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3.2
19 votes

Cottonwood Campground

Cottonwood Oasis Road, California 92277 USA

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Sat 12a-11:59p
  • Independent
  • Pet Friendly
  • Wheelchair
    Accessible
  • Public
    Restrooms
  • No Wifi
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“in the McCain Valley Recreation Area”

Overview Cottonwood Campground is one of the best places in Joshua Tree National Park for stargazing and wildflower viewing. Easy access from Interstate 10, makes it a popular stopover for travelers. Visitors who enjoy warm, dry winters flock to Joshua Tree from October through May, when temperatures reach between 70 to 90-degrees during the day and drop to 40 to 60-degrees at night. Summer is the park's off-season due to the uncomfortably high desert heat. Cottonwood Campground is at an elevation of 3,000 ft. and has little shade from vegetation.Recreation Stargazing and wildflower viewing are among the most popular activities at this facility. Several hiking trails leave from the campground and several more trailheads are within a one to two hour drive.Facilities There are 62 sites, each with a fire ring and picnic table. There are no electrical hookups. Drinking water and flush toilets are provided.Natural Features The landscape around Cottonwood is that of the Colorado Desert, which encompasses the southern edge of the park and a large portion of Southern California. Rather than being surrounded by large rock formations and uniquely-shaped Joshua trees, like campgrounds in the northern section, this facility overlooks flat, open-desert shrubland. It is also further from towns or cities that would contribute light pollution. As a result, it offers wide, dark and uninterrupted views of the night sky that draw astronomers and amateur sky watchers alike. Cottonwood is at a lower elevation than other campgrounds within the park, so desert wildflowers begin to bloom earlier in the spring than in other locations. Flowering occurs anytime between the beginning of February to the end of March; timing varies depending on the amount of winter precipitation and the arrival of warm temperatures. Nearby Attractions The General Patton Memorial Museum, a U.S. military history museum, is just over 12 miles away in the town of Chiriaco.

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Reviews of Cottonwood Campground

17 people have reviewed this location

Ratings Summary

3.6 Access
3.9 Location
4.5 Cleanliness
3.2 Site Quality
4.1 Noise

Cell Coverage

Verizon 5G

Confirmed by 9 users | Last reported on December 18, 2023

AT&T 5G

Confirmed by 3 users | Last reported on March 05, 2020

T-Mobile 5G

Confirmed by 3 users | Last reported on November 10, 2021
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  • 266 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
February 18, 2017
Rated

This is the only option for camping in the southern part of the park. We came in on a Sat. (dumb move) and all the other campgrounds were full. When we made it down to Cottonwood Campground we were pleasantly surprised to find it only about two thirds full and so we had plenty of sites to chose from. Cottonwood doesn't get the same amount of use as the other campgrounds because it's in the southernmost section of the park which in some ways does not have as many things to do or sights to see. For instance, you won't see any Joshua Trees near Cottonwood Campground nor find the big boulders so favored by rock climbers.

Still,this campground is not without its charms. The sites are spacious, well laid out, and have some degree of privacy and pretty desert views. Each site has a picnic table and fire pit. There are flush toilets and a dump station with potable water. A trail from the campground will take you to the pretty little Cottonwood Oasis and well as on to longer hikes. It's just a short trip to a nice little visitors center which on our visit was staffed with some of the friendliest rangers we've ever encountered.

All in all this is a nice option, especially if you find the other park campgrounds full,

Our rate reflects our Senior Access Pass rate. Regular fee is $20/night.

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roadtripper4458193 would stay here again

Nightly Rate: $10.00

Days Stayed: 2

Site Number: -

4 Access
4 Location
5 Cleanliness
5 Site Quality
5 Noise

Reviewed by
Dick & Dorene

  • 63 Reviews
  • 12 Helpful
February 20, 2017
Rated

Most recent stay 4-28-16 [I’m late on writing my review] ~ We camp in a "Tear Drop” style RV only 15' long w/o toilet or shower and thus rely on condition of campgrounds facilities and this National Park Campground is w/o the amenities of other private or some state campgrounds ~ BUT they do have a water fill / dump station on site and restroom with flush toilets and sinks [no hot water no electricity] that being said we still loved the true “camping” experience. Ran on battery power and propane for cooking and frig.

Excellent large site with asphalt pad, sturdy picnic table, water spigot 50’ away and roomy site with green-way between and not close or tight against any of neighbor sites. Had plenty of room for our dinning fly shelter ~ could have added a tent even with our rv - campground is located at most southern end of park ~ 1st come 1st served and we had no problem selecting site ~ take 45 min to drive through park to reach other “attractions” and campgrounds of the most popular “northern” end. Lot’s of pull out and points of interest along the way, you won’t miss a thing.

