Cottonwood Campground: Theodore Roosevelt Nat’l Park, ND

My RV family at Cottonwood Campground
My RV family at Cottonwood Campground, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND: PeeWee my motorcycle hiding under his cover, rear left; Charlene, my RV, and Sunny, my solar panel.

Campground Name: Cottonwood Campground

Location: Theodore Roosevelt National Park, South Unit, North Dakota
Kind: National Park
Fees: $10 per night, $5 per night during the off-season. Senior Pass or Access Pass holders receive 50% discount. Maximum occupancy: 1 family or 6 people
Reservations: Only the group site, otherwise first-come-first-served
NPS campground web page
Phone: 701-623-4466
GPS: N 46.94842, W 103.52808
Google Maps

An Airstream trailer parked in Cottonwood Campground, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND
An Airstream trailer parked in Cottonwood Campground, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND

Access: Apart from the road resurfacing work at this time (Sept. 2014) the road to the campground is paved, as is the road in the campground. Much of the 5 miles of the old road to the campground can be very slow going for motorhome as there is a lateral crack ever 20-30 feet which makes for a very rough ride. I presume the road replacement will eventually include this section of the road. That portion of the road which has had the asphalt removed and is dirt was better than the paved section! Campsites themselves are dirt and gravel.

Cottonwood Campground
Many if not most sites in the pull-through loop can accommodate big rigs such as the Phaeton, as well as their towed vehicles

Number of sites: 76, including pull-through, back-in, and walk-in sites; Group Sites: 1.

Size of sites: In the pull-through loop many if not most sites were capable of accommodating large Class A motorhomes and their towed vehicles. At least a couple of them could have accommodated two full size Class As and their towed vehicles. Some of the “pull-thru” sites were really nothing but turnouts and suitable for smaller Class C. Sites in the back-in loop were much smaller.

Levelness: very good
Shade: Very good in many if not most sites
Tent pads: not in the pull-through loop. In the back-in loop there were areas cleared for tents.
Fire grills: Yes, of the high-standing BBQ type
Pets: On leash

Hookups: None
Cellular:
Signals varied. Verizon, sometimes one, sometimes two bars; sometimes 3G sometimes LTE on my iPad Air. Download speeds were slow from about .3 to 1.5 Mbps. Upload from .01 to .36 Mbps–very slow. Results with my Wilson Mobile4G cell booster were better but inconsistent. Two tests run back to back resulted in download speeds of 10 Mbps and 3.5 Mbps with upload speeds remaining very slow. On my iPhone 5s without the booster I had two bars and 4G with a download speed of 3.8 Mbps and upload of .011. With the booster on I had 5 bars and 4G with a download speed similar to the unboosted signal and and upload speed about 5 times faster. It seems the booster effected mostly the phone signal and data upload without doing much for the data download

Scenery along the Lewis Creek hike
Scenery along the Lewis Creek hike

TV:
Over-the-air: I didn’t check but a neighbor said he received 3 NBC channels.
Cable: No
WiFi: No

Restrooms: Flush toilets, cold water sinks, paper towels, no soap
Showers: No
Trash: Yes
Recycling: Yes
Water: Yes, spigots around the campground and a potable water fill for RVs at the campground entrance

NEAREST FACILITIES:
Gas: I think there is a pump at Medora Convenience Store, 200 Pacific Ave, but if not then it’s Beach or Bellfield, 22 west and 17 miles east from the park entrance respectively
Dump: SaniDumps reports Medora Campground in Medora. This is by the park entrance, about 5 miles from the campground
Propane: Beach or Bellfield, 22 miles west and 17 miles east from the park entrance respectively
Groceries: Don’t count on finding what you want in Medora. People that live there shop in Dickinson, I’m told. That’s about 47 miles from the campground.
Other Campgrounds: Medora Campground and Red Trail Campground in Medora.

Scenery along the Lewis Creek hike in Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Scenery along the Lewis Creek hike in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

I like this campground. It’s quiet and woodsy.  There was a lot of cricket noise when I was there in mid-September, but road noise?, no, not really noticeable except perhaps from the walk-in sites at the far end of the back-in loop.  Some of those sites also offered unobstructed views of the muddy Little Missouri river that runs past the campground. Sites are very close to level and spaced fairly well apart. It felt quite private in the pull-through loop as far as campgrounds go. Views in both directions from my site were pleasing: on the campground side I saw bushes and trees and on the other a meadow and hills.

Bison on the Lewis Creek Trail
Here a bison alongside the Lewis Creek Trail caused me to circumnavigate

The campground entrance is off of the park’s 36 mile scenic loop road which is a lovely drive. When I made that drive on my little motorcycle PeeWee my ride was interrupted by a heard of bison which were inconsiderately blocking the road. I saw wild horses along the road the next evening when returning to my campsite from Medora.

The day before writing this review I hiked the Lewis Creek trail through “the heart of the badlands”. I think the badlands are misnamed and should be called “beautiful-lands”. Here too I was detoured by a bison, this time on the trail. I heard a coyote barking, and saw a pair of raptors as I walked amidst the beautiful scenery.

Scenery along the Lewis Creek trail, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND
Scenery along the Lewis Creek trail, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND

Theodore Roosevelt National Park has three discontiguous sections, or units: the north, south and Elkhorn Ranch which belonged to Teddy Roosevelt. He is quoted as saying “I never would have been President if it had not been for my experiences in North Dakota.” He was known as a conservationist President. We need more of those.

From the National Park web site at http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/presidents/t_roosevelt_park.html:
“Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, came to the Badlands of what is now North Dakota for the first time in 1883.  Excited about the prospects for an open-range cattle industry, he invested in a ranch along the Little Missouri River near Medora before returning to New York.  The following year he returned, seeking solace after the deaths of his mother and his young wife on the same terrible day in February. He later recalled that “the romance of my life” began in this rugged country…”

Theodore Roosevelt National Park scenery
Some of the scenery you can expect to encounter along the scenic drive of the south unit in Theodore Roosevelt National Park
PeeWee in TNRP
Look everyone! It’s PeeWee! He’s in the Badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota. Hi PeeWee!

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6 thoughts on “Cottonwood Campground: Theodore Roosevelt Nat’l Park, ND”

    1. Small world, isn’t it?

      I have next to no Internet where I am now but I look forward to checking out your blog when I’m back in civilization 🙂

      Thanks for your kind words, BTW.

  1. Enjoyed reading your comments and would appreciate your opinion. We’d like to camp at Cottonwood Campground in our 5th wheel. The NPS website warns of 13′ clearance with tree limbs. However, we have seen many pictures of RV’s using this campground. Are the trees an issue, or something that we would be able to maneuver around without hitting our RV? Thank you

    1. Hi Diane 🙂

      It’s been quite some time since I’ve been there. I had to go back and look at my Campground Report to check my photos and comments. I see a big Class A in one of the pics. Quoting from my report “Size of sites: In the pull-through loop many if not most sites were capable of accommodating large Class A motorhomes and their towed vehicles. At least a couple of them could have accommodated two full size Class As and their towed vehicles. Some of the “pull-thru” sites were really nothing but turnouts and suitable for smaller Class C. Sites in the back-in loop were much smaller.” If Class As can navigate the campground I expect you can too. Why not call the park office and see what they have to say? I’m pretty sure you’ll be fine. I’d also ask them about the current road condition. It was not so hot when I was there and there were construction delays, but they may have finished the repaving they were working on back then.

      Separately, if you shop at Amazon.com I’d really appreciate it if you’d bookmark my link to it and use it whenever you shop there. Just bookmark this: Amazon.com. Thanks!

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