Cottonwood Recreation Area is conveniently located between Lewis and Clark Lake and Lake Yankton. Lewis and Clark Lake is known for great boating, sailing, swimming and other water-based recreation activities. Lake Yankton is popular with families as a popular fishing spot along with the excellent kayaking, canoeing and paddling opportunities. Numerous paved, multi-use trails connect the area with the additional numerous recreation areas located along Lewis and Clark Lake, Lake Yankton and the Missouri River. Lewis and Clark Lake attracts more than 2 million visitors each year to its shores. Recreation opportunities around the lake include camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, boating, sailing, swimming, bird-watching, and photography.
For the biking and hiking enthusiasts, three trails are available in the area. They include a paved trail that runs from Yankton to the Gavins Point area, a multi-use trail in the Gavins Point area and the Calumet Bluff hiking trail located near the visitor center. Wintertime activities include ice fishing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and sledding.
Developed public parks and recreation areas surround the lake above and below Gavins Point Dam. Camping facilities provided by the Corps and the States of South Dakota and Nebraska include marinas, boat ramps, trails, campsites with electricity, modern restrooms, playground equipment and trailer dump stations.