On a map, this piñon, juniper, and sagebrush covered wilderness looks like two small "peninsulas" divided by Cottonwood Canyon. Extending south from the Arizona-Utah border, the land rises to 6,322 feet on Cottonwood Point itself, at the lower end of the western peninsula. Craggy pinnacles and 1,000-foot cliffs of multicolored Navajo sandstone cap this irregular plateau. Elevations within the Wilderness boundaries range from about 5,100 to 6,600 feet. Between the crags lie deep and narrow canyons, the wetter ones filled with willow and cottonwood. Mule deer, bobcat, and mountain lions hide in this area, and coyotes lift their voices to splendid moonlit nights. Cottonwood Point Wilderness is a convoluted, rugged country as "reminiscent of the landscapes of Zion National Park." Without trails, Cottonwood Point receives few human visitors. It's a prime opportunity for quiet canyon backpacking, hiking, and horsepacking. Immediately to the north lies Utah's Canaan Mountain Wilderness.
The higher elevations generally receive much more precipitation and much cooler temperatures than lower elevations. This wilderness receives approximately 14 inches of annual precipitation. Summers at high elevations bring warm daytime temperatures with cool nights. Low elevations often experience very hot summer temperatures. Afternoon thunderstorms are common in the summer. The winter and early spring months bring snow and sometimes cold temperatures to the highest elevations but frequent clear, sunny days. Winter temperatures are more moderate at low elevations - a great time to recreate in these snow free areas - allowing both winter and summer type activities within very short distances.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Cottonwood Point Wilderness.
Cottonwood Point Wilderness is located directly east of Colorado City, AZ on the Utah/Arizona border. The closest services are in Colorado City but the nearest major town is St. George, Utah 45 minutes drive west. Access to this wilderness is limited because of private property that nearly surrounds the wilderness boundaries. Access to the steep slopes and cliffs of the western boundary of this wilderness can be obtained from Colorado City while access from the southwest corner of the wilderness (BLM-administered section) can be obtained off the Cane Beds Road, south of Colorado City. No trailheads or trails exist in this wilderness other than old stock trails.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.