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. 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 east of Barstow.
Afton Canyon is one of few places where the Mojave River flows
above ground making Afton an ideal location for bird and wildlife viewing.
The area is ideal for hiking, hunting, camping, nature study, rock
hounding, horseback riding, and vehicle touring. 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.
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. Land status can be found
on Desert Access Guide maps covering this area and can be purchased at
California Desert BLM offices.
Hiking and Sightseeing:
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
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.
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).
Motorized Vehicle Use:
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 riparian (stream-side) environments. Use of all vehicles is
permitted only on designated open routes.
- BROWN markers with route
numbers indicate an OPEN ROUTE for use by motorized
- RED markers indicate
routes that have been CLOSED to all vehicle travel.
- No marker indicates a CLOSED
- Within the Afton Canyon area, travel is
restricted to designated OPEN ROUTES.
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.
On this map, it is 3½ miles from the
Afton Rd. Exit to the campground.
Weather extremes and poisonous snakes are desert hazards common
to this area. Afton Canyon has a flash flood risk as well. Avoid low-lying
areas during storms and remember that storms upstream can result in
flooding, even though it is not raining in your immediate area.
Rules and Regulations:
Private land owners, legal grazing allotments, and mining
operations with Operations Plans on file with the BLM within the Afton
Canyon area have rights of access. It is not the intent of BLM to affect
private rights or interests in the area. (This does not imply any BLM
jurisdiction over private lands within the area, unless authorized by the
- Camping and campfires are not permitted
outside the designated campground.
- Vehicles are restricted to posted open
- 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.