Just Go to Theodore Roosevelt National Park - Camping – Just Go Travel Studios

Just Go to Theodore Roosevelt National Park - Camping

North Dakota Theodore Roosevelt National Park

For those looking to get an immersive park experience, then Theodore Roosevelt National Park camping is a great way to do so.  Camping is usually a great way to get into the park early and beat the crowds.  While this park is never very busy, after the bulk of the visitors leave (and before they arrive in the morning), Theodore Roosevelt National Park is an especially magical place that is best experienced by camping among the amazing North Dakota badlands. 

Hiking in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

There are only a few campgrounds inside Theodore Roosevelt National Park, but they are all great and worthwhile considering on your way through this beautiful part of the country.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL PARK CAMPGROUNDS: OVERVIEW

There are three Theodore Roosevelt National Park campgrounds, and all are accessible by motorized vehicle.  There are two main campgrounds: Cottonwood campground in the South Unit, and Juniper campground in the less visited and more remote North Unit.  Both are great spots to visit, so figuring out the best campground in Theodore Roosevelt National Park is really up to your preferences.

It’s a mistake that more people don’t visit this park, as there are so many reasons to love Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  And while not many people visit here, the small town of Medora (which houses just around 120 full-time residents), swells in the summertime.  In fact, their seasonal employees number well over 300 in the summer, and the number of visitors in the town can top 5,000 in a given day!

While you won’t need to reserve a campsite as far in advance as you do at some of the larger parks, you definitely want to call ahead as soon as you can to get camping reservations.  On the other hand, if you are not able to get them in advance, make sure you come early in the day to see if there were any cancelations or first-come, first-served vacancies.  Even when we visited during the month of July, there were plenty of spots available each day in both campgrounds.

There are no supplies to speak of once you get inside of the park in either the North or South Units.  From the Cottonwood campground in the south, Medora is a relatively short drive away (about 15 minutes) and there is a good chance they will have what you need.  From the North Unit, Watford City is about 25 minutes from the Juniper Campground. 

Badlands, Wind Cave and Theodore Roosevelt Itinerary

Our downloadable itinerary for Theodore Roosevelt National Park covers all the best hikes, where to stay, what to pack and what to do while you are in the area.  Make sure you download it before you leave, as internet service in the park is rare.

 

THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL PARK CAMPGROUNDS - SOUTH UNIT

Theodore Roosevelt National Park South Unit Campgrounds

Map of the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, courtesy of the National Park Service

Cottonwood Campground:

Cottonwood Campground

  • Location: The Cottonwood Campground is located on East River Road in the South Unit, 5.6 miles north of the South Unit Visitor Center, which is on the northwestern corner of Medora, ND. Directions from the South Unit Visitor Center to Cottonwood Campground.
  • Accessible via:
  • Reservations: Offered May through September. Cottonwood Campground Reservations.
  • Capacity: 72 sites.
  • Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: No / No / No.
  • Toilets / Showers: Flush toilets and no showers.
  • Nearby: The Wind Canyon trail starts about 5 miles north of the campground from the Scenic Loop Drive. This easy trail was our favorite trail in the park-we ended up hiking it twice in the days we visited.  The 0.5-mile (round-trip) out-and-back trail has only a small amount of elevation gain (less than a hundred feet) and leads to an overview of a picturesque bend in the Little Missouri River.  This is a great place to spot wildlife, as bison routinely congregate along the riverbed and antelope and horses frequent the fields to the south.  Additionally, this is one of the best spots in the park to capture incredible views of the sun setting.  The campground is also situated with easy access to the Scenic Loop Drive, which is a 36-mile loop that will take about 90 minutes (if you take your time).   
  • Additional details: Since the Cottonwood Campground is located in the south unit, it is definitely the most popular campground in the park. It backs up to the Little Missouri River and many of the campsites have shade.  The sites are very large, especially by National Park standards.  The campground is generally very quiet, with the exception of when one of the bison herds walks through the campground (make sure you keep your distance-they can get aggressive if bothered, but if you leave them alone they will return the favor). 

Roundup Group Horse Campground:

  • Location: The Roundup Group Horse Camp is located on a dirt road in the South Unit on the northwest side of the Scenic Loop Road, approximately 12 miles from the South Unit Visitor Center. Directions from the South Unit Visitor Center to Roundup Group Horse Campground.
  • Accessible via:
  • Reservations: Offered May through September and are required. Reservations open up on the first business day in March at 8:00 AM, Mountain Time. Roundup Group Horse Campground Reservations.
  • Capacity: 1 site, but it can handle up to 20 individuals with horses or up to 30 individuals without horses.
  • Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: No / No / No.
  • Toilets / Showers: Pit toilets and no showers.
  • Nearby: The Wind Canyon trail is just south of the intersection with the road that leads to the campground from the Scenic Loop Drive and is highly recommended. The main attraction of this campground is for those who love to horseback ride-horses are allowed at all trailheads and on all trails, provided that you follow the park’s regulations for horseback riding.

Hiking the Wind Canon Trail in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

  • Additional details: This is a great spot for group camping, as you’ll be the only party on the entire campground and it is in a secluded location. The campground includes corrals and a hitching rail.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL PARK CAMPGROUNDS - NORTH UNIT

North Unit Theodore Roosevelt National Park camping map

Map of the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, courtesy of the National Park Service

Juniper Campground:

Juniper Camping Area in Theodore Roosevelt National Park
  • Location: The Juniper Campground is situated on Scenic Drive road in the North Unit. It is about 5 miles west of the North Unit Visitor Center.  Directions from the North Unit Visitor Center to Juniper Campground.
  • Accessible via: Car
  • Reservations: None.
  • Capacity: 51 sites.
  • Electricity / Water Hookups / Dump Station: No / No / Yes.
  • Toilets / Showers: Flush toilets and no showers.
  • Nearby: The North Unit is not large, so pretty much anything you want to do in this part of the park is a short drive away. Right near the campground is the Buckhorn Trail.  This is a 12.2-mile loop with over 1000 feet of elevation gain (it is up and down much of the way).  The trail is not very well marked, and it’s likely that you’ll be one of only a few hikers on the trail (you will likely see more animals than people!).  The Little Mo Nature Trail is a very short walk nearby as well.  Finally, our favorite hike with the Caprock Coulee Trail.  This 4.3-mile moderately difficult trail travels through amazing landscapes and is a nice combination of all that the North Unit has to offer-wildlife, badlands, panoramic views and quiet.

Hiking the Caprock Coulee Trail in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

  • Additional details: The North Unit is approximately 68 miles from the town of Medora, and it will take a little over an hour to get up here. It is totally worth visiting both units in the park, but it will take a bit of planning if you are short on time.  The Juniper Campground itself is extremely quiet, and frequently doesn’t fill up at all.  The campsites are very large and some have shade.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL PARK CAMPGROUNDS - GROUP CAMPING

The most sought-after campground in the park for group camping is the Roundup Group Horse Campground (see above for details).  There is also group camping available at the Juniper Campground in the North Unit.  For details, check out the group camping reservations for the Juniper Campground.

CAMPGROUNDS IN MEDORA, NORTH DAKOTA

The campgrounds near Theodore Roosevelt National Park are great, especially when you are looking to be closer to the town of Medora or have options for hookups.  The Medora Campground is a great option in particular.  There are also a number of free campsites around Medora that may also suit your needs.

FURTHER INFORMATION ON THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL PARK FROM JUST GO TRAVEL STUDIOS

Custom Travel Posters from Just Go Travel Studios

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Poster

Just go Travel Studios in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

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