Cottonwood Creek Falls is a little-known gem tucked away in the southwestern corner of the Laguna Mountains. Although it is not as visually striking as Cedar Creek Falls or Three Sisters Waterfall, it is still well-worth the trip for the swimming holes and canyon views. The best time to visit is during late winter and early spring, especially after heavy rains. Due to the arid climate, the falls usually dry up during the summer and remain dry through the fall.
The trailhead is located by the eastern turnout on Sunrise Highway between mile-markers 15.3 and 15.4. Follow the overgrown path under the power lines down into the valley, and then turn left at the intersection. Cottonwood Creek Falls are located up the canyon and require some scrambling to reach. The swimming holes, which can be up to 4 feet deep, are a refreshing place to cool off before heading back.