We had been wanting to return to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota since visiting the park for the first time in the fall of 2013. At that time, we were only able to take day trips over from Dickinson, 37 miles to the east, where we were staying in a hotel. This time, we were looking forward to camping in the park and being able to experience it more fully.
The Cottonwood Campground in the South Unit of the park was where we stayed. We did not book a reservation as by the time we knew our exact arrival date, all the reservable sites were already reserved. Half of the sites are first-come, first-serve, however. Arriving before noon on a Sunday worked like a charm. We got a very nice pull-through site in the north loop and had a choice of several. Our site was quite private; perfect for us.
There are two loops in the campground, but the south loop is tight with some lower-hanging trees, and the site size would not work for any motorhome longer than maybe 25'. This side attracts tenters, pop-up campers, and smaller RVs.
The north loop consists of mostly pull-through and some back-in sites. The pull-through sites could accommodate most sizes of RVs, and some sites were massive. Some days, especially Friday, the north loop fills up before noon, and on Friday, the entire campground, even the walk-in tent sites, was full by noon. We saw many rigs driving round and round looking for a site mid-week. We felt very lucky to have nabbed a choice site, since we planned on staying for a week.
There are no hookups here, so we were boondocking once again, but there are quite a few water spigots, flush toilets (no showers), and generator hours from 8am-8pm if needed. And the cost was only $7/night with Barry’s Senior Pass, an incredible deal for such a lovely place.
We had bison coming right through our site at times, and two beautiful turkeys led us into it originally.
We found the Cottonwood Campground to be a pleasant, peaceful, and usually quiet place to stay. We did have folks beside us for one night who ran their generator all night long, in violation of campground rules, but that is the exception, not the norm. I would have turned 'em in if they'd stayed another day, you betcha!
The campground even had an old-timey payphone booth. No idea if the phone worked!
Stay tuned for much more from this gorgeous national park!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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