Birding Hotspots: Cottonwood Marshes

What's There:

Seeps here on the "shores" of dry Owens Lake support reedy marshes and wet alkaline meadow. This is a favorite spot to look for migrating shorebirds and other sorts of migrants and vagrants. Least Bitterns nest in the reeds. A walk across the meadow east of the road is usually productive. Do not, however, venture out on the mud flats in which a person can easily become mired. Leave them to the Curlews, Ibis, Sandpipers, etc. Other areas to visit around Owens Lake include Keeler Wetlands and Dirty Socks Hot Springs.

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Cottonwood Marshes


The area is reached by a fair dirt road off of US 395 about 10 mi. south of Lone Pine. The road is basically level, but rutted in places and may be muddy in wet weather. High clearance vehicle recommended. To reach the road from the north, travel a little over 10 mi. south of Lone Pine on the divided highway and make a U-turn at Cottonwood Road. Go back on the north lanes 0.4 mi. and exit on the dirt road. Coming from the south, when you see the Cottonwood Road sign, slow down and look for the dirt road.

On the dirt road, go east, then north, then east again under a RR bridge; turn right and go south to the marshes, a distance of about 2.6 mi. from US 395. (DeLorme So. CA map, p. 39, A6.)

map to Cottonwood Marshes

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