Cottonwood Lake, Alaska, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Cottonwood Lake.

If you’re considering Cottonwood Lake vacation rentals, we’ve made it super easy to explore accommodations and nearby hotels using the interactive map below. Simply click on a listing to compare similar properties, best rates and availability for your dates. Or keep scrolling to read our Cottonwood Lake guide!

Cottonwood Lake visitor and community guide

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.

Custom Cottonwood Lake house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

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

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Cottonwood Lake

The Cottonwood Lake map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

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Cottonwood Lake photo gallery

New photos coming soon!

Cottonwood Lake statistics & helpful links


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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