This is a link to the Grand Staircase Escalante Rod Conditions Report which is sporadically updated. https://www.nps.gov/glca/learn/news/roa ... ions.htm
Just note that they routinely overestimate the difficulty of road conditions.
I've driven it end to end numerous times. Cottonwood is well maintained and passable by 2WD with moderate clearance unless there has been significant recent rain. Currently it is passable. It's a very pleasant drive and a great short cut.
All you have is your fire...
And the place you need to reach