Home » 2014 Southwest Deserts and Yosemite

Afton Canyon Natural Area , CA

Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 7:45am by Lolo
187 miles and 3.5 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay


Afton Canyon Campground by MoonlightAfton Canyon Campground by MoonlightOne long day of driving without any fun is okay, but not two, so we started looking for something to entertain us along route.

The Mojave National Preserve seemed interesting, but a few phone calls confirmed my suspicions that camping there was not going to be easy. The one developed campground was not easily accessible from the north, and the primitive roadside camping on sandy roads didn’t sound like a great idea with an RV with car in tow.

However, our reliable “Moon West Coast RV Camping” Book gave us another option – Afton Canyon, just 25 miles west of the entrance to the Mojave Preserve. Not only did the Canyon seem interesting in its own right, but it would also allow us to explore Mojave the next day en-route to Las Vegas.

Afton Canyon was only 3 miles off of I15, but it was a very bumpy 3, which made us question a bit the wisdom of our decision. However, the guide book did say that the campground accommodated RVs up to 30 feet, so if they could do it so could we. Just to be safe, we decoupled the car from the motorhome and did the final stretch separately.

The campground was small, only 22 sites, and had only one other occupant. It was pretty desolate, but in a good way. The scenery was nice – colorful canyon walls on one end and an old railroad bridge on the other.

There wasn’t a whole lot to do here, but the guide book did describe a nice hike to a pair of caves in the canyon walls. Unfortunately, the directions for the hike were to follow the Mojave River, which in normal seasons flows above ground through Afton Canyon. However, this was not a normal year, and California’s multi-year draught had taken its toll and the river along with it. We wandered around aimlessly for a while, following what we thought was a dry riverbed, but finally gave up and wandered over to the picturesque railroad bridge and took some photos.

I was a bit frustrated on our failed hiking attempt, but still it was a nice stop – much better than our Flying J the previous night.


Afton Canyon CampsiteAfton Canyon CampsiteAfton Canyon, located 37 miles northeast of Barstow, is often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Mojave. This multi-colored canyon was created over 18,000 years ago by a massive flood. Today, it is one of the few places where the Mojave River still flows above ground, making it an ideal location for bird and wildlife viewing. This unique riparian area has been designated as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.

Activities in the canyon include hiking, 4-wheel driving, rock hounding, hunting, wildlife viewing, and star gazing. .

There is one developed campground, which has no hookups and is first-come-first-served. To reach the canyon, drive 36.6 miles north on I15 to the Afton Road exit. Follow the dirt road for 3.4 miles to the Afton Canyon campground.

Afton Canyon Natural Area location map in "high definition"

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