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
GPS: N 46.94842, W 103.52808
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.
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
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
Over-the-air: I didn’t check but a neighbor said he received 3 NBC channels.
Restrooms: Flush toilets, cold water sinks, paper towels, no soap
Water: Yes, spigots around the campground and a potable water fill for RVs at the campground entrance
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.
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.
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.
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…”
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