Cottonwood Pass Trailhead Campground

Inyo National Forest

Cottonwood Lakes

Cottonwood Pass Trailhead Campground, Inyo National Forest, CA

Cottonwood Pass Trailhead Campground

Southern Eastern Sierra
Attractions and Activities

South of Mammoth Lakes are a number of wonderful camping areas along the Eastern Sierra. Among them are Convict Lake, Rock Creek, Sabrina Lake, South Lake, and Big Pine. Those visiting Cottonwood Pass Trailhead Campground may enjoy stopping by some of these destinations before or after their hikes.

  • Find great fishing at Convict Lake, Rock Creek Lake, and Lake Crowley.
  • Enjoy wonderful hiking trails leading into the Sierra Nevada.
  • Spend days among the beautiful Mammoth Lakes.
  • Take a day hike up the trail into Little Lakes Valley at Rock Creek.
  • Enjoy a day at Rock Creek Lake's beach area, swimming and fishing.
  • Fish for trout in popular Bishop Creek or nearby Lake Sabrina and South Lake.
  • Hike up Big Pine Creek past waterfalls to actor Lon Chaney's wilderness cabin.
  • Go on a trail ride with Rock Creek Pack Station or near Lake Sabrina and North Lake see Bishop Pack Outfitters.
  • Mountain bike along challenging trails in the Rock Creek area.

Key Cottonwood Pass Trailhead Campground Regulations

  1. Quiet Hours run from 10:00 PM to 7:00 AM.
  2. Dogs must be on leash and attended at all times. No more than 2 pets are allowed per campsite. Dogs are not permitted on National Park trails.
  3. To avoid problems with bears campers are required to store food and scented items in bear-proof lockers.
  4. Fires are only allowed in provided fire rings. No firewood is available for collecting around the campground.

Nearby Campgrounds

Cottonwood-Horseshoe Meadow Campgrounds

Whitney Portal Area Campgrounds

Inyo County Parks Campgrounds

Onion Valley Campgrounds

Death Valley

Southern Inyo National Forest

Sequoia National Forest Campgrounds

Cottonwood Pass Trailhead Campground

Cottonwood Pass Trailhead Campground is located at the end of Horseshoe Meadow Road in the Inyo National Forest. The campground is 24 miles southwest of the town of Lone Pine. At nearly 10,000 feet in elevation, Cottonwood Pass Campground makes a good place to spend a night before setting off into the John Muir Wilderness and Sequoia National Park.

Many northbound hikers leaving Cottonwood Pass Campground cross New Army Pass or Cottonwood Pass to connect with the Pacific Crest Trail or to climb Mt. Whitney from the western side. Some hikers continue west into the magnificent Kern River Canyon. Others choose the 6-mile hike to Cottonwood Lakes.

Pacific Crest Trail hikers sometimes drop down from Mulkey Pass to the 3 campgrounds in Horseshoe Meadow. Cottonwood Pass Campground is the closest to the PCT. (Use the PCT button to find information about the Pacific Crest Trail at Cottonwood Pass Campground.)

Cottonwood Pass Trailhead Campground has 18 walk-in campsites with tent pads. Many of the sites have nice views of the surrounding mountains and meadows. Visitors are limited to a one night stay at the campground. Picnic tables and fire grates are available. Those who want a campfire should bring their own firewood since none is available at the campground. Boxes of firewood are sold at a roadside stand about 7 miles up Horseshoe Meadow Road. Cottonwood Lakes Trailhead Campground, an equestrian camp, and a pack station are nearby.

Cottonwood Pass Trailhead Campground Basics
Cottonwood Pass Trailhead Campground Location: Horseshoe Meadows Road off Whitney Portal Road, 24 miles southwest of Lone Pine on Highway 395
Elevation: 9,980 feet
Mileage from major cities: 233 miles north of Los Angeles
From Bakersfield - 192 miles
Number of Campsites: 18
Open - Closed: Late May through October (depending on snow)
Max. People per Site: 6 (including children)
Vehicles per Site: 2 vehicles, 2nd vehicle $7
Maximum Length of Stay: 1 night
Pets: On leash, always attended
Operated by Inyo National Forest
Information: Eastern Sierra Interpretive Center
(2 miles south of Lone Pine)
(760) 876-6200 or 876-62222

No Reservations: first come, first served
Maximum RV/Trailer Length: 16 feet
Wheelchair Accessible Sites: None designated
Fees: $6 per night
Check-in, check-out: any time, 1:00 PM

Cottonwood Pass Trailhead Campground Amenities
Campsites: Picnic table, fire ring, bear-proof food storage locker; no hook-ups
Campground: Vault toilets, tap water
Showers: No
Dump station: No
Attractions near Cottonwood Pass Trailhead Campground: Set off hiking on trails over Cottonwood Pass and New Army Pass, connecting to the Pacific Crest Trail and other destinations in the John Muir Wilderness and Sequoia National Park. Tour the old Cottonwood Sawmill site.

General Camping Information

Not all campsites can accommodate trailers or RVs of all lengths. Check carefully on the reservation site when you make your reservation to be sure your vehicle will fit your campsite. Purchase firewood locally to avoid spreading pests.

Accessible Sites

Designated Accessible sites are usually reserved for people with disabilities who have a vehicle displaying an accessible parking placard or license plate.

Cottonwood Lakes, John Muir Wilderness, CA

Cottonwood Lakes in the John Muir Wilderness

Pacific Crest Trail Information

Trail Miles Northbound from Mulkey Pass

  • Cottonwood Pass - 5.7 miles
  • Chicken Spring Lake - 6.3 miles
  • Rock Creek - 16 miles
  • John Muir Trail Junction - 22.5 miles
  • Canada Border - 1,905.5 miles

Trail Miles Southbound from Mulkey Pass

Nearest Town

Lone Pine - 24 miles northeast of PCT on Highway 395
  Post Office, grocery, lodging, restaurants, laundry, outfitter, public transportation (Eastern Sierra Transit)

Always confirm mileages and directions with a reliable PCT source such as the Pacific Crest Trail Association's The Pacific Crest Trail: Exploring America's Wilderness Trail.


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