360° VR Panoramas of East of the Sierra Nevada
Cottonwood Creek in Owens Valley
Near Olancha, California

South of Mount Whitney the east side of the Sierra has few high basins. Cottonwood Creek, which begins above Horseshoe Meadows, is the southernmost significant snowmelt stream. It was developed for hydroelectric power during construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct.


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Cottonwood Creek at road's end

Cottonwood Creek at road's end

The road up Cottonwood Creek ends at the diversion dam for the hydroelectric project.

Cottonwood Creek, south of Lone Pine, California

Date photographed: May 23, 2016

Cottonwood Creek spring flow

Cottonwood Creek spring flow

Cottonwood Creek is a cold mountain stream that runs from Horseshoe Meadows to Owens Lake. Part of it has been diverted into the hydroelectric system, but all of it ends up in the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

Cottonwood Creek, south of Lone Pine, California

Date photographed: May 23, 2016

Penstock above Cottonwood Canyon

Penstock above Cottonwood Canyon

The aqueduct and penstock seen high on the canyon side above Cottonwood Creek direct water to the powerhouse. It is four miles long with a head of 1200 feet.

Cottonwood Creek, south of Lone Pine, California

Date photographed: May 23, 2016

Cottonwood Canyon mouth above Owens Lake

Cottonwood Canyon mouth above Owens Lake

Just above the powerplant the broad alluvial fan of Cottonwood Creek narrows to a V-shaped canyon. Owens Lake, now dry, lies a few miles to the east.

Cottonwood Creek, south of Lone Pine, California

Date photographed: May 23, 2016

Los Angeles Aqueduct and Cottonwood Powerhouse

Los Angeles Aqueduct and Cottonwood Powerhouse

Historic Cottonwood Powerhouse was one of the first things built as part of the Los Angeles Aqueduct project. As a result much of the construction was electrically powered.

Cottonwood Creek, south of Lone Pine, California

Date photographed: May 23, 2016

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