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by Walter Feller
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Mojave Desert Rivers:

Mojave River

The Mojave River could be called an "Upside-down and Backwards" river. "Upside-down", because the water flows below ground, under the sand. "Backwards", because instead of flowing toward the ocean as rivers do, the Mojave flows inland, terminating in the middle of the desert.

The ephemeral waters of the Mojave originate in the watershed of the San Bernardino Mountains. Water gathers from north of the ridgeline and flow down a series of creeks and washes, either underground, or combine in either Deep Creek or Miller Creek, the main above ground sources of the Mojave River before it slips beneath the surface.

The Mojave waters do come above ground. Usually, the river flow can be seen at the upper narrows between Victorville and Apple Valley, then downstream past Barstow at the lower narrows as the river begins its way through Afton Canyon. The river winds down the canyon and seeps into the sand disappearing before it reaches Soda Lake near Baker.

The Mojave Road followed along the river from Soda dry lake to the Cajon Pass. Desert indians used this as a trade route where water could easily be found on the way to and from the coast. Later, the Old Spanish Trail and Salt Lake Trail (Mormon Road/Trail) joined up with the river near where Daggett is today.

Map of the Mojave River



Natural History

    Formation of the Mojave River

    The Mojave River is the largest drainage system in the Mojave Desert. It's modern extent and capacity is only a ...

    Ancestral Mojave River

    This model was developed to show what the Mojave River and its network of lakes may have looked like before the ...

    Ecosections along the Mojave River

Human History

    On the Trail of a Spanish Pioneer

    Fr. Francisco Garces discovers the Mojave River in his journey across the Mojave to the San Gabriel Mission.

      Discovery of the Mojave River

      ... but there is not the slightest doubt of Garces' discovery and present position. Mojave river has no outlet, but ...

    Jedediah Smith

    He is credited with being the first American to travel overland to California through the southwest and the Mojave. ...

      Journal of Jedediah Smith

      ... he traveled along a branch of what became known as the Mojave Indian Trail, up the fickle Mojave River and into ...

    Pioneer of the Mojave

    This is the story of Victor Valley pioneer Captain A. G. Lane, the first permanent settler on the High Desert. In 1858 Lane located at a spot about one-half mile below the lower narrows of the Mojave River. ...
Other

    Afton Canyon

    Afton Canyon was carved by water draining from ancient Manix Lake, very likely through a crack caused by a strong earthquake ...

Photo of Mojave River at Mojave Narrows
A lush desert riparian habitat can be found at the upper narrows lying between present day Victorville and Apple Valley. An underground geologic formation forces the water above the surface here.

Communities Along the Mojave River
Hesperia
Apple Valley
Victorville
Oro Grande
Bryman
Helendale
Silver Lakes
Hodge
Lenwood
Barstow
Yermo
Daggett
Newberry Springs
Mojave River photo tours

Deep Creek Canyon
Deep Creek Hot Springs

Hesperia
Hesperia Lake

Apple Valley
Jess Ranch Lakes

Mojave Narrows

Helendale Bluffs

Helendale/Silver Lakes
Helendale Bluffs

Barstow
Mojave River Petroglyphs
Casa Del Desierto
new & updated - ecology: wildlife - plants - geography: places - MAPS - map/sat - roads & trails: route 66 - old west - communities - weather
ghost towns - gold mines - parks & public lands: wilderness - native culture - history - geology: natural features - 360 photos - glossary - comments

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