About a 15 degree temp change difference between south and north – warmer on the south end. Best to camp during spring or fall – summertime it can get very hot. Pitch black at night – you’ll be amazed at how many stars you can see – absolutely a sight to behold. The peace the absolute quiet was incredible.

Lots of pictures taken by previous reviewer Evergreengirl sums it up - we added a couple extra of our own.

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Dick & Dorene would stay here again

Nightly Rate: $10.00

Days Stayed: 1

Site Number: -

5 Access
5 Location
5 Cleanliness
5 Site Quality
5 Noise

Reviewed by
jtart

  • 55 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
October 06, 2018
Rated

This is in the south end of Joshua Tree National Park. This is only 1 of 2 campgrounds inside the park that has water. There is also a dump station. The water spigots are located throughout the campground but we filled up at the dump station.

There are 2 loops, the motorhome sites are perimeter parallel road sites. Our driver side slides were next to the road, we are 32’ long and 12’ wide. It looked like the cars coming through were inches from our slides. We were told they had just repaved everything but nothing was level. When we arrived on Monday it was empty. We had concerns about our size with the road. The campground host told us we could drive around and see if there was another site more suitable since they weren’t full. We drove around for over an hour and couldn’t find any back-in site long enough or anywhere near level.

We finally decided on a deeper perimeter spot. There are nice flush toilet bathrooms but no showers. We enjoyed the sunsets each night. Then on Wednesday we were informed by the camp host we had to move back to our original site. They were booked up for the weekend.
He wasn’t kidding! It turned into the Daytona 500! We had people walking through our campsite, cars buzzing past our slides and kids playing right by our bedroom slide at 6am.

We had no hookups so we had to leave all of our windows open. The once peaceful campground was overrun. We found out that several families were together for a wedding and since our site was between all of them, they just used it as their travel path.

We left as early as we could on our last day, the campground host had put our site tag under our tow windshield wipers so we wouldn’t forget it was check-out day, as if!
There is BLM land right outside the south entrance with cell service. We headed there.

The rangers are however super nice and very helpful. Check-in is at the Cottonwood Visitor Center. We also very much enjoyed the park, it’s incredible.

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Nightly Rate: $20.00

Days Stayed: 5

Site Number: A3

3 Access
4 Location
3 Cleanliness
2 Site Quality
2 Noise

Cell Coverage Rating

Verizon

  • 30 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
December 24, 2018
Rated

We didn’t see the allure of this park. We are in a 41 ft DP Mh site reserved said it was over 50 ft long, NOT TRUE, yes we fit but barely. So unlevel it was terrible & we carry blocks of wood to help us level there is no way on earth to get that spot level. The spots are so close together. This was not our cup of tea. We only spent one night here as we were on our way to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl Parade, we WILL NOT be stopping here on our way back to quartzite I can guarantee. And all the really hiking is at the other end of the park, from recent rains there are washed out roads & campsites. Our opinion stay outside the park on FREE BLM land. There is NO cell phone service in the park at all.

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Nightly Rate: $10.00

Days Stayed: 1

Site Number: A27

3 Access
2 Location
3 Cleanliness
1 Site Quality
1 Noise

Cell Coverage Rating

Verizon

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Reviewed by
Campendium

February 19, 2019
Rated

Prior to pulling into JTNP we camped outside at the BLM south area and I should have stayed put. Sites here are extremely tight including the one way lane throughout the campground loops. Sites are NOT level. Several water spigots non operational. Some sites are right off the side of the road. And if you have rigs with slide outs-gosh good luck squeezing through.

Best for small trailers under 20ft.
No cell service or OTA channels

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Nightly Rate: $20.00

Days Stayed: 2

Site Number: B6

4 Access
4 Location
5 Cleanliness
2 Site Quality
5 Noise

Cell Coverage Rating

Verizon

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Reviewed by
Campendium

November 15, 2019
Rated

I would of rather camped outside the park for free with more space.
Just wasn’t a good fit for us.

