Site Details

descriptions and directions

Cottonwood Marsh photo by Peter Burke

Cottonwood Canyon - Baca County
Ownership: None Listed
Description: This remote and beautiful canyon is one of the most unique in the state. It is home to plants, butterflies, and even birds that regularly occur nowhere else in Colorado. It is hard to come here and not see a Lewis's Woodpecker. Mississippi Kites abound in season, and Rufous-crowned Sparrows breed at many locations in the canyon (but mostly up by the cabin in Las Animas County). This is the best place in the state to get Ladder-backed Woodpecker. Western Screech-Owls have nested for many years around the campground (which is private but publicly accessible), and Painted Buntings have been seen in some recent years around the cabin and the campground. Keep an eye out for rarities - many species of warbler have been seen here, including Louisiana Waterthrush. A visit here will seldom leave a birder disappointed!

County listers take note: this is one of those annoying sites that sits right on a line. In general, you can get away with considering the county line to be synonymous with the road, at least within 100 yards or so of the campground. Check the "Roads of Colorado" atlas for a little more detail.

Habitat: Rimrock/Mesa, Stream, Lowland Riparian, Grassland/Prairie, Pinyon-Juniper Forest, Scrub Oak Forest
Directions: From Springfield, go south on US 287/385 to CR M (18 miles), and go west on CR M. Follow CR M for 27 miles to the campground at the beginning of Cottonwood Canyon, on the left. CR M follows Cottonwood Canyon for 5 miles, but the best birding is generally along the first mile, before the public road enters posted private property. From La Junta, head south 56 miles on CO 109 to the junction with US 160, then go east on US 160 for 12 miles to CR 223. Take a right (south) on CR 223 and go a little over 3 miles to a " T" with CR 34. Take a right and then the next left, and go south for 2 miles. Take another right and then almost immediately left onto CR 219.1. Follow CR 219.1 south for 3 miles to a fork with CR 24 and take a left. Follow CR 24 for a little under 2.5 miles to a " T" with Baca CR M. The campground is just south of this intersection along CR M.
Other Wildlife:
Other Attractions:

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Latest Cottonwood Canyon Sightings from eBird


CBRC Records from Cottonwood Canyon

SpeciesAccession No.Date(s)
Vermilion Flycatcher2001-1494/13/2001
Philadelphia Vireo51-86-508/31/1986
Phainopepla2011-90 6/16/2011
Worm-eating Warbler52-96-805/4/1996
Louisiana WaterthrushN-52-556/1/1975 - 6/2/1975
Golden-winged Warbler52-74-505/12/1974
Blue-winged Warbler52-96-715/4/1996
Prairie Warbler1997-928/22/1997
Painted Bunting56-94-845/28/1994
Painted Bunting56-95-956/24/1995
Painted Bunting1998-1575/23/1998
Painted Bunting2000-1596/1/1999
Painted Bunting2003-36 5/21/2003 - 6/16/2003
Painted Bunting2006-109 7/18/2006