Cottonwood Creek flows southeast from the crest of the 14,000-foot high White Mountains into the Great Basin Desert. Congress protected the river in 2009 as part of an omnibus bill signed by President Obama that protected 105 miles of Wild & Scenic Rivers and 750,000 acres of wilderness in California.
A small desert stream, Cottonwood Creek nevertheless possesses outstanding scenic, recreational, fish, wildlife, and ecological values. Vegetation along the stream ranges from ancient bristlecone pine, pinyon, and juniper forest at higher elevations, to lush aspen-ringed meadows, cottonwood and willow, and sagebrush in the lower reaches. Numerous springs feed the creek, which supports the rare Paiute cutthroat trout. The creek’s riparian habitat supports more than 70 species of birds, including yellow warbler, prairie falcon, and Cooper’s hawk. The creek offers wide variety of outdoor recreation, including hiking, equestrian use, angling, and bird watching.