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Afton Canyon is one of the few sites in the desert where
the Mojave River surfaces and forms marshy oases.
Consequently, the area is particularly rich biologically.
Vegetation around the wet areas includes cottonwood,
Populus fremontii, black willow, Salix gooddingii, and cattail, Typha sp.
The rocky upper slopes are sparsely covered with creosote bush scrub,
while there is a desert holly, Atriplex hymenelytra, community on the lower
Bighorn sheep, Ovis canadensis, water here.
Birds, both resident and, particularly, migratory in season, are abundant
in the canyon. A rare Bembidion sp.
occurs, as does an undescribed darkling beetle, Tribolium.
Along portions of the canyon the walls are almost sheer,
rising some 180 meters (600 feet) from the river floor.
The gorge, which was cut by the river during the Plio-Pleistocene,
exhibits a variety of pre-Cenozoic granitics and metamorphics as well as the
nonmarine sedimentaries of the Upper Miocene Barstovian formation.
railroad runs the length of the
can yon. The
western marsh has been
disturbed by recreationalists; the eastern is in relatively good shape.
yon. The western marsh has been disturbed by recreationalists; the eastern is in relatively good shape.
educational, observational. Some
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