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Nightly Rate: $20.00

Days Stayed: 1

Site Number: B 14

1 Access
3 Location
5 Cleanliness
1 Site Quality
2 Noise

Cell Coverage Rating

Verizon

AT&T

T-Mobile

Reviewed by
machado1751

  • 9 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
November 26, 2019
Rated

This is a reservation only campground, and we lucked out to come across a family who was leaving early and vacating their spot, so we took over their reservation. Flush toilets are very clean - we saw someone clean them daily. There is a large table, fire pit with grill and large pad for parking at our site. I noticed some sites did not have a pad, and cars parked on the street. There were many water spigots through the campground. Our site was right next to the bathroom, which was not an issue for us, but might bother others. No lights (including bathrooms) or electricity in the campground, which made stargazing wonderful! This campground is located in the most southern part of the park - 90% of the activities and exhibits were in the northern part. Keep in mind it’s about a 40 minute drive to these locations, which worked out nice, because that meant there were fewer people in our area.

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machado1751 would stay here again

Nightly Rate: $20.00

Days Stayed: 2

Site Number: A8

5 Access
5 Location
5 Cleanliness
5 Site Quality
4 Noise

Cell Coverage Rating

Verizon

AT&T

Photo of Campendium

Reviewed by
Campendium

March 05, 2020
Rated

Beautiful mountain view and desert plants. Cactus were just beginning to bud. Camping spots are a little tight for larger RV's. There was a bit of city glow from Palm Springs so stargazing wasn't as good as we'd hoped. Had great hikes on the many paths. Drove through Joshua Tree National forest, through Cholla and Ocotilla gardens. Saw Skull rock and the fabulous gigantic rock formations. Had a bit of a time getting our 36 ft RV situated so we could extend our slides, and had to park our toad at the bathhouse (only a short distance away), but overall a great two day stay.

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This reviewer would stay here again

Nightly Rate: $20.00

Days Stayed: 2

Site Number: B09

4 Access
5 Location
5 Cleanliness
3 Site Quality
5 Noise

Cell Coverage Rating

AT&T

  • 57 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
February 01, 2021
Rated

What a joke!
I couldn’t possibly fit into a spot they called a 45 Ft spot. Nothing more than a slightly wider spot than the road itself.

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Nightly Rate: $25.00

Days Stayed: 2

Site Number: A21

1 Access
3 Location
3 Cleanliness
- Site Quality
- Noise

Cell Coverage Rating

T-Mobile

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Reviewed by
Campendium

February 21, 2021
Rated

We had been boondocking for a while, so the amenities of this campground fit our specific needs. Having the dump station and potable water was a huge plus. There are several dumpsters and an area for recycling. Flush toilets and sinks in the bathroom. The sites and facilities are well maintained and clean. Great sunsets. We really enjoyed the view and privacy of site B29. The parking was cramped for our 34 ft Class A and fairly unlevel; our site was basically parallel parking directly off the main path, but we made it work. Class B or C most likely not have any issues. Just like everywhere inside Joshua Tree, there is no cell service. In addition to the site fee, you’ll pay a $30 park entry fee at the visitors center; we recommend getting the yearly interagency pass for $80. With that, you’ll get free entry into all national and some state parks. Even though the parking was cramped, we’d stay here again.

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This reviewer would stay here again

Nightly Rate: $25.00

Days Stayed: 2

Site Number: B29

4 Access
5 Location
5 Cleanliness
4 Site Quality
5 Noise

Cell Coverage Rating

Verizon

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Cottonwood Campground

Cottonwood Oasis Road
California
92277 USA
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Hours

Open 24 hours today
  • Sun - Sat: 12:00 am - 11:59 pm

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  • Unavailable
    Parking
  • Check
    Pets Allowed
  • Check
    Restrooms
  • Unavailable
    Wifi
  • Check
    Wheelchair Accessible
  • Unknown
    Credit Cards Accepted
Check In
12:00 PM
Max Stay
14
Check Out
12:00 PM
Max Length
35ft
Affiliation
National park
Sites Count
62
Last Nightly Rate
25.0
Lowest Nightly Rate
10.0
Group Tent Sites Count
3
Longest Vehicle Length Reported
41.0
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    Sites
  • Unavailable
    Laundry
  • Unavailable
    Propane
  • Unavailable
    Showers
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    Big Rigs
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    Boondock
  • Unavailable
    Firewood
  • Unavailable
    RV Sites
  • Unavailable
    Fifty Amp
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    Tent Sites
  • Unavailable
    Cabin Sites
  • Unavailable
    Full Hookup
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    Paved Sites
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    Dump Station
  • Unavailable
    Mobile Homes
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    Public Water
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    Pull Through
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    Reservations
  • Unavailable
    Sewer Hookup
  • Unavailable
    Water Hookup
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    Potable Water
  • Unavailable
    Age Restricted
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    Rec Facilities
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    Dispersed Sites
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    Open Seasonally
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    Permit Required
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    Equestrian Sites
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    Trailer Permitted
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