Cottonwood Cove and the Colorado River

Believe me, I would love orders to take Cottonwood Cove apart and kick the Legion back across the river. But, the brass at McCarran doesn’t want us to waste resources on something they consider a minor target. So we just get to watch.

Comm Officer Green

The drive from Searchlight to Cottonwood Cove follows a similar elevation change as we get closer to the Colorado River.

You will need your National Park Service Pass for a checkpoint on the way to Cottonwood Cove. Info on these passes can be found here. Or you can pay for a day pass. You will need it anytime you are trying to get to any location close to Lake Mead or the Colorado River.


# 175 – Sniper’s nest
# 176 – Cottonwood Cove
# 179 – Cottonwood overlook
# 169/180 – Smith Mesa / Cliffside prospector camp
# 181 – Blue Paradise Vacation Rentals
# 189 / 441 – Boat to / Dry Wells
# 231 – Colorado River
# 250 – Lakelurk cove
# 276 – Cottonwood Cove HQ
# 277 – Cottonwood Cove mess hall
# 294 – Elephant Hill
# 339 – Cottonwood Cove restroom
# 340 – Cottonwood Cove shack
# 341 – Cottonwood Cove storage
# 404 – Small lakelurk cave

What I like best about the location is how the developers must have used a map for their map .. uh, you know what I mean. The shore line is identical in real life as it is in-game. Overlaying the game map onto a real one is how I found a lot of places, especially the ones that were cut from the game.

Location Details

# 175 / 179 – Sniper’s nest / Cottonwood overlook – I hiked around the vast majority of the cove and could not find the perfect place from which to snipe Legion members. However, I instead have concluded that the honor should go to this awesome house on top of a massive hill, just south of the fee station on the right hand side of the road. It did not have a precariously situated truck from which radioactive waste could potentially spill, but it certainly counts as an overlook.

# 176 / 340 / 341 – Cottonwood Cove / shack / storage – In our world, Cottonwood Cove is a real place, a resort community on the west bank of the Colorado River. There are much less heads on spikes, torches, Legion explorers and crucified people. But the same set up of docks and buildings stretching from the west shore. The road descends into the cove valley similarly as well.

As an aside, does anyone else think it is weird that you are not allowed to let Anders down off the cross until after you start the associated quest? Even though he begs you to? Eesh.

# 250 / 404 – Lakelurk cove / cave – Although there is no lakelurk cove or cave here, there are countless coves along the Colorado River, and many of them have pretty entertaining names. My favorites were Stopsign Cove and Little Stopsign Cove, Nevada Telephone Cove (pictured below), and Seven-Eleven Cove to name a few.

# 277 – Cottonwood Cove mess hall – In addition, there is a floating marina building that looks like the mess hall, and it is located in the same place. When I was reading about the construction of this building, it reminded me a lot of the wasteland in that, “the exterior stucco is made completely of recycled tires and the decking system is 100% recyclable composed of 55% rice hulls and 45% recycled plastic.

# 276 – Cottonwood Cove HQ – To the right of the hotel, there is this little nondescript building that looks like Cottonwood Cover HQ. It even has the antennae on top, just without two stories. It also could suffice as the storage building, next door to the headquarters. The fence in front reads Well House #5.

Dishonorable mention – Many years ago, I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to head up river from here up to the Fort.

In preparation for this day, I took the Nevada Boater Education Course, passed the exam and got all hyped up. But when I went to rent a boat, the guy at the desk told me that my plans would not be possible “on account of the Hoover Dam” … which was so obvious and yet … lost on me somehow. And apparently lost on the Legion as well.

So I rented the boat anyway and got as close to the Hoover Dam as I could. As an FYI, anyone that is born after 1983 like myself has to take the course and exam or you could be fined and gain infamy with the NCR. A lot of websites charge for the course and exam, but you can take it here at Boat US Foundation for free.

I had never operated a boat before, but the course really didn’t teach anything about operating one. At this point all I can remember are all the rules centered around not going to the bathroom in the water. Anyway, you can go up to the Hoover Dam as far as the signs but heed the following rules about when you can drive a boat between Willow Beach and the dam. I took a picture of the sign.

# 169/180 – Smith Mesa / Cliffside prospector camp – In the RV park below, there is a Smith Mesa Road which is noted on the pamphlet I received at the ranger station, but it does not have a sign. Or at least I could not find one. Smith Mesa Road is the only road that has a name in the RV park, even though there are well over two dozen individual roads in the area that zigzag between the campers.

When I hiked to the southeast of the cove in an attempt to find a location, I found three mine related structures, unmarked on my real life map, but one of which looked like it should be crawled into similarly to the Smith Mesa location. Unfortunately, I did not find a friendly dog here either. Probably too hot, only idiots like me were climbing around here in the jarring heat at 2:00 pm.

# 181 – Blue Paradise Vacation Rentals – Suffice it to say that all of the little cabins or trailers in or around the cove look similar to Blue Paradise Vacation Rentals, just less sunken in the water.

# 189 / 441 – Boat to / Dry Wells – Most thankfully, there is no irradiated hellscape south of Cottonwood Cove. There are a variety of locations called “dry” this and that, and similar for “wells” but the name appears to be created solely for the game. A few months back I found an old quarry site that made me think of the place, the sides are steep with no road access built in. I think it looks like a intense crater and it was called Roman Spring on the map. Thankfully it lacked pretty much impossible to kill irradiated Legion explorers.

These “nuclear shadows” do occur in the real world, but would be colored the opposite way, with the dark part in the shape of whatever blocked the blast and the light part bleaching whatever was not blocked.

# 294 – Elephant Hill – This was a cut location from the final game, but is a real world location, a mountain peak on the Colorado River. It is on the Arizona side, opposite the Opal Mountains and Nevada Bay. I drove down to the shore on the Nevada side and it kinda just looks like the rest of the shore along the Colorado, so I didn’t know why it had the name until I looked it up. From above it kinda does look like an elephant. Or a broken arm.

# 231 – Colorado River – I should have mentioned this first, but the sight of the majestic Colorado River is always beautiful and disorienting when you spend all your time in the unforgiving desert. Look at how alive everything is, how green, how full of life. Super weird. There are no roads heading north or south, the only way out is back into the open expanse of desert from whence we came.

I have always wanted to stay at Cottonwood Cove, but the motel has a two day minimum and the houseboats have a three day minimum. For how not too impressive the motel looks, it is super expensive. The inexpensive and awesome choices in Nipton are only 45 mins away (full disclosure, they are my friends and give me free beers), so that is what I always do instead. Plus you can see all the game related sites here in like, an hour, so staying on my best behavior for two days in Legion territory would likely be impossible.

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