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Cottonwood Creek (San Luis Creek tributary) facts for kids

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Cottonwood Creek
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Location of the mouth of Cottonwood Creek at San Luis Reservoir in California
Other name(s) Arroyo Alamo
Country United States
State California
Region Merced County
Physical characteristics
Main source source
Red Hill, eastern slope of the Diablo Range, north of Pacheco Pass, Merced County
2,080 ft (630 m)
37°07′29″N 121°11′24″W / 37.12472°N 121.19000°W / 37.12472; -121.19000
River mouth mouth
Confluence with San Luis Reservoir, Merced County
548 ft (167 m)
37°06′18″N 121°07′57″W / 37.10500°N 121.13250°W / 37.10500; -121.13250

Cottonwood Creek is a southeastward-flowing 4 mi (6.4 km) tributary stream of San Luis Creek, originating in the eastern foothills of the Diablo Range in Merced County, California. The creek's mouth, before the San Luis Dam was built across the course of San Luis Creek, was originally at its confluence with San Luis Creek at approximately 250 ft (76 m). Today, Cottonwood Creek enters San Luis Reservoir, which raises the elevation of the creek's mouth to 548 ft (167 m), where it becomes Cottonwood Bay on the north side of the reservoir. The source of the creek is at Red Hill, a summit on the eastern slope of the Diablo Range.


Cottonwood Creek, originally named by the Spanish Arroyo Alamos, was named for the Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii) trees which are still abundant along the lower creek.

Ecology and Conservation

The Upper and Lower Cottonwood Creek Wildlife Areas are administered by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) , and bracket the historic mouth of Cottonwood Creek, now submerged as Cottonwood Bay on San Luis Reservoir. This area is now home to a herd of tule elk, visible from the Pacheco Pass (Highway 152), which dispersed there from 1978-1981 CDFW translocations of the large ungulates to the Hewlett-Packard San Felipe Ranch on Mt. Hamilton in Santa Clara County.

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