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.
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.
There are 62 sites, each with a fire ring and picnic table. There are no electrical hookups. Drinking water and flush toilets are provided.
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.
The General Patton Memorial Museum, a U.S. military history museum, is just over 12 miles away in the town of Chiriaco.
Charges & Cancellations
Reservation Cancellations & Changes
Cancelling a Reservation: Customers may cancel their reservation prior to arrival both on-line and through the call center. A $10 service fee will be withheld from any refund for a cancellation. Depending on when you cancel in relation to your arrival day, it may be considered a late cancellation.
Changing an Existing Reservation: When changes are made prior to the cut-off window:
If a customer wants to switch dates that are entirely outside of the original reservation dates, there is a $10 change fee.
There is no change fee if a customer extends or shortens a reservation, as long as the change includes dates from the original reservation. If they choose to depart early, they may forfeit the recreation fee for the day of departure.
There is no change fee if the customer wants to switch sites that are the same price with the same reservation dates in the same facility.
If a reservation is made that includes dates beyond the maximum booking window, that reservation cannot be changed until 18 days have passed from the original booking date.
Late Cancellations or Cancellations within the Cut-off Window
Individual Campsites: A customer who cancels a reservation the day before or on the day of arrival will pay a $10.00 service fee AND forfeit the first night’s use fee (not to exceed the total paid for the original reservation). Cancellations for a one-night reservation will forfeit the entire amount paid and will not be subject to an additional service fee.
The park headquarters address is not the physical address of the campground. To get to the campground, take Interstate 10 to the I-10 exit 168 Mecca/Twentynine Palms exit and follow signs to Joshua Tree National Park. The exit is 25 miles east of Indio, California.