Page Type: Canyon
Lat/Lon: 35.03917°N / 116.38167°W
Activities: Hiking, Scrambling
Season: Spring, Fall, Winter


Afton Canyon is often referred to as the "Grand Canyon of the Mojave."  It is a colorful canyon created by a flood 18,000 years ago.  Today this is one of the only locations where the waters of the Mojave River flow above ground.  

Afton Canyon is BLM land and 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. 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.

Because there is water here, Afton Canyon is an ideal location for bird and wildlife viewing. The area is superb for hiking, hunting, camping, nature study, rock hounding, horseback riding, train spotting, and vehicle touring.  Since the campground is recessed into the canyon and shielded from light it is a poular destination for star-gazing. Check local weather forecasts before visiting the area. 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.  

This area is very hot in the summer and can also get quite cold in the winter.  Click here for a weather forecast from the National Weather Service.

There are many side canyons worth exploring featuring colorful geology, caves, slot canyons, archaeological and historical sites, etc.

Getting There

Take Highway 15 northeast of Barstow for about 37 miles and exit on Afton Road.  Go right about 3.5 miles to the campground and the beginning of the canyon.  4WD and high clearance recommended beyond the campground - there are three river crossings that can be very muddy, as well as some soft sandy sections, so having a buddy with a tow-rope wouldn't be a bad idea, either.  Of course on foot you can get to most anywhere, but do be careful of soft slippery mud near the river - waterproof boots and gaiters recommended.

Red Tape

  • Camping and campfires are not permitted outside the designated campground.
  • Vehicles are restricted to posted open routes.
  • State and federal hunting regulations are in effect during small game bird hunting seasons.
  • Recreational Shooting is not permitted in the Afton Natural Area.
  • All applicable county, state and federal laws and regulations apply.
  • The Afton Canyon area is a mix of public and private lands including those held by the Southern Pacific Railroad. Please respect the rights of private land owners. 


Camping is permitted only in the Afton Canyon Campground. This campground 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.

External Links

Afton Canyon info from

For more information, contact BLM Barstow