Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness lies within the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area and shares a common boundary with the Cottonwood Forest Wilderness, located on the Dixie National Forest. Here, massive blocks of Jurassic age Navajo Sandstone have been eroded by wind and water, leaving rounded domes and numerous small canyons. The resulting landscape is both austere and intimate, affording outstanding opportunities for solitude and natural quiet, just minutes away from the major population centers of Washington County. Convenient trail access makes this Wilderness a popular choice for hikers and equestrians. There is a total of 20 miles of trail in Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness.
Although it is at the western edge of the Colorado Plateau, the Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness supports plant and animals species that typify the arid Mojave Desert. Since temperatures can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer (temperatures are more moderate in spring and fall), well adapted plants, such as pockets of desert shrubs, cover the sand dunes and rocky outcrops of this wilderness. Mojave Desert species, such as Utah agave, banana yucca, scrub oak, and single-leaf ash, are found in the lowlands (as low as 3,300 feet) and line the dry washes. At higher elevations (as high as 5,000 feet), pinyon pine and Utah juniper dot the rocky slopes of the Wilderness area. Mule deer, mountain lion, bobcat, and kit fox live here, as they do farther east on the Colorado Plateau. Mojave Desert species, including the federally-listed threatened Mojave Desert tortoise and the Gila monster and chuckwalla reptiles are also residents of the Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness. Golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, and the western screech owl circle the craggy canyons of this Wilderness area, searching for prey. On the right day, at the right time, lucky visitors may see bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and Cooper's and sharp-shinned hawks in the area. Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness receives between 16 and 19 inches of precipitation each year.
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 Canyon Wilderness.
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.
Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 - Public law 111-11 (3/30/2009) An act to designate certain land as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System, to authorize certain programs and activities in the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, and for other purposes.