Cottonwood Campground is a quiet desert oasis in the southwestern corner of Big Bend National Park. Conveniently located between the Castolon Historic District, the scenic Santa Elena Canyon and the tail end of the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, this small, 31-site campground is one of...
Status: Open year round.   Season Dates

Book a Campsite at COTTONWOOD (TX), TX

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Know Before You Go
  • There are no authorized border crossing points within Big Bend National Park; the closest legal ports of entry are at Del Rio and Presidio, TX
  • Individual sites are on a first-come, first-served basis
  • The group site is tent-only; no RVs or trailers allowed.
  • Generators are not allowed
  • There are no electricity, water or sewer hookups
  • Javelinas, bobcats and bears frequent the area; all food must be kept in approved containers or in a hard-sided vehicle; trash must be disposed of in the animal-proof dumpsters provided; coolers or food boxes should not be placed on the ground at any time
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Electric Hookup - no Full Hookup - no
Pets Allowed - no Near Water - no
Enter Date
Footnotes: (applicable only where specifically marked above)
** Arrival dates earlier than the online-reservation-window may also be available at the campground.
*** Some sites may be available only from the campground on a first-come-first-served basis.
Cottonwood Campground Cottonwood Campground Cottonwood Campground Cottonwood Campground Wildlife in Cottonwood Campground


Cottonwood Campground is a quiet desert oasis in the southwestern corner of Big Bend National Park. Conveniently located between the Castolon Historic District, the scenic Santa Elena Canyon and the tail end of the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, this small, 31-site campground is one of the least-known and typically least-occupied campgrounds in the park. The group site is the only reservable campsite in the facility and is tent-only; individual campsites are first-come, first-served year-round.

Cottonwood gets its name from the cottonwood trees that surround and provide shade for the facility nearby the Rio Grande River. A general store and visitor center -- a converted former military outpost -- are also nearby.

The campground is at an elevation of 1,900 ft. It is relatively cool in the peak seasons of fall and winter due to cold air sinking into the lower elevations.

Natural Features:

The national park is named for a curve in the Rio Grande River called the "big bend." For 1,250 miles, the river is an International Boundary between the United States and Mexico.

Due to its proximity to water, many species of birds can be found in the Cottonwood area, including nesting migratory birds. Santa Elena Canyon is a beautiful river canyon that can be seen from facility.


Particularly popular with bird watchers, Cottonwood Campground is a haven for those wishing to study the abundant bird life in Big Bend while also escaping the more crowded areas in the park. Because of its diverse ecosystems and plant life, the park provides habitats for many rare and unique birds, including the Mexican mallard, Lucifer hummingbird, Mexican jay, black-capped and gray vireos, and Varied Bunting. Visitors are often the eyes and ears of birding in the park and are encouraged to report sightings at the visitor center.

Hiking trails are also found both in and around the campground.


The group campsite is a walk-in, tent-only site; no RVs or trailers are allowed. The campground has pit toilets, potable water, picnic tables and grills. There are no hookups or dump stations, and the use of generators is not allowed. Vehicle parking is restricted to an adjacent parking area.

Booking Window
Thu Oct 23 2014 - Wed Oct 21 2015

Reservations must be made 2 Days(s) ahead of arrival and can be made up to 12 Month(s) in advance.

Season Dates

Season Schedule

Park Season Start End
Peak Wed Jan 01 2014 Wed Dec 31 2014
Peak Thu Jan 01 2015 Thu Dec 31 2015
Services and Amenities
Within Facility
  • Accessible Flush Toilets
  • Amphitheater
  • Biking
  • Birding
  • Canoeing
  • Drinking Water
  • Educational Programs
  • Fishing
  • Food Storage Locker
  • Hiking
  • Historic Sites
  • Mountain Biking
  • Picnic Tables
  • Rafting
  • Recycling
  • River Access
  • Self Pay Station
  • Trash Collection
  • Vault Toilets
  • Visitor Center
Within 10 Miles
  • General Store
  • Pay Phone
  • Scenic Overlooks
  • Trailheads
Greater Than 10 Miles
  • Accessible Trails
  • Bank
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Golf
  • Grocery Store
  • Horse Corrals
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hospital
  • Lodging
  • Restaurant
  • River Trips
Fees and Cancellation Policies

Fees and Cancellation

Fee Information
Payment in full will be charged to your credit card upon completion of the reservation. A $9.00 non-refundable on line reservation fee may be charged for some facilities.

Payment Methods Accepted On-line:
Visa Mastercard Amex Discover UnionPay JCB

Changes and Cancellations
A $10.00 service fee will apply if you change or cancel your reservation. Late cancellations are subject to additional fees. For full details see NRRS Reservation Policy

Facility Rates*
Park Season Site Type Nightly/Daily Rates
Peak Season
Jan 01 2014 -
Dec 31 2014
Peak Season
Jan 01 2015 -
Dec 31 2015

*Displayed rates do not reflect discounts, attribute fees (electrical hook-ups / water hook-ups), taxes or incremental charges
**Weekly rates may not be available for all sites
Getting There
GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):
29.13694, -103.52222
29°8'13"N, 103°31'20"W

From Interstate 10, take State Highway 385 south to Fort Stockton and onto Marathon. From Marathon, drive 40 miles south on State Highway 385 to the north entrance of Big Bend National Park. Drive straight for 26 miles to Park Headquarters at Panther Junction. Turn right at the intersection and go 13 miles west. Take a left at the Santa Elena Canyon turn-off and drive 23 miles to Cottonwood Campground.
Contact Information

Mailing Address:

PO BOX 129

Phone Number:

Information:  (432)477-1121
Additional Information