Guide To Camping In Zion National Park

 In Zion National Park

Zion National Park is among the most popular five national parks in Utah standing out for its geological spectacles. Each year, more than three million people from around the world come to see the most dramatic landscape in Zion where water meets the sand. If you are among the millions camping in Zion National Park, you are here in the right place.

We bring you guide to camping in Zion National Park, covering up with,

Camping in Zion National Park is one of the best ways to explore its true glamour. Enjoy high cliffs and sleep under the stars of Zion sky but choose the right place to camp at Zion!

Campgrounds in Zion National Park

Zion National Park has three campgrounds with gorgeous views of Zion’s rock walls. Campgrounds fill quickly in March through November as the peak season of visitations to Zion. So reservations require early booking for the main two campgrounds inside and the other one is free.

Lava Point Campground

Lava Point Campground
  • Open: May through October
  • Type: Tent Camping
  • Cost: $20
  • Reservation: No
  • Elevation: 7980
  • No drinking water, only pit toilets, no showers

Lava Point Campground is a first-come-first-serve option in Zion National Park. This is only a 90-minute drive from the south entrance of the park and located in the remote Kolob Canyon sector. As this is a primitive campground it is free to camp. This is located off the beaten path and perfect for camping without too many crowds. This is great for seasonal campers and should bring everything needed.

If you are not concerned about low facilities in your campground and what you prefer is camp in solitude, Lava Point Campground is best fitting. Sitting nearly 8000 feet above, it brings cooler climates even in summer. It is about 20 degrees cooler than the valley floor and brings gorgeous views around. This owns 6 primitive sites and is the quietest campground.

This is a free campsite with first-come, first-serve. It does not have access to water and you have to pack enough water and food when you are camping in Lava Point, Zion. It only has pit toilets and trash cans. Vehicles that are longer than 19 feet are not permitted to the campground on the dirt road.

Watchman Campground

Watchman Campground
  • Open: Open year-round
  • Type: Tent Camping and RV
  • Cost: $20 per night (camp tent only)/ $30 per night (RV electric)
  • Reservation: Yes
  • Elevation: 4000
  • Drinking water and flush toilets and more amenities are available but no showers

Watchman Campground is one of the most popular options for Zion visitors with close to park entrances (main south entrance) and also to Springdale as the closer town. The campground has 63 RV sites, 6 group campsites, 66 tent sites, and a visitors’ center. Plus, there is a nearby shuttle stop to get to the campsite easier. And it is always with wonderful views around.

Watchman Campground is rich in facilities including drinking water, fire pits, flush toilets, electrical hookups, picnic tables and a dump station. With all the favorable features, the campground fills up quickly and you need early reservations. We recommend at least 6 months in advance.

The campground is only walking distance from the park’s visitor center and also the shuttle system. Many of the park’s trails are easy to get to by the shuttle bus and you have the chance to have the best experience there from March through November.

Pets are permitted in the campground but have to be on a chain no longer than 6′ in length. And if you need WiFi, you can go to the visitor center.

South Campground

South Campground
  • Open: March to October
  • Type: Tent Camping and RV
  • Cost: $20 per night
  • Reservation: Yes
  • Elevation: 4000
  • Drinking water and flush toilets available but no showers

South campground is only a half mile from the south main entrance and an easy walking distance to the visitor center and the shuttle system. If you plan a visit from March through November, you can access the canyon and park’s trails through the shuttle system.

The campground is full of gorgeous views and cooler even in summer times next to the Virgin River. And from the campground, you can access Watchman Trail, Pa’rus trail, and Archeology Trail. If you are not concerned about electric hookups, South Campground is the best option for a great vacation outdoors. You have drinkable water, a fire pit, and a picnic table also with flush toilets, but no showers.

There is no WiFi in the sites but you can use them when in the visitor center. And to have firewood, you can walk out of the park and go to Happy Camper Market. Pets can be taken to the south campground but have to be on a chain no longer than 6′ in length. And can only take in certain areas of the park.

Sites here are totally 117 and most of them are uncovered to sun. There are no hook-ups in the campground but you have a dump station. Make sure to reserve your site about two weeks before the arrival.

