• Overview
  • Q&A
  • Reviews (2)
  • Amenities

Overview of Cottonwood Campground

Number of Sites 25

Pad Type dirt

Elevation 4,297 ft / 1,309 m

Max Stay 14

Tent Camping Yes

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Reviews of Cottonwood Campground 2 people have reviewed this location.

Ratings Summary

Overall Rating
Site Quality
Thumb mojave cx 5
San Diego, CA Mazda CX-5 Touring AWD
1 review
“Well-maintained secluded campground”

Reviewed 1/29/2020

Nightly rate: $6
Days stayed: 2
Site Number: 3
Overall Rating

Spent the weekend here just before Christmas 2019, definitely plan to come back. The access road in was much better condition than described in the 2016 review - a large wind farm was constructed along McCain Valley Road in 2018, and the roads were widened and smoothed for construction access, and have been kept up since for maintenance traffic. There is one area, described in the 2016 review, that has warning signs about washouts, but it was in excellent condition when we went through. AWD SUV had no issues with the access road, and I don't think a trailer would have been a problem.

The campground itself is split into two loops. The west side tucks into the base of the hills and has a lot of shady oaks. The east side is more flat and open but still has some scattered oaks. Each site has at least one fire ring and picnic table, some had multiple. BLM had recently cut down dead oaks and left all the wood behind, which we took advantage of. We had the east loop to ourselves, which is not unusual out here (the campgrounds closer to I-8 at Lark Canyon OHV area looked about half full). There were some super cool folks on the west loop, though, who hosted us at their huge campfire while they opened X-Mas gifts. They even brought string lights and decorated a scrub oak in the holiday spirit :)

The campground was very clean, vault toilets looked to have been cleaned recently. It was very quiet and still all afternoon and evening. There are a couple of wind turbines fairly close to the campground, but none of these were spinning and all you could hear was an occasional high-flying passenger jet and a distant pack of coyotes. That changed about 3:00am when the turbines powered on - the winds had picked up to 20 knots or so and stayed constant the rest of the time we were out there. The turbines weren't too loud, about like one of those airliners going constantly.

Between the turbines, night time lows in the 30s, and the fact that it was the weekend before Christmas, the whole north end of McCain Valley felt even farther from civilization. If you're out here for more than the seclusion, I recommend checking out Sacatone Overlook on the way in. There's a sign for the turnoff about 10 miles south of Cottonwood Campground, about a half mile before the pavement starts. The overlook road was less maintained than McCain Valley Road, but no trouble with decent clearance (2WD passenger vehicle might have a problem). The overlook has a picnic table and views all the way across the desert to Arizona (110+ miles) and north as far as Mt. San Jacinto (80+ miles). Well worth the detour if you're into that kind of thing.

No cell phone access anywhere near the campground. I'm on Google Fi, which uses Sprint and T-Mobile networks.

Site Quality

GoorooDougie would stay here again

This review is the opinion of a Campendium member and not of Campendium.com

Thumb cover photo
38' DRV & Ford F450 4X4 Dually 38 RSSB3 with 4 slides and 1k Solar 2011 Toyota Rav4
8 reviews
“Unusual shade forest in the desert”

Reviewed 9/23/2016

Nightly rate: $6
Days stayed: 2
Site Number: 24
Overall Rating

The campground is only about 12 miles from the freeway but the drive took over an hour. There were parts of the road that were somewhat smooth but the majority was washboarded. The last little leg before the campground was washed out rather badly and took some careful maneuvering to navigate. I would not head back unless it was with a 4x4 and a designated driver. I am a brave driver but I would not brave the route again with a 28' trailer and a 4x2. Getting into the site took every bit of my driving ability as there is little room to backup or turn around. Be sure to stock up before heading this way as there will be no quick trips to town.

The campground shows little signs of road and tree maintenance and several of the spots are closed. However, once you are able to get to the location and into a spot you will find yourself surrounded by beautiful shade trees, cement picnic tables, and decent pit toilets. There was a wonderful breeze that sang through the trees during our entire stay.

The east campground was busier with tight roads and smaller sites; which allowed tent camping. The west campground had more open spots with larger sites and did not allow tent camping. The roads here were also very narrow and not well maintained but we managed to scrape our way into a great site under a cluster of shade trees (which had grown into one massive tree). If you are heading this way with anything larger than a truck camper be sure to pack a saw.

The area was very clean. There was little litter and fresh trash bags. We saw no broken glass.

We chose what we considered the best spot. There was a nice large open area with a cement picnic table that was nearly completely shaded. We went on Labor Day weekend but were still able to find a secluded spot with just one neighbor that was not visible. The area underneath the tree was smooth dirt surrounded by large bushes. A short walk to the neighboring site had a sunny picnic table with beautiful views. A short hike past the gated area led to an abandoned well with a marvelous view of the entire area.

Other than occasionally hearing our neighbors the only noise was the wind whistling (and sometimes howling) through the trees.

Zero AT&T.

Site Quality

Jack&Elizabeth would stay here again

This review is the opinion of a Campendium member and not of Campendium.com

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  • dry camping
  • OHV
  • recreation trail
Site Amenities
  • fire ring
  • picnic table
  • horse corral
  • restrooms: vault
  • trash
  • water available
  • pets


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