We read a lot about the Cottonwood Spring in Joshua Tree National Park. Most people seemed to enjoy this short walk for some reason. Though it was nice and short, we didn’t think it really deserved to be called a hike. We also didn’t think that this area of the park was worth the drive if you are coming from the north end of the park.
Cottonwood Spring in Joshua Tree National Park is really just a stop for some very tall trees. The parking area is about a mile down the road past the Visitor Center. There are just a few parking spots and a very short trail to an oasis. Massive palm trees grow in an area just a tenth of a mile from the trailhead. Because of the spring, the area is a bit more lush that most of the rest of the park. However, you can’t see the spring or the water without venturing off trail into the trees. The park service has made quite an effort to keep you from doing just that, so please stay on the trail. Basically, you walk down to the trees, admire how beautiful they are and walk back.
One of the reasons we didn’t think this hike was worth it is that the road down to the Cottonwood Spring area is quite long. It’s about 30 miles from the main area of the park down to the small Visitor Center. Since the speed limit varies between 35-45 mph, the drive can take up to an hour each way. There isn’t much to see or do in this part of the park as the Joshua trees seem to congregate in the northern end of the park. Still, if you have plenty of time, or if you come in from the south, you can check out Cottonwood Spring in Joshua Tree. For other family-friendly hike recommendations, visit our Joshua Tree Kid Hikes list.