Out and About in Afton Canyon

In partnership with the Hispanic Access Foundation, the Amargosa Conservancy has been leading trips to Afton Canyon, in the new Mojave Trails National Monument. Many groups throughout the California desert are trying to provide information and access to the beautiful lands that belong to all citizens of United States.


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On National Public Lands Day [always the last Saturday in September, so this year it was September 24, 2016], the Amargosa Conservancy traveled south to Afton Canyon. There, Tanya and Conservancy volunteers met Pastor Velazquez and a group of 21 others from El Nuevo Comienzo, in Victorville, CA. The explorations of  this northern part of the new Mojave Trails National Monument took participants to a slot canyon, a historic railroad line, and a chance to dip toes in the Mojave River.

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One of the participants in the event, 18-year-old Jocelyn Giron, wrote these words about her experience that day:

For those of us who have the opportunity and take the time to explore the desert, we know it has so much to offer. Seeing different types of birds and plants was amazing! Being able to find evidence of animals that were in the same spot we were in, finding their drinking spot, walking a big horned sheep trail.

It wasn’t so easy, as you can see in the pictures, going on the sheep trail, but it was sure an adventure!  I, with all honesty, can say this trip to Afton Canyon was an amazing experience. Also, seeing that there is so much life out in the desert, and so much we can do to preserve it.

Afton is so much different and more beautiful than my usual surroundings. Honestly, I find no similarities with the beauty that’s out there. It is truly unique.

Visiting this place has given me knowledge about what is really out there and it’s nice knowing that there is a specific day (National Public Lands Day – the last Saturday of September!) where we can take the time appreciate God’s precious creation, and without a doubt I would definitely do it again! Spending either morning, night, or all day at a place like Afton Canyon, part of America’s public land system, is a spectacular way to spend time in a beautiful place with people you love.

-Jocelyn Giron


On October 8-9, a smaller group returned to the Canyon for a weekend campout.

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Star Ruiz, who attended the campout, took some time to share her reflections with us:

Good afternoon, and thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to read this reflection on my experience. For this reflection I will be touching a few different topics; such as what I have learned and what its like being out with an infant, to a few others.

I have been able to learn so much in just a couple of weeks. First off, WOW! I have driven through interstate 15 so many times but not once have I thought about what is out there. I thought it was nothing but desert and scary reptiles, animals and nothing that could possibly interest me. I was so wrong. I have found that there are beautiful places that not many people, including myself, don’t know about.

Afton Canyon is a breathtaking location that thousands of people drive near everyday yet they don’t know it exists. I will be a little honest I never knew National Public Lands Day even existed but I am looking forward to it. We do not need an actual day to go out and enjoy our lands but it did make it that much more special that we were able to visit this place on a National Day. I can sure say it will not be my only day being there.

We had such an amazing experience enjoying the nature that’s around us, and with the bird expert we were able to see the different birds in different weather. We definitely need an official camp site in this area, it would be such a huge benefit to our community and it will also impact many college students, such as the ones we met that weekend. We also learned the types of soil and grounds from Tanya, and the plants and change of weather. It was the nice team that was there with Tanya and served us in such a marvelous way, adding so many details to the weekend that we would do it again, and again, and again.

What is it like being out with an infant? Difficult at times but not impossible, for our first trip to Afton Canyon I had no idea what we were going to do. My husband, Edgar, and I decided to bring our 9-month old, Jessia, along for the trip. When we were informed about what we were going to do I panicked because I was not prepared to go into the canyon with an infant. Little did I know she was going to enjoy it as much as I did.

These lands have so much value to them and we have been taking them for granted. Being able to go out into these beautiful places has been life changing and a great experience. I am looking forward to seeing and learning about more places. These deserts have so much to offer yet we take them for granted. I would love to thank Hispanic Access/Por la Creacion as well as the Amargosa Conservancy for such a wonderful weekend.

-Star Ruiz


The Conservancy would also like to thank Hispanic Access, Por la Creacion, the Conservation Lands Foundation, and our fantastic volunteers for making events like these possible!

Curious about other opportunites to experience your desert lands? Check this out: