Cottonwood Lake Campground

Area Status: Open

Cottonwood Lake Campground has 25 sites and is situated on a gently sloping hillside surrounded by aspen trees, within walking distance to the lake. It is a popular campground for anglers and sites fill up quickly on weekends. 

No water available, make sure to bring enough water to drink and extinguish your campfire.

If the campground is full, dispersed camping is permitted along road 344 starting 1 mile west of Cottonwood Lake Campground. 


At a Glance

Current Conditions: .
Operational Hours: Check out: 12 p.m. (noon)
Quiet hours: 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Reservations: First-come, first-served. No reservations are accepted.
$20 per site for overnight camping. Two vehicles or one RV per site is included in the camping fee. $10.00 for a third vehicle. $10.00 fee for day use if not camping overnight. Fees are payable by cash, check or money order. Self-servicing fee tube is available. Sites must be occupied the first night of payment. 
Open Season: May 17, 2024 - Oct. 13, 2024
Usage: Medium-Heavy
  • Maximum 8 persons per site.
  • Vehicles must park on the parking pads provided.
  • Dogs must be leashed.
  • No discharge of firearms or fireworks.
Closest Towns: Buena Vista, Colorado
Water: No water available, bring drinking water.
Restroom: Accessible vault toilets.
Passes: America the Beautiful Senior or Access Pass cardholders may receive a 50% discount off the camping fee only. The discount only applies to the fee for the campsite physically occupied by the pass owner, not to any additional campsite(s) occupied by members of the pass owner's party.
Operated By: Concessionaire
Information Center: Salida Ranger District 

General Information


From Buena Vista, Main Street will leave the city limits and will continue west as County Road 306, also known as the Cottonwood Pass road. Stay on this road for about 6 miles then turn left at County Road 344 for about 3 miles.


Parking is permitted on the parking pads provided at each campsite. Do not park on the main campground roadway.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Campground Camping

No. of Sites 25 each with a picnic table and fire ring with grill. No electricity.

RV Camping

Lake and Pond Fishing

Cottonwood Lake is located .25 miles east of the campground. Hand-propelled boats and canoes are permitted on the lake.

River and Stream Fishing

Stream fishing is available on the South Fork of Cottonwood Creek. The creek can be accessed by walking directly south of the campground or by driving west on Forest Road 344 for about .5 miles. Another good spot for stream fishing is at the Green Timber Gulch trailhead located 3 miles west of the Cottonwood Lake campground.

Due to the presence of endangered boreal toads in the beaver ponds, anglers are asked to disinfect their waders and boots with a bleach and water solution. This is to prevent the spread of a chytrid fungus that can kill the tiny toads. Do not remove or injure the toads, their eggs, or tadpoles.

Day Hiking

General Info:

General Notes

Segment 13 of the Colorado Trail can be accessed on Chaffee County 344 approximately 1/2 mile south of the intersection with Chaffee County Rd 306 (Cottonwood Pass Road). There is a small dirt parking area on the east side of the road.

Viewing Scenery

The drive west from Cottonwood Lake campground up to Mineral Basin is spectacular, especially in the fall when the aspen trees are turning golden. Not recommended for vehicles without high-clearance.


Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


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  Elevation : 
9,400 Feet