Afton Canyon Road Professional Reviews and Guides
"Colorful Afton Canyon’s fluted walls rise some 300 feet above the Mojave River. It is thought to have been carved over time as Pleistocene Manix Lake drained through a rift in the earth caused by an earthquake some 15,000 years ago. Today, it is one of only three places where the river has surface flow below its headwaters during nonflood periods. The presence of surface water here during most of the year makes it critical wildlife habitat. Early in the drive you’ll likely have a rare desert experience: fording water of surprising depth. The canyon is at the western end of the historic Mojave Road"
--Tony Huegel, California Desert Byways (Wilderness Press).
"This hike follows the Mojave River through the colorful Afton Canyon to a pair of shallow caves. The Mojave River normally flows underground, but impermeable rocks keep the waters on the surface in this region. During the wet season, the river is a dependable source of water here and it was an important resource to the Native Americans who lived in the region. In the past two centuries, the river has supported explorers, prospectors, and settlers following the Mojave Trail across the vast parched desert. In 1905, railroad tracks were built through the river canyon to link Utah to Los Angeles. The Union Pacific Railroad now operates these tracks. You are likely to get your feet wet, so sandals are recommended. At rare times of heavy flow in the Mojave River, this hike is not advisable."
--David & Jennifer Money Harris, Afoot and Afield: Inland Empire (Wilderness Press).
The area is very cool and interesting, but this guide is VERY out of date and misleading. We followed the directions and quickly got stuck in very thick brush. We had to wade across the swamp to get to the road. The area must have changed since this was written as it doesn't seem like anyone could get through much of the stream bed without a machete. I would suggest that you either cross the river at the road crossing, or carefully walk the train bridge and continue down the canyon from there. It's still worth the walk, just not as described.
Take this drive if you are traveling between Las Vegas from LA. The loop will take an extra hour or so, but the scenery is worth getting off the highway. Make sure you have four wheels turning for the sand and a little experience driving through same.
The rock formations in the canyon are very interesting, with a nicely laid out campground complete with picnic tables, out houses and water. When we drove through, there were no campers. We went during spring break and only saw 5 other vehicles the whole loop.
Conglomerate gravel forms the canyon walls leaving a few treasures for the amateur rock collector. Overall, don’t make this the destination, but definitely take this loop on your way to Vegas.
Sign in/up to upload photos.