We have stayed at Joshua Tree National Park in the northwest corner at Black Rock Campground and thoroughly enjoyed the area. We explored the central area of the park also but never got down to the southern area. So we decided to go to Cottonwood.
And they said it could not be done. Yep,we did it! We put a 40′ rig into a small campground with plenty of space to spare. Welcome to Cottonwood!
Cottonwood Springs Campground is located in the southern part of Joshua Tree National Park with the closest access via I-10. It is a small campground with 62 sites sitting at 3,000 ft elevation and has two loops, loop A and loop B. There are both pull-outs and back-ins. Notice I mentioned pull-outs, herein lies the problem.
The pull-outs, whilst they may be long enough, are very narrow. If you have any slides then this could pose an issue. BUT we love a challenge so off we went. The back-ins were out of the question. Most of the back-ins are suitablle for a small car and tenters or maybe a small rig, under 25′.
We had done some research to try and help determine if we could get into this campground. The recommendation is to unhook your towed vehicle prior to entering the campground. We stopped at the Cottonwood Visitors Center and unhooked there and then drove the towed into the campground to select an appropriate campsite. We then drove around both loops to select a spot. Both loops are very similar in layout with A loop being just below (in elevation) than the B loop.
At this time of year (early December) the campground was all but empty. We had less than 4 vehicles total in both loops during our entire stay. The host site was even empty. The entire campground is dry camping and there is a dump station nearby.
The main problem for big rigs at this campground is the careful placement of large boulders around the periphery of each site. If it wasn’t for the boulders then you could squeeze yourself into almost any site.
We spoke to the park ranger prior to entering the campground and they provided a list of sites for big rigs.
This helped us with thinking we could make it into a site. And we did. We selected site 17B which we felt was one of the widest but more importantly the boulders were placed a bit further away from the pavement.
It was a tight squeeze and required a few back and forths to ensure we were as far over as possible and would not obstruct traffic. BUT this was much easier then dealing with tall trees, branches, and scrapes on the paint and/or solar panels like you encounter in the heavily forested/treed Pacific Northwest. Easy schmeezy!
Campground: Cottonwood Springs Campground
Location: Joshua Tree National Park
Site:17B (Loop B)
Cost: $7.50 (50% off with Interagency Pass)
Services: Dry Camping
Comments: A lovely campground with a few hiking trails right on your doorstep. Behind our site was a firepit and picnic table and tons of privacy and gorgeous views.
A beautiful site, fantastic views, beautiful moonrises and sunsets, peace, quiet, and great hiking trails.
Our only recommendation if you have a big rig, don’t go in peak season. If it is crowded (like Thanksgiving week or Christmas week) then it could be a problem maneuvering around the campground or finding an ideal site.
Here’s a few pics of other sites.