The hike up Cottonwood Wash is a moderate day-hike of three miles. It requires some navigating and lots of scrambling. Large boulders, chokestones, and deep pools create obstacles for individuals in Cottonwood Wash. Swimming may be necessary. Hikers should check conditions at the Visitor Center before attempting this hike.
The following description details Cottonwood Wash from Notom-Bullfrog Road to a 35-foot pour off approximately three miles up canyon. It was written by Park Service personnel. About a mile from the trailhead, a tributary drainage enters from the north and could be mistaken for the main drainage - stay left. A few hundred yards further, the main canyon narrows and enters a quarter-mile long stretch that is choked with large boulders and requires scrambling to negotiate.
After another third of a mile, a tributary canyon enters from the south. This canyon might also be mistaken for the main drainage - stay right. Shortly beyond this point, the canyon abruptly narrows to a thin slot. A deep pool of water often stands at the entrance to this narrows and may require swimming to pass. If the weather is cool and the pool is full, this obstacle may turn you back.
For the next mile, the canyon alternates between tight narrows and somewhat more open stretches. You will encounter a number of chokestone pour-offs that must be climbed and, sometimes, pools of water that require swimming or wading. A 35-foot dry fall blocks the way at the end of this stretch of narrows (about three miles in from the start of the hike) and marks the end of the route.
Directions: From Highway 24, Drive southward on the Notom-Bullfrog Road 9.1 miles to the Cottonwood Wash. Park along the road, but beware of deep sand. Do not park in the wash.
Elevation: 5,120 feet
Ending Elevation: 5,600 feet
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