Afton Canyon

Quick Facts

Afton Canyon


(760) 252-6000

Map Directions

Things To Do


Afton Canyon is one of the few places where the Mojave River flows above ground making Afton an ideal location for bird and wildlife viewing. Known locally as "The Grand Canyon of the Mojave" for its dramatic geological formations, this is the only place where the Mojave River flows above ground year-round, providing significant riparian (riverbank) wildlife habitat amid the desert. Since prehistoric times, the natural bounty created by this water source has made Afton Canyon a focus for living things. Dense willows and cottonwoods shaded the river, and thickets of mesquite produced bean pods for food. The ponds, marshes and streams provided habitat for a wide variety of wildlife species. The area is ideal for hiking, hunting, camping, nature study, rock hounding, horseback riding, and vehicle touring. The Afton Canyon area is a mix of public and private lands including those held by the Southern Pacific Railroad. 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 4-wheel-drive scenic tour running from Fort Mojave on the Colorado River near Needles to Camp Cady near Harvard Road. Camping is permitted at the Afton Canyon Campground, on a first-come first-served fee basis.

Map of Afton Canyon

Latitude, Longitude: 35.043594, -116.285852



  • Boating

    Please contact the park for information on boating.

  • Camping

    Camping is permitted only in the Afton Canyon Campground and is a first-come first-served fee area. There are tables and fire grates at each campsite. Pit toilets are located in the center of the campground. Backpacking is welcome, however campfires are not permitted outside the designated campground.

  • Fishing

    Please contact the park for information on fishing.

  • Hiking

    Bring your camera and binoculars! Afton Canyon has a diverse landscape of hills, canyons and washes. Multicolored rock walls and changing light conditions make for many photographic opportunities. Washes and stream channels are good hiking trails and excellent for experiencing natural conditions.

  • Hunting

    You can hunt dove, quail and chuckar but season and bag limits vary. Call the California Department of Fish and game at (310) 590-5132 for current hunting information. Hunting in the immediate vicinity of wildlife waters, guzzlers included, is limited to 30 minutes (California Fish and Game Commission, title 14). Hunting is permitted with shotguns only (shot shells, no rifled slugs) in the area. Recreational shooting of all guns is not permitted within the boundaries of the Afton Canyon Natural Area or shooting of any kind is not allowed within ½ a mile of the designated campground.

    Get permission before using firearms on private land. On public lands, all county, state and federal regulations are in effect. Please note that firearms use within 150 yards of livestock or buildings is not allowed (San Bernardino County Ordinance 22.011).

  • Picnicking

    Enjoy a picnic by the red rocks.

  • Wildlife Watching

    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.


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.



Afton Canyon Natural Area is located 37 miles northeast of Barstow along Interstate 15 between the Afton Road and Basin Road exits. From Barstow, take Interstate 15 east for 35 miles. Take the Afton exit south. Drive south three miles on graded dirt road to parking area for the fully-developed Afton Campground. Visitor information is available at the campground and at all entrances into the area.

Phone Numbers


(760) 252-6000