Campgrounds outside the Zion National Park

Campgrounds outside the Zion National Park

Camping at Zion National Park is not easy for some. There are only limited campgrounds and to get into an option with good amenities, you have to be on alert on reservations.

With that in mind, you may want to look for camping options outside the park. Yes, that is a good idea and here we bring you some smart options.

Zion Canyon Campground and RV Resort

Zion Canyon Campground is located outside Zion National Park in the town of Springdale. This is a privately owned campground near to the park and comes with a lot of facilities. Best thing is this opens year round. It is located in a beautiful setting and only minutes away from the entrance to the park.

Zion Canyon Campground has 47 tent sites and 133 RV sites. It costs $49 per night (tent only) and $59 – $99 per night (RV Site w/ full hookups). RV sites come offering restrooms, showers, and also a swimming pool. If you want to be there for a great visit to Zion, make an early booking and get one of the best river-front sites.

Zion River Resort RV Park & Campground

Zion River Resort is rich in amenities costing $62 to $78 per day during the peak visitation period. This is located just outside the Zion National Park and features amazing views with canyons and peaks around. It will only take about 20 minute drives to the south main entrance of the park.

This RV type campground opens year-round. Different from campgrounds inside the park, here Zion River Resort offers more of a glamping experience. It is one of the high-facilities included places including restrooms, laundromat, showers and more. RV sites here are fully utility hookups also offering a swimming pool and spa.

You can find a gift shop and store on the site also offering cabins and guest rooms on a nightly basis.

Hi-Road Campground

If you want to experience something more modern and comfortable than tents, Hi-Road Campground is the option for you just a mile away from the east entrance of Zion National Park.

This brings 20 little cabins that are 400-square feet. The cabins are for 4 persons with full bathrooms, queen beds, electricity, WiFi, showers and hot/ cold running water. It charges $175 per luxurious night here and you need to make reservations early.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is one of the good options to camping in Zion with an outside option. It takes a 30 minute drive from the park to the east entrance of Zion National Park. And this is for both RV and Tent camping open year-round.

The campground features 22 campsites for RVs and tents costing $25 (with no hookups) to ($35 w/ with hookups). The facilities include showers, flush toilets, drinkable water and a dump station.

This campground is more popular for its beauty with coral covered sand dunes. Site is popular for red sandstone cliffs and ATVs.

Quail Creek State Park

Quail Creek State Park is located west of Zion National Park and takes about a 45 minute drive to the park. This is a cabin type campground to you which is accessible year-round. It requires reservations and costs $175 per night.

This is a perfect place for fishermen visiting the park as it is set on the banks of the Quail Creek reservoir.  It is fed by the Virgin River through an underground pipeline system.

The campground offers 24 campsites for RV and tent. Sites include a fire ring and a picnic table. You can purchase firewood and ice from the campground while restrooms and showers that operate with coins are also included.

What is the best time of the year to visit Zion National Park?

best time of the year to visit Zion National Park

Zion National Park is open 24 hours year round as every season brings unique beauty with seasonal colors.

Summer in Zion is warm and sunny, best for camping. It is the peak season at the park with a lot of crowds. Spring brings baby wildlife while autumn is great in Zion with brilliant fall foliage. And winter in Zion brings quiet beauty with cliffs and canyons under snowfall.

March through November is the most popular time to visit Zion National Park with all the park facilities are open including shuttle busses too. Even though summer is the peak season, it is also the red-hot time at Zion.

Read more about the best time to visit Zion National Park

Getting there- How to get to Zion National Park

how to get to zion national park

Zion National Park is located in Southwest, Utah. It only takes less than a 3 hour drive from Las Vegas. And it takes about a 6-7 hour drive from Los Angeles. It’s a perfect destination in the larger Utah road trip itinerary. And many prefer it as a standalone destination to camping.

The closest airport to Zion is the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas which is located about 2.75 hours from Zion. And the Salt Lake City International is the closest major airport to Zion which is only about 4.5 hours from the park.

Access to Zion is limited to Shuttle busses as there is no public transport to the park.

