Cottonwood Camp is located on the North Kaibab Trail halfway between the North Rim and the Colorado River. Since the North Rim only gets about 10% of the visitation of the South Rim, Cottonwood also gets fewer visitors. It is also much more rustic than it’s South Rim neighbors, Bright Angel Campground and Indian Garden. Because of this, I have found that the majority of the people who make it to Cottonwood tend to be better prepared and more of the ‘backpacker-type’ as well. Download NPS Corridor Trails Hiking Map (PDF – Free Adobe Reader required) There are 11 small group site accommodating 1 – 6 people and 1 large site for a group of 7 – 11 people. All sites are located north or upstream of the ranger station. Below are some photos of the ranger station and a couple campsites. The bulletin board and water faucet with treated water is located near the composting toilets, also shown below. Some things to be aware of at Cottonwood: Treated water is only available during the non-freezing season. So be sure to check with the Backcountry Office before you come down if your timing is in early spring or late fall. Bright Angel Creek flows year ’round, so you can always get water from the creek as long as you treat it. Carry toilet paper with you! Cottonwood is often out. Due to lack of funding, Cottonwood is usually not manned full time. Rangers check it from Roaring Springs or Phantom Ranger Station. This means that if something happens here, you have to be prepared for emergencies yourself. Carry a good first aid kit and make sure that you take all the precautions to prevent illness and injury. There is an emergency phone located located outside the ranger station.
it’s not close to much, but there is some running water you can cool off in and refill water. just make sure you filter it. when we were there they didn’t have running water to just fill up from. very hot on the way to this camp site as there is not much cover on the trail.
This campground wasn't too crowded, but even if it had been full I think it would have been ok since the camp sites are further apart than the other main corridor campgrounds. There are a few trees for shade. Running water is only available seasonally, but Bright Angel Creek is nearby if you do need to filter. There are composting toilets. This is a great little campground for such a busy trail.
Campground was nice and well maintained, there are actually some space between campsites too so people aren’t right on top of each other which is nice.
It is extremely hot at the bottom of the canyon in July.
Site had picnic tables and running water, as well as little posts to hand your packs on to keep the pesky squirrels out.
Lots of wildlife, we saw deer, lizards and lots of squirrels.
Shade under some trees… We took long naps here during the day. I recommend filling a stainless steel waterbottle with cold water to sleep with at night if you are having heat issues!
This a continuation of our South rim to North rim hike of the Grand Canyon. Day 2 was a beautiful hike from Bright Angel Campground to Cottonwood Campground. It followed a river along on the canyon floor with mostly shade and level ground. We covered about 7.4 miles and had an elevation change of about 1600 feet It was by far, my favorite day of the hike and most peaceful. We crossed so many bridges that I lost count. Beautiful flowers and high canyon walls were all around. It was very quiet out in the middle and we were very much alone. Once we entered Cottonwood Campground, we noticed there weren't many hikers here. Our calves were tired and we were ready to set up camp and relax. We chose site #4 next to the creek mostly because it was very secluded and we might need some alone time in the tent later… LOL These sites also had a picnic table, metal storage box for food and toiletries and a pole for hanging backpacks. There was a bathroom here as well as water source to fill our bottles and bags. We shuffled back and forth along the path through camp trying not to feel the burn of 2 days of walking. We talked to another, more experienced couple who had obviously done this many times over. We were always meeting such nice people on our hike. Our site was next to the creek and we quickly found our way there and took a nap on a large flat rock listening to the water falling over the rocks nearby. My plan had been to wash my hair and body in these creeks and once again that wasn't going to work. The water was freezing! After dinner, the sky started to change and we quickly moved in to the tent for a night of rain. It was 6 pm and already dark. We slept for 12 hours! The next morning we began our last and final day of the hike up and out to North Kaibab Trailhead. It was 6.8 miles and 4161 feet elevation change. This was the hardest day and I wanted to quit right about Supai Tunnel when we were out of water. This is usually a water source but it had been turned off for the season. We met some "trail angels" that gave us some of their water. That allowed us to continue on without panic. It seemed like the top would never come. Jason kept motivating me and took almost the entire contents of my pack. Once he spotted the trailhead sign and pointed it out, I broke down crying…We had made it! What a wonderful challenging adventure with my husband! So glad to have accomplished it and looking forward to many more.
As a Ranger for TheDyrt,I get to test products from time to time. This trip, I tested the infinity scarf by Buff. It was a lifesaver on the trails! At times, it kept the sun off my head and other times it kept the wind off my head. It also served as a cover-up for my dirty hiker-hair since I couldn't wash it for 3 days. What I loved about this infinity scarf was that I could put it on my neck and twist it up and over my head to cover both head and neck. It was lightweight and breathable as well as a fun pink/coral color.
At the second-most visited national park, getting away from the hustle and bustle takes a little more work. But the rewards of sleeping at Cottonwood Campground, deep inside the Grand Canyon, are worth the work.
When we visited in early September, we aimed to complete a rim-to-rim-to-rim hike along the Corridor Trail. I had never hiked inside the canyon before, and this trail was a great, well-maintained and well-traveled introduction. People complete this hike in a wide time range, but for our intended four-day hike, Cottonwood provided the perfect first night accommodations.
Our rim-to-rim-to-rim itinerary looked like this:
- Day 1: South Rim → Cottonwood Campground via the South Kaibab Trail (around 14 miles, but mostly downhill)
- Day 2: Cottonwood Campground → North Rim Campground (around 8 miles, all uphill)
- Day 3: North Rim Campground → Bright Angel Campground (around 14 miles, but mostly downhill)
- Day 4: Bright Angel Campground → South Rim, via the Bright Angel Trail (around 9 miles, all uphill)
It was a great, fast-paced itinerary for our group of 3 above-average hikers. Of course, there are a few barriers to hiking inside the canyon. We were able to snag last-minute permits the day before we left on our hike by arriving at the Backcountry Office about 30 minutes before it opened. Cottonwood is much less popular than Bright Angel campground, so your odds are better here.
The campground itself was comfy, with picnic tables, pit toilets, and potable water. It was very quiet, as I’m sure most hikers were more than ready to get a good night’s sleep before continuing their hike in the canyon. Don’t forget to shake out your clothes and shoes for small scorpions, who are not aggressive but defensive if you step on them.
Only about 1% of visitors to the Grand Canyon ever sleep inside the canyon, and it’s a magical experience.
For more about our rim-to-rim-to-rim hike, and our other two days at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, read more on our blog: Switchback Kids (Grand Canyon)
Much less crowded than the more popular Bright Angel Campground near Phantom Ranch. Loved the fact that there was running water and some outhouses even though it was still spring. Able to find a site that was further away from other people so it was super quiet. Be aware of the crows though, they will tear up any packs left on the ground.
Such a beautiful place we got to see a lot of wildlife such as a mountain lion skunks and a badger great to take the little ones and they got to see these animals for the first time. Such an awesome experience
Lesser used campground in the Grand Canyon. Many day hikes from campground. Water available in summer (steam nearby for other months). Nice area.