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
A cool campsite in an awesome park!

My brother and I decided to take a trip to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I had never been there before and didn't know what to expect when I entered the Cottonwood campground in the South Unit.

When I pulled in there were several campsites for tents on the left and pull-through campsites for campers on the right. I opted to for one of the tent sites right in the middle of the camp near the water. The campsite I was at had trees in between it and the adjacent campsites. It had a flat space with mowed grass, a picnic table, and an outdoor grill.

As far as bathrooms are concerned, there was a pit toilet where you enter for the pull-through sites and a flush toilet in the middle of the tent sites. I always prefer camping somewhere with a flush toilet and running water. You might be more adventurous than I am, but this definitely made me happy.

There were a lot of bugs in my campsite, which was probably because I was close to the water. It may have had fewer bugs if I chose a campsite further away from the river. I saw a snake while cooking dinner one night, and I also saw a buffalo hanging out next to the toilets when I woke up one morning (I wasn't groggy for long). So there is a good chance you see some wildlife you can enjoy in the campsite.

The location of the campground is near the entrance of the South Unit, so it's a good place to stay if you plan to explore the park. I woke up and did a loop around the entire South Unit and then ended back at the campground.

As far as the national park is concerned, I highly recommend checking out the Wind Canyon Trail, Buck Hill, Scoria Point Overlook, the Petrified Forest and the Painted Canyon. All of these locations are really different. There are also several prairie dog towns that are pretty cool.

Quiet in April

Stayed here and early April and had the campground to ourselves besides one other tent and bison! Beautiful area!

Theodore Roosevelt NP - Cottonwood

What can I say, I went to Theodore Roosevelt National Park just to hangout with my brother and do some camping. I had very low expectations considering it is located in North Dakota. Let's just say that of the dozen National Parks and Monuments that I have visited and camped in, Theodore Roosevelt is my second favorite.

I saw more wildlife than I have in any other park. There were very few people so it felt like we had the park to ourselves. The scenery was fantastic with so many different things to see. There is a South and North unit and they are both amazing, although the North unit is my favorite.

The Cottonwood campground is in the South Unit. It was great. The toilet near are campsite was a pit toilet, but it was clean. I must admit, I prefer a flushing toilet, especially when I am paying money to camp. Having said that the rest of the campground was quiet with some great scenery. Aside from not having flushing toilets, the reason it gets 4 stars instead of 5 is the campground needed more shade trees. It did get hot during the day.

Wildlife walks through the campsite regularly. I woke up one morning with a buffalo walking 10 yards from my tent. I was sitting down and eating lunch at the picnic table and a beautiful snake with lots of colors just slithered through. If you want an experience with nature and have the opportunity to see bluffs, trees, badlands and a petrified forest, you need to stay at Cottonwood.

Nice NP Campground Convenient to I-94

I visited this campground for 1 night while driving across North Dakota. It's super easy to access from I-94, but you feel like you're a million miles away from the interstate. Arriving at the Teddy Roosevelt NP main entrance late in the day, the booth was closed and the "Campground Full" sign was up. I decided to check for myself and I'm glad I did. They sometimes put the campground full site up when the ranger leaves for the night- always check for yourself.

The campsites were basic- picnic table, fire ring, and close proximity to some basic bathrooms. My site was grassy and easy for a tent. The campground didn't allow hammocks or anything attached to trees. The rangers were very friendly and actively patroling the campground. There were NP events at the campground each night.

The cost for a site was $16 (and 20$ to enter the park if you don't have a pass). You cannot get change from the ranger and you cannot use a credit card to register. The closest place to get change, firewood, gas, etc. is Medora which is about 7 miles away. The convenience store there has anything you might want.

There are lots of great hikes accessible in the park, but the park is not crowded like other National Parks, so be sure to get a trail map and directions for hiking as all trails are not well marked.

Close proximity to TRNP

Only 6 miles from South Park entrance of Thoedore Roosevelt National Park. Drinking water and flushing toilets but no showers. Reasonable nightly rates. Remember that you are also responsible for the entry fee into the park if you plan to enter the park. Nearest town is Medora. For basic camping I'd recommend. For those that are looking for more amenities you may want to research further.

so much Buffalo

All the sites were the same but I got to stay at site 15. The site is huge and is made for group camping not solo. There's a picnic table and fire ring. The park cost about 20 dollars to get into. There are restrooms that are pretty well maintained but had no showers. I went on a hot day so they prohibited fires for that day to prevent wildfires. There are a lot of animals and you may notice small animal droppings on the campground. The droppings are dried out so it doesn't have a strong odor. They don't let you collect firewood to prevent damaging the wildlife so I recommend bringing your own supply of wood. There are a lot of trails in this park. I took the Wind Canyon trail which offered the view of the Missouri river. There is also a lot of prairie dogs and buffalo. You are exposed to the sun and there are no trees for shade. This is also the same for the campsite. It is really hot. The visitor center is really friendly and they suggest places in the park you should visit.

Especially beautiful at sunset

Interesting area, lots of geology and wildlife but somehow different than what I expected. You can take a great scenic drive around the park and there are a lot of moderate trails if you want to explore more (petrifed forest!!). Lovely creeks throughout the park. Yes bison sometimes visit the campground…I didn't experience this but it was a little freaky thinking that they could be out there! The campground meets my expectations for a National Park: clean, good layout, well maintained, facilities as described. Wasn't too crowded in May but I recommend reservations for summer. Most sites are pretty open so less privacy but great views. Great place to visit on a road trip or for a getaway.

First to Review
Beautiful Campground and Beautiful Park

The BF and I stayed here last July (2015) and we absolutely loved it! The bathrooms were clean, there is potable water and the camp host was great! We had reserved in advance as we were driving in from Minnesota and wanted to know we had a spot. We got a great spot near the river and had amazing sunset views. I had read that a buffalo encounter is possible, which we saw near the road but thankfully not near our tent. The campground is nestled right in the middle of the park making it quite peaceful. It's not too far from Medora so it's reasonable that you could eat dinner there if cooking isn't you're thing. The park itself has a great scenic road and plenty of wildlife. We saw solitary male buffalo, a herd of buffalo from afar, two entertaining prairie dog villages, a lone coyote and lots of birds. The geology is also amazing - much like the badlands of S Dakota but with much more green life, wildflowers and wildlife. We only had one night and wish we could have stayed longer! Overall it was a great campground and a true gem of a national park!