  • Projected Drive time to Zion National Park
  • Las Vegas, Nevada – 2.75 hours
  • Flagstaff, Arizona – 4 hours
  • Salt Lake City, Utah – 4.5 hours
  • Phoenix, Arizona – 6 hours

Zion is located centrally and within driving distance from Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. You see all three cities have international airports and the area it locates make it easy to visit on the way to multiple destinations. So it is an easy pick for most on the route.

The park has two main entrances; the east entrance and the south entrance. Both the routes are accessible from route 9.

You can get more details on Zion directions and transportation page about traveling to Zion.

Zion Shuttle

Zion Shuttle

The Zion shuttle runs March through November, which is the peak season at Zion. And on holiday weekends too, you can find Zion shuttle working. During the shuttle season, private vehicles are not permitted on the Scenic Drives in Zion National Park.

Through the main canyon, the Zion shuttle takes visitors to eight spots. Here you are things in details,

Zion Canyon Visitors Center– Found in the north of the Zion park entrance, and must for first-time visitors. Access to the Watchman Trail and Pa’rus Trail is easy from here

Zion Human History Museum – March through November, you can visit the museum

Canyon Junction – Considered a minor stop at the junction of Zion Canyon Scenic Drive/Route 9. Can enjoy the end of the Pa’rus Trail, appealing views, and the river access

Court of the Patriarchs – A small trail direct through the views of  the Zion’s most iconic creations

Zion Lodge– One key stops on the shuttle giving access to the Emerald Pools trailhead. You can find restrooms, a restaurant, a gift shop, and a great lawn for those who loves picnics

The Grotto– Lead to the most popular Angel’s Landing trail, Kayenta Trail, and the West Rim Trail

Weeping Rock– This shuttle stop leads to many trailheads. And that includes Weeping Rock, East Rim Trail, Observation Point, Hidden Canyon, Cable Mountain, and the Deertrap Mountain (this is currently closed)

Big Bend– Views of the Great White Throne and the Angels Landing  

Temple of Sinawava –Find as the last stop of the shuttle and brings the access to the most popular Riverside Walk, that takes you to the start of the Narrows

Guide to camping in Zion National Park- Catch the tips

  • Choose an outside campground to stay in– With only three campgrounds inside the park, you have a limited choice. But you can enjoy staying outside Zion National Park. These can be expensive than the campsites inside but will offer more comforts to what you pay
  • Decide the right stay and book early– With the Lava Point in the remote northeastern section of the park, we only have limited campgrounds inside the park. So if you are thinking about staying inside, you need to reserve early. Booking six months early is recommended and if in case if you missed it, you can stay in a privately-owned campground located outside
  • Be ready– Different seasonal colors in Zion bring different moods. So be prepared with all the camping essentials. If you are planning to visit in late fall to early spring, pack up your winter clothes, sleeping bags, and blankets to stay warm at night. Summer is hot in Zion and winter is beyond freezing. So plan ahead and take everything in your pack
  • Access to Zion shuttle– You are not allowed to drive into the park in your own vehicles during most of the month. This is because of the park’s shuttle system. It is really a good experience for visitors to stay in a park with a shuttle service as you do not need to drive to visitor centers. Plan your visit to Zion when the shuttle system is working
  • Pack the essentials– With campgrounds inside the park, you only have limited facilities. If you are planning to stay inside the park, bring sufficient water, food, portable toilets, blankets, clothes, and everything you require to stay extra comfortable during your visit. And if you are coming in summer, bring things for sun protection

Leave No Trace

The more you like to enjoy the beauty of nature, the more you need honor and protection. Practice Leave No Trace principles and consider not bringing harm to the pristine nature of Zion National Park and also other public lands. At the same time consider local rules and regulations on Zion National Park during the stay.

  • Plan for camping and prepare the essentials
  • Travel and camp on durable planes/ surfaces
  • Dispose of waste suitably
  • Lessen campfire effects
  • Respect and no harm to wildlife
  • Be attentive to other visitors to the campsites

Where do you plan to stay while camping in Zion National Park? Find the perfect campground and have a happy and comfortable stay. There are plenty of things waiting on. Happy Camping in Zion!

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