Lots to do in this park with hiking, 4WDing, and sight seeing. There are two main hikes accessible directly from Cottonwood Springs Campground. We did both on them on separate days and enjoyed them both.
Lost Palms Oasis Hike
This hike is about a 7 mile round trip hike which starts at the actual springs of Cottonwood.
From the trailhead (1/2 mile from the campground) the trail leads up and down for 3.5 miles getting more dramatic and steeper as the trail progresses. By the time you reach the Lost Palms Oasis you are into a rugged mountainous terrain that is gorgeous. There are views of the Salton Sea as you make your way to the oasis. A beautiful hike. We had ideal weather for hiking and only saw a few other people on the trail.
Mastadon Peak Hike
This hike proved to be much shorter but still quite a nice hike. it is about 3 or 4 miles round trip (2.6 mile loop plus 1 mile to/from campground). It leads up to Mastadon Peak, which is the home to a few mines from the 1930s, and then back down again. We had lovely weather, beautiful blue skies, and no one around. We hiked it clockwise.
Around the Park
Even though we have been to the park before we still like to drive around and explore and of course, view some of the beautiful Joshua Trees. Not only are there Joshua Trees at the higher elevations but there are also chollas in the Cholla Garden and Octotillos in an Octotillo Patch. It is amazing how the landscape and vegetation changes in an instant. At one point there are no chollas and suddenly there is a field of them. At one point there are no Joshua Trees and suddenly there is a field of them.
We also enjoy some 4WDing. There are a few 4WD roads in the southern area of the park specifically Black Eagle Mine Road and Ole Dale Rd. Both interesting roads to drive and they get a bit more difficult the further back you drive.