Anglers have vehicular access to the Cottonwood Campground area on both the north and south side of the river, although highway 511 on the south side of the river is about 60 feet above river level and in most places river access on the south side is difficult. Cottonwood Campground is a major Navajo Lake State Park camping facility with support for RV's, improved camp sites, day parking facilities, multiple rest rooms and a pay station for both anglers and campers. The campground and related facilities are located close to river level so anglers have easy foot access to the river in this area from the parking facilities. To get to Cottonwood Campground from Float 'N Fish go west on highway 173 about 1/4 mile past Aztec Bridge to the turn off on the north side of 511 to County Road 4280. Take County Road 4280 north and east over an improved dirt road about 1.7 miles to the turn off for Cottonwood Campground (paved). The campground and day parking areas support large numbers of day fishermen and campers. The San Juan Quality Waters end upstream of Cottonwood Campground above Crusher Hole so much of the Cottonwood area allows anglers to fish with bait and allows harvesting fish per the current NM Fish and Game proclamation.
As the end of the Quality Water is at the top end of this section, the area is fished by both Fly Fishermen and Bait Fishermen. Both Rainbows and wild Browns are present in this area with deep holes and rock structure near Crusher Hole and just above Cottonwood Flats providing great hiding spots for large fish. Cottonwood Flats and Walts Riffle are long, slow wadeable riffles with some structure in Cottonwood Flats. As the water continues to warm this area supports a diverse insect population including Mayflies, caddis, some golden stoneflies, Midges, Scuds and Aquatic Worms.
The upper part of this map shows stream improvement projects completed in Nov - Dec 2005 and Nov - Dec 2006 by New Mexico Game and Fish. These improvements provided boulder clusters to help provide holding water and Cross Vanes and J Hooks to facilitate flows.
A second stream improvement project took place in Nov - Dec 2009 on the Cottonwood Flats area. Structure was added to the river to provide trout holding water and parts of the channel were narrowed to facilitate flows.