Cottonwood Lake, Alaska, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Alaska - Southcentral -

Cottonwood Lake, located near the town of Wasilla in the Mat-Su Valley of Alaska, is a year-round destination. The Mat-Su Valley region, short for Matanuska-Susitna, contains over 3,000 lakes and covers an area of approximately 24,000 miles surrounded by the Talkeetna and Chugach Mountains.

Cottonwood Lake, a natural freshwater lake, is one of the warmer lakes in the Mat-Su Valley. Swimming and water skiing are exciting summer activities on Cottonwood Lake, but with the cold winter freeze, bundle up to enjoy the winter fun as it becomes a great area for skating. Cottonwood Lake also boasts year-round plane service with its ski and float plane operations.

Canoeing is another very popular activity on the lake. Connected to Finger Lake and Wasilla Lake by short portages, Cottonwood Lake is part of a seven-mile canoe trail. Motorized boating is also abundant but because Cottonwood Lake is primarily a residential lake, the entire lake is a “no wake zone” from 10pm to 8am to ensure that a quiet restful night is guaranteed for residents and visitors alike. Cottonwood Lake has one public access entry with a primitive boat ramp on the western shore at the end of Spruce Street.

Fishing on Cottonwood Lake is a twelve-season adventure. Anglers find that the Coho salmon, Dolly Varden trout, rainbow trout, and sockeye salmon are plentiful whether fishing from the scenic shores of Cottonwood Lake or in a boat out on the clear water. Once the lake has frozen over for the winter, anglers can literally walk to their favorite fishing spot and enjoy ice fishing. There are numerous guides that can assist you with fishing during any season.

The majority of Cottonwood Lake shoreline is privately owned real estate with homes, vacation rentals, and bed and breakfasts. The Cottonwood Lake area is a very affordable place to live with a wide range of homes from moderately priced two or three-bedrooms to homes that are much larger and more expensive.

Just over an hours’ drive from Cottonwood Lake is Denali State Park. Denali which means “the high one” is a perfect name for the park as it boasts great vantage points for superb views of Mt. McKinley, the highest peak in North America. Visitors will enjoy great recreational opportunities from roadside camping to wilderness exploration as well as salmon fishing from the many streams that run through the area. As you are enjoying the fishing or exploring, be wary of the large moose, grizzly bears, and black bears that call the area home.

Cottonwood Lake and the Mat-Su Valley offer year-round adventures. Numerous trails that are used for hiking, biking, and ATVs during warm weather double as trails for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiles during the colder weather. The Mat-Su Valley is one of the few agricultural areas of Alaska known for producing huge vegetables during the long daylight hours of their 100-day growing season.

Cottonwood Lake is a great place to visit while enjoying the untouched beauty of Alaska’s Mat-Su Valley. Summer or winter, it does not matter as Cottonwood Lake is an all-weather destination for fun, nature, and adventure.

Things to do at Cottonwood Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Park

Fish species found at Cottonwood Lake

  • Coho Salmon
  • Dolly Varden Trout
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Sockeye Salmon
  • Trout

Cottonwood Lake Photo Gallery

Cottonwood Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 262 acres

Shoreline Length: 4 miles

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 0 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 329 feet

Average Depth: 11 feet

Maximum Depth: 39 feet

Water Volume: 2,835 acre-feet

Drainage Area: 15 sq. miles

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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