Afton Canyon Preserve

California BLM Region

The Grand Canyon of the Mojave

35 miles east of Barstow, CA in San Bernardino County
Barstow Resource Area
Phone: 760/255-8700

Water still flows most of the year through this mini Grand Canyon. Here sheer walls in every imaginable shade of pink tower 300 feet above the Mojave River. Four major trails of varying lengths take you past these varicolored cliffs and through nooks and crannies visited long ago by Native American people, Spanish missionaries and explorers, and mountain men. This rare ribbon of greenery in a unique geological setting also harbors an abundance of wildlife and birds.

Afton canyon

Known as the "Grand Canyon of the Mojave," Afton Canyon contains spectacular scenery. Not only does the canyon exhibit beautiful examples of wind and water erosion, but the colors in the side walls look as if someone poured various shades of red and green paint over them.

The canyon was formed 12,000 to 19,000 years ago when Lake Mannix drained. As this huge lake drained, it cut the canyon nearly to its present depth. Periodic floods continue this work.

The river at the 1st crossing in Afton Canyon

There is always water in Afton Canyon, and it is one of three places along the Mojave River where there is year-round surface flow. The presence of this water in Afton Canyon is extremely important for wildlife.

Afton Canyon is designated as a watchable wildlife area and a visit can be inspiring for avid wildlife enthusiasts. Bighorn sheep live in the area and may be seen coming to the river to drink. Various kinds of raptors nest on the canyon walls. If you camp at the campground, be prepared to share your campsite with kangaroo rats and roadrunners.

A single track runs through the canyon

One of the bridges crossing the Mojave River

Canyon walls show the erosion from water

Other popular activities are rockhounding, hiking, photography, horseback riding, and touring along the historic Mojave Road which runs through the canyon.

Video on Afton Canyon:

Afton Canyon can be reached by taking the Afton Road exit off Interstate 15 located 36 miles northeast of Barstow. Follow the graded gravel road for three miles to the canyon.

More Articles on:

Afton Canyon - The Call of Water
Cars Cannot Swim
Afton Canyon Reverie
Afton Canyon Preserve


Source: BLM and DesertUSA staff


Related DesertUSA Pages



Share this page on Facebook:

DesertUSA Newsletter -- We send articles on hiking, camping and places to explore, as well as animals, wildflower reports, plant information and much more. Sign up below or read more about the DesertUSA newsletter here. (It's Free.)

The Desert Environment
The North American Deserts
Desert Geological Terms


Enter Email:

Shop desert store



Copyright © 1996- and Digital West Media, Inc. - -