Theodore Roosevelt National Park Cottonwood Campground Review

While exploring Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, we camped at Cottonwood Campground inside the park. It’s located just five miles from the National Park’s South Unit park entrance. Our plans were originally to camp three nights. Due inclement weather, we ended up staying a few more days. But it was more than the cold rain that kept us there!

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Aside from the cold rain, we simply fell in love with Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It’s so serene, beautiful and it whispered sweetness to our gypsy souls. Not only does it have so many environmental differences but also, it’s rich in history. We totally commiserated with Theodore Roosevelt’s philosophy of why this place is so special and alluring. Being that it’s open year-round, the Cottonwood Campground offers a great place to enjoy all seasons while enjoying the bison visits

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Campground - Always On Liberty

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Cottonwood Campground

Reservations, Hours and Fees

You can reserve one of the 72 sites at Theodore Roosevelt National Park Cottonwood Campground.

However, only half of the sites can be reserved while the remaining sites are walk-in.

Be aware though, Cottonwood Campground fills to capacity by noon each day, during the camping season (late Spring, Summer and early Fall).

Most sites are suitable for tents and RVs. Although, they do have specific tent camping sites not available for RVs. We recommend you verify site sizes on the website before booking. There are some big rig sites available but they are often booked way in advance.

Be prepared to boondock as none of the campsites at Cottonwood have utilities or hookups. However, there is water-fill station near the trash dumpsters at the campground entrance check-in. And, just an FYI, there are no showers available either so you’ll need to monitor your water usage.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Cottonwood Campground Rates
*Rates may change without notice. This is just the 2019 guide of fees.

Camping, day use, group sites, cabins and lookouts administrative fees (in addition to campsite fees and may change without notice) are as following:

      • $8 if made on-line
      • $9 if made through the call center
      • $3 if made in-person

You can get more information on Theodore Roosevelt National Park Cottonwood Campground Rules and Reservation Policies.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Cottonwood Campground Map - Always On Liberty

Checking into Theodore Roosevelt National Park Cottonwood Campground

Our check-in process was quick and easy. Being that we did not have a reservation, we took our chances by arriving in the morning to score a campsite big enough for our RV.

Almost all sites were occupied by the time we arrived.

So again, we recommend getting their no later than mid morning after checkout. There was only one site left that was 25′. Of course, we took it. Our Winnebago View fit perfectly with barely inches to spare.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Cottonwood Campground RV Campsite Back

Roadways and Parking

The asphalt roadways were in great condition. And the campsites at Theodore Roosevelt National Park Cottonwood Campground are packed dirt. And of course, there’s lots of trees with shady canopies but the Ranger and landscaping staff kept them trimmed as to not touch our RV roof.

Since we were there in the Fall, we got to see the Cottonwood tree’s foliage turn golden; hence why the reason for this campground’s name. Although the campground is moderately forested, most of the campsites are in partial to full sun but visitors can cool off in the cold river when temperatures peak during summer.


Theodore Roosevelt National Park Cottonwood Tent Camping Site

All campsites at Cottonwood are standard non-electric, tent-only non-electric, group standard non-electric and overnight sites. Each site can accommodate RVs, campers and tents and no more than six (6) people at each campsite.

Group Sites can accommodate seven to twenty (7-20) people. Each site has a picnic table and permanent grill. Tent camping sites parking was only steps away from their tents.

Since Cottonwood has no electricity, generators are allowed however, all campers and RVs must abide by quiet hours. So, that means no generators during those times, so plan your energy usage accordingly.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Cottonwood Campground View

Cottonwood Campground Amenities and Recreation

      • Amphitheater
      • Drinking Water
      • Flush Toilets
      • Host
      • BBQ
      • Accessibility
      • Accessible Occupant Message
      • Grills
      • Picnic Shelters
      • Day Use Area
      • Hiking
      • Camping
      • Wildlife Viewing
      • Birding
      • BISON!
  • Toilets are located throughout the campground and picnic shelter areas. However, again, we must reiterate that there are no showers. The water fill station is available for campers near the trash dumpsters and recycling at the entrance.

There are estimated 70 miles of hiking trails within a short distance of Cottonwood Campground. You can pick up more information at the Visitor Center.

So make sure you bring your Theodore Roosevelt National Park waterproof mapGoPro and binoculars.

But before trekking out there, we need to advise all who visit that the wildlife (bison) are very unpredictable so keep your distance!

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Bison Campground Road

Getting to Cottonwood Campground

The South Unit entrance is only 5 miles from the town of Medora, North Dakota. Medora is 133 miles west of Bismarck and 27 miles east of the Montana state line. Medora is accessible via Interstate 94 Exits 24 and 27. Be aware that exit 27 is a westbound exit only.

Cottonwood Campground lies inside Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It is TRNP South Unit’s only campground. 

Coordinates: 46° 57′ 0.0000″ N   103° 31′ 55.9999″ W.

Local Attractions

Medora North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame

The town of Medora is located just outside the Theodore Roosevelt National Park entrance. The tourist town offers several restaurants, gift shops, and the Medora Musical. Also in the town of Medora is the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Also, situated in western North Dakota is the Little Missouri National Grasslands is the largest National Grassland at 1.03 million acres. The National Grassland provides additional recreation opportunities such as hiking, backpacking, birding and photography in the area.

Our Theodore Roosevelt National Park Cottonwood Campground Review

Herd of Bison

Simply said, we can’t wait to go to Theodore Roosevelt National Park Cottonwood Campground again!

It was such a treat to be able to watch the bison walk right past us (social distancing of course!) in our campsite and throughout the campground.

Our evening walks were perfect through the canopies of the Cottowood trees and Honeysuckles.

Check out our other Campground and RV Park Reviews!


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2 Replies to “Theodore Roosevelt National Park Cottonwood Campground Review”

  1. How come you didn’t talk about all the wild horses there.? I follow the wild horse site at the park all the time. Really want to make it to this park. It sounds beautiful.

    1. Hi Linda, thank you for taking the time to read this article. Unfortunately, we didn’t see but a few wild horses way far in the distance. But yes, there supposedly are a few herds. The park was amazing and beautiful. We are looking forward to going back. We hope you can get there too.

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