Cottonwood Lake is a beautiful and fun place to photograph and explore in the heart of the Colorado Rockies.

Wherever you are in Colorado, turn your route towards Buena Vista in South West Colorado - you will not be disappointed. 

To start, Buena Vista is a really cool town with great places to eat and visit. So make sure you check out the city before heading up Cottonwood Pass. 

When you are ready to head into the mountains, hop on Buena Vista's Main Street or Hw 306 up Cottonwood Pass. Continue for about 7 miles - the road will follow a river that is great to pull off and capture. Once you hit Hw 343, take a left. The road starts paved, however in about a quarter mile turns to dirt. It is taken well care of so you won't need a 4WD to make it to the lake. Continue on 343 for 3 miles until you run into Cottonwood Lake.

The lake sits at the base of Mt. Princeton, so the views are incredible. There is great fishing there as well, and easy access boat drops for canoes and kayaks. 

This is definitely a great place to explore for the day and makes a great place for photography and relaxing.

Pack List

  • Camera
  • Warm Clothing (weather can change fast in CO)
  • Fishing pole (if you are into that)
  • Kayak or Canoe
  • Swimming suit
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RT Distance 0.1 Miles
Elevation Gain 1 Feet
Activities Chillin, Photography, Swimming
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Features
Bathrooms
Beach
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Handicap Accessible
Lake
Picnic Area
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Nearby Adventures

More Nearby Adventures

Summit Mt. Yale

This amazing adventure starts at 9,900 feet and goes up 4,300 feet over the course of a 9.5 mile round trip. You will want to start at the Denny Creek Trailhead.

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Hike to Ptarmigan Lake near Buena Vista

When you begin the trail, make sure to choose the correct trailhead from the parking lot (located on the south side of the lot to the left, NOT behind the bathroom).

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Hike Mt. Princeton

Starting at 8900 feet of elevation, this 13.25 mile roundtrip hike begins its 5400 foot elevation gain on a dirt road that winds for 3 miles until you break the treeline.

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