Standard (tent/RV)
RV Sites
Tent Sites
Fires Allowed
Pets Unknown
Drinking Water
About Cottonwood Campground

For people visiting the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Cottonwood Campground is a great place to stay. Located five miles from the entrance to the South Unit of the park, the campground is open year-round.


Hikers can access the estimated 70 miles of trails within a short distance of the campground; please stop at a Visitor Center for more details.


Toilets, drinking water and picnic tables are provided at this facility. The site can accommodate tents, trailers and RVs. Sites can accommodate up to six people and two vehicles (group site can accomodate 7-20 people). There are no hookups or a dump station. A water fill station is available for campers. All wheeled vehicles and trailers must remain on roadways or pads.

Natural Features

The Little Missouri River is the central, unifying feature of this wild and broken land where, as a young man, Theodore Roosevelt ranched and hunted in the 1880s. The park is part of both the Northern Great Plains and the West, blending a rich natural beauty with diverse human history. The rugged topography, with its flora and fauna, also provides an opportunity to discover the badlands environment as Roosevelt once did. It is a place to experience a land and way of life that helped shape Theodore Roosevelt's attitudes and philosophy regarding conservation. Cottonwood trees surrounding the campsite turn golden in the fall. 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.

Nearby Attractions

The town of Medora has shopping, restaurants, amenities and the Medora Musical is located approximately five miles to the south. The Little Missouri National Grasslands is the largest National Grassland in the nation at 1.03 million acres. It is located in western North Dakota and is managed by the Medora Ranger District in Dickinson, ND and the McKenzie Ranger District in Watford City, ND. The National Grassland provides additional recreation opportunities in the area.

ADA Access: N

$14.00 - $30.00
National Park Service
Drive In
Walk In
ADA Accessible
Alcohol Allowed
Drinking Water
Fires Allowed
Firewood Available
Phone Service
Picnic Table
Sanitary Dump
Trash Available
Cottonwood Campground is located in North Dakota
46.95 N
-103.5322 W
Get Directions
The South Unit entrance is in Medora, ND. Medora is accessible via Interstate 94 Exits 24 and 27 in North Dakota. Please note exit 27 is a westbound exit only. Medora is 133 miles west of Bismarck, ND and 27 miles east of the Montana state line.
38 Reviews of Cottonwood Campground

great place for going on rides and over night visits. see lots of people hiking the trails and bringing their dogs.

Secluded little campsite

We didn't make a reservation and were able to get a site. We were there by 8am and it seemed like we were the first ones looking for a site. The host was great and gave us great recommendations. We ended up picking a back in campsite. Our site had a picnic table and an elevated grill. There was a water station across the street but the water was yellow and tasted gross. The bathroom was a bit of a further walk but not too bad.

The temperatures were nice. It wasn't too cold in the morning. Be careful with wildlife, there was a bison that walked by a neighboring campsite but was pretty harmless. He was just grazing.

Great place to view the stars.

Nice campground

Nice, well cared for campground. A lot of trees separating campsites. Very friendly camp host, nice clean restrooms and showers.

Teddy Roosevelt Would Be Proud

We stayed here over one night while driving from Wisconsin out to Glacier National Park. This campsite is on the southern end of the park close to I-94 exit.

I just love this place! The feel of the park is unlike anything I've experienced in that it is expansive, rough, beautiful, unforgiving, and remarkably unforgettable.

Keep these things in mind:

  1. This campground has amenities that are not kept up very well. Toilets are on the dirty side with outside critters coming inside.
  2. There is a sense of roughing it even without being out there all alone. This isn't a "pretty park," but rather a natural park.
  3. You will see Bison and you will see prairie dogs. All other wild beasts are hit or miss. The prairie dog fields are beyond belief in their quantity. I mean there are a TON of PDs.

The families that were there were nice and talkative if you engaged them. Truly a pleasant experience.

Do yourself a favor and drive/hike the park before it opens to the public. Unabated driving for the views is worth it and only compliments your morning Joe.

beauty and simplicity

great spot- lots of room and easy access to wade in the river. minimal but can’t beat it! will be back for sure

Close to bison crossing

Along the Little Missouri River, this is a nice place to connect with nature. Set in the park, restroom is a bit of a walk, sites are tucked away from main park traffic-which was minimal when we visited in August. We saw: elk, deer in velvet, bison, prairie dogs,horses, spectacular stars. It’s very close to Medora and all the little wholesome town has to offer.

Peaceful camping in Theodore Roosevelt NP

This campground in Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Medora ND has 76 sites. Half of the sites, the even-numbered ones, are not reservable. Sites 55-66 are walk in tent sites; parking spots and grills for these sites are numbered so you have a specific site.

We arrived before 10:30 am on a Sunday and sites were being claimed quickly. There were 7 of us choosing sites at that time. The hosts had a whiteboard that listed available sites; we took a photo of the list and chose quickly as we drove around because sites that were listed as available were already being claimed. We ended up on a reservable site that was open for the next several nights. The host couple was really on the ball and their attention helped keep the site selection process orderly.  After you put your tag up, they fold it over later in the day and mark your departure date. This is a practice that is used in many campgrounds.

Cottonwood has been full every day since Memorial Day so you can't show up in the evening or possibly even mid-afternoon and expect to find an open site.

This campground has no hookups but has flush toilets, sinks, potable water spigots, a sink for washing dishes/disposing of grey water, a place for filling water tanks, trash disposal and firewood for sale. There are charcoal grates for cooking that can also be use for campfires, but there are no fire rings; your campfire will be a few feet off the ground in something that I think of as a grill!

Showers? No, but there area couple campgrounds in Medora that have showers for $5.

If you stay here, you're obviously here to see Theodore Roosevelt NP. Both the campground and park are worth a visit. The scenery is incredible and gave us a new view of North Dakota. There is a hike near Pleasant Valley Ranch where you can use a few trails to make a 5+ mile loop that will show you everything the park has to offer - Little Missouri River (and you have to cross it at the beginning and end), prairie dog towns, bison herds and beautiful scenery. I highly recommend this as a way to see the park from a better vantage point than the highway.

One complaint - the position of our site (#19) had some people think it was acceptable to cut through our site on their way to the bathroom. Do you walk through someone's home to shorten your walk? Didn't think so but 3 people did within 30 minutes.

Bison abound

Cottonwood Campground forms a loop near the Little Missouri River. It's a short convenient drive from the visitor's center, and near the beginning of the larger loops that bring you to all parts of the south unit of the park. Bison wander in and around the campground, which offers 76 shady sites . Wild horses can also be found within the park, along the circular drives that take you around the colorful buttes. Sunrises and sunsets are quite beautiful.

Great NPS programming and comfortable family camp sites

The campground was arranged very nicely. Though there are many sites, most are tucked away for some amount of privacy and quiet time. The bison roam the campground often. Being on the river is fun for recreation and wildlife viewing.

Nice campsite.

Next to the little Missouri River. Most campsites have shade and tucked in. Ours was a light exposed- but not bad. No campfire rings. They have raised grills that can be used as to have a small fire.