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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > Pike and San Isabel National Forests > Salida Ranger District

Quick Facts

Cottonwood Lake Campground

Capacity: 280 People
Elevation: 9,600 Feet (2992.5 Meters)
Length of Stay: 14 Days
Number of Sites: 28
Reservation Status: Not Accepted




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General Description

Hand-propelled boats only may access the waters of this 37-acre alpine lake
Copyright: Amy Pyle - Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
Hand-propelled boats only may access the waters of this 37-acre alpine lake
The Cottonwood Lake Campground is about one mile west of Cottonwood Lake and is wooded with small aspen trees. The entrance station is located at the first access road tot he campground. The site receives heavy use during the summer on weekends and holidays.

This campground has 28 sites most of which can accommodate RVs between 35-40 feet. Campsite parking pads are not level. A number of campsites are ideal for tents. An amphitheater is located behind the entrance station. Slide shows and other interpretive programs are held on most weekends.

Fishing is accessible in nearby Cottonwood Lake and along South Cottonwood Creek. Beaver ponds are located at the Poplar Gulch Trailhead, four miles west of the campground. The Poplar Gulch Trail is six miles long and open to motorized vehicles less than 40 feet in width. Dispersed camping is available one mile west of the campground. No services are provided for dispersed campers. They must pack their trash out of the area.

Directions from Buena Vista: Travel west for 7 miles on Hwy 306 (paved), then turn left (south) on to County Road 344 and drive 4 miles to the campground.

Seasonal Information:
Normal Services Available: Late May through Mid-September (NOTE: The gate to the campground may remain open through 10/31 with no services provided. Late season campers should bring drinking water and pack out their trash.) .



Fee Information
Type Price Remarks
single-unit campsite Call for Current Fee Services include drinking wate



Current Conditions & Trip Reports

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Filed By: Claire
Difficulty:
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: Just heading there - June 2013 - and would like to see dates on other posts. One mentions 2004, but others are undated, so information cannot be trusted..??

Difficulty:
Number of People Encountered: 50+ ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: Cottonwood Campground is open again. The fee is now $13. Lots of ATVs and Motorcycles on the road. Campground has been completely renovated.

Filed By: Maghan ( , CO)
Difficulty:
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Not Recommended
Report: An update that I feel should be added is the COttonwood camp ground is closed for the 2004 season due to renovations to the campsites. Sheck this out at the division of wildlife web site.

Difficulty:
Number of People Encountered: 50+ ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: Road is washboard for last two miles to camp, so take it easy. Lake is pristine - lots of fishing going on. Stayed from July 2 through 4, so saw the camp fill up. Quiet after 10 PM though. Seemed like lots of locals there for the weekend. Arrive early if you need a level spot as there are only a few. Nice side trip to Cottonwood pass is 45 minutes from camp. Snow on the ground at the pass July 4th. Good base for rafting trips on the Arkansas.
Conditions: Bear precautions necessary, as there were a few wandering through at 2-4 AM. Not much shade - small aspens abundant. Lots of hummingbirds. Dusty conditions. No mosquitous in camp, but plenty at the lake.
Water Availability: Water available in camp, although 2 of 3 spigots stopped working furing our stay.

Difficulty: Easy
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: 7 miles W of Buena Vista, well East of Cottonwood Pass



Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Family Camping Cottonwood Lake Campground
Yes
ICON RV Camping Cottonwood Lake Campground
Yes
ICON Tent Camping Cottonwood Lake Campground
Yes
ICON Trailer Camping Cottonwood Lake Campground
Yes
ICON Camping Cottonwood Lake Campground
Yes
ICON Cross-country Skiing South Cottonwood Creek Road
No
ICON Cold Water Fishing Cottonwood Lake, South Cottonwood Creek, beaver ponds at Poplar Gulch Trailhead
No
ICON Four-Wheel Driving South Cottonwood Road, Grassy Gulch Road
Yes
ICON Hiking & Walking Poplar Gulch Trail, Colorado Trail, Mt. Yale Trail, Browns Pass Trail, Hartenstein Trail
No
ICON Horseback Riding Poplar Gulch Trail, Colorado Trail, Mt. Yale Trail, Browns Pass Trail, Hartenstein Trail, South Cottonwood Road
Yes
ICON Hunting Collegiate Peaks Wilderness
No
ICON Small Game Hunting Collegiate Peaks Wilderness
No
ICON Animal Identification Poplar Gulch Trail, Colorado Trail, Mt. Yale Trail, Browns Pass Trail, Hartenstein Trail
No
ICON Bird Identification Colorado Trail, Poplar Gulch Trail, Mt. Yale Trail, Browns Pass Trail, Hartenstein Trail
Yes
ICON Mushroom Identification Poplar Gulch Trail, Colorado Trail, Mt. Yale Trail, Browns Pass Trail, Hartenstein Trail
Yes
ICON Pine Cone Gathering Poplar Gulch Trail, Colorado Trail, Mt. Yale Trail, Browns Pass Trail, Hartenstein Trail
Yes
ICON Plant Identification Poplar Gulch Trail, Colorado Trail, Mt. Yale Trail, Browns Pass Trail, Hartenstein Trail
Yes
ICON Wildflower Identification Poplar Gulch Trail, Colorado Trail, Mt. Yale Trail, Browns Pass Trail, Hartenstein Trail
Yes
ICON Lakes & Reservoirs Cottonwood Lake, South Cottonwood Creek
Yes
ICON Mountain Biking Poplar Gulch Trail, Colorado Trail, South Cottonwood Creek Road, Colorado Trail (south of Cottonwood Pass Road)
Yes
ICON ATV Riding South Cottonwood Road, Grassy Gulch Road
Yes
ICON Motorcycle Riding South Cottonwood Creek Road, Grassy Gulch Road
Yes
ICON Scenic Driving Cottonwood Pass Road
No
ICON Backpacking Colorado Trail
No
ICON Attending Talks & Programs Cottonwood Lake Campground
Yes
ICON Viewing Scenery Poplar Gulch Trail, Colorado Trail, Mt. Yale Trail, Browns Pass Trail, Hartenstein Trail
No
ICON Viewing Wildlife Poplar Gulch Trail, Colorado Trail, Mt. Yale Trail, Browns Pass Trail, Hartenstein Trail
No



Related Activities
Cottonwood Lake - Cottonwood Lake lies south of Cottonwood Pass. It provides an opportunity for lake and stream fishing in a beautiful mountain setting. Hiking, biking and four-wheel driving are accessible from this site.

Cottonwood Lake Picnic Ground - The Cottonwood Lake Picnic Ground has 19 sites that include a table and fireplace. Recreation opportunities accessible from this site include fishing, boating, four-wheel driving, hiking and horseback riding.

Poplar Gulch Trail - The Poplar Gulch Trail leads north miles from St. Elmo to South Cottonwood Creek. It traverses 2 scenic valleys and over a high saddle for views of the Sawatch Mountain Range.



More Information

Visitor Information:

Salida Ranger District, U.S. Forest Service, 325 Rainbow Blvd. , Salida, CO, 81201, Phone: 719-539-3591, Fax: 719-539-3593

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