Location visible to members
Cottonwood Group Campground is one of the best places in Joshua Tree National Park for stargazing and wildflower viewing. The group campground is part of the main Cottonwood Campground and has three sites that are by reservation only. It is one of three group campgrounds in the park and the only campground that lies in the southern section.
Travelers 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 Group Campground is at an elevation of 3,000 ft. and has little shade from vegetation; however, there are picnic shelters that provide shade at each site.
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.
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 1-2 hour drive.
There are three group sites, each with a picnic shelter. There are no electrical hookups, and RVs and habitable trailers are prohibited. Drinking water and flush toilets are provided.
The General Patton Memorial Museum, a U.S. military history museum, is just over 12 miles away in the town of Chiriaco.