or neighbor where you are going and when to expect your return.
Bring sufficient water, food, clothing, tools and first aid supplies for your activity.