Guide to Camping in Zion National Park

Zion National Park - Camping Guide

Camping can be a challenge in Zion National park. With only two significant campgrounds, landing a reservation requires booking well in advance. With this in mind, you may want to consider free camping outside the park.

Many campgrounds outside the park offer exceptional facilities with the same views that you find inside the park. Also, consider the exceptional backcountry camping opportunities that Zion offers. While this may require additional equipment, backcountry camping offers a one-of-a-kind way to experience all that Zion has to offer.

Finally, keep in mind that the best time to camp at Zion is during the fall and spring. While summer is a popular time at the park, intense heat can make camping a miserable experience.

In this article, we’ll cover the best options for camping inside or outside the park.

Read More :

Campgrounds in Zion National Park

Lava Point Campground

  • Type : Tent
  • Open : May to October
  • Cost : $20
  • Reservation : No

Lava Point Campground offers a more peaceful campground experience with just six primitive campsites available. It’s located in the remote Kolob Canyons section of Zion National Park. The campground is a 90-minute drive from the park’s South Entrance.

If you’re looking for solitude and don’t mind the lack of some amenities that large campgrounds offer, Lava Point is an excellent option, especially in the heat of the summer. It sits at more than 8,000 feet, making it nearly 20 degrees cooler than the valley floor. It also offers amazing views of the surrounding area.

Campsites are first come, first serve. Lava Point includes pit toilets and trash cans but does not have access to water. Vehicles that are longer than 19 feet are not allowed on the dirt road to this campground.

Watchman Campground

  • Type : RV / Tent
  • Open : Year round
  • Cost : $20 per night (tent only) $30 per night (RV electric)
  • Reservation : Yes

With its close proximity to one of the park’s entrances and the town of Springdale, Watchman Campground is one of the most popular campgrounds in the park.

In addition to being just a quarter mile from the park’s entrance, the campground is walking distance from the park’s main visitor center and the Zion Canyon Shuttle System. This is significant, given that the canyon and most of the park’s trails are only accessible by shuttle bus from March through November.

The campground offers access to toilets and drinking water. RV electric hookups are available; however, there are no plumbing hookups. A dump station is available at the entrance of the campground. As this campground fills up quickly, reservations are recommended at least six months in advance.

Zion Canyon Campground and RV Resort

  • Type : RV / Tent
  • Open : Year round
  • Cost : $49 per night (tent only) $59 to $99 per night (RV Site w/ full hookups)
  • Reservation : Yes

Located just outside the park in the town of Springdale, this privately owned campground offers close access to the park and a long list of amenities. The campground sits in a picturesque location with the park’s canyons serving as a backdrop.

Zion Canyon Campground features 47 tent sites and 133 RV sites. RV sites offer full water/sewer and electricity hookups. It also offers full onsite showers, restrooms, and a swimming pool.

Although this campground is outside the park, the entrance to the park is just minutes away and the campground is included in the park’s shuttle system. The campground also features easy access to nearby shops. Be sure to book early to claim one of the campground’s plum riverfront sites.

South Campground

  • Type : RV / Tent
  • Open : March to October
  • Cost : $20 per night
  • Reservation : Yes

Adjacent to nearby Watchman campground, South Campground is located just a half mile from the park’s South Entrance. The campground is a short walk to the park’s main visitor’s center and shuttle system, which is the only way to access the canyon and the park’s trails from March through November.

The Virgin River runs adjacent to the site and offers an opportunity to cool off in the summertime. The Watchman Trail, Archeology Trail and Pa’rus trail are accessible from the campground.

South Campground features 117 campsites with access to potable water and flush toilets. There are no hook-ups available in this campground. Cottonwood trees at the campground provide some cover but the majority of the sites are exposed to sun.

The Narrows

  • Type : Backcountry Tent
  • Open : Year round
  • Cost : $5 reservation fee
  • Reservation : Yes

These backwoods campsites offer an amazing camping opportunity for backpackers to camp inside the canyon. The sites are located along the Virgin River in the Narrows area of the canyon. These primitive campsites can be reserved online or used on a walk-up basis.

As there are only 12 campsites, the park will only issue 12 backpacking permits per day. Use the park’s online reservation system to make an advanced reservation. With their seclusion and proximity to the river, sites 1, 6, 7 and 8 are excellent options. As these are popular backcountry camping sites, make sure to book early.

Keep in mind that you will need to take a shuttle to the Narrows area in order to reach these sites as private vehicles are not allowed in the park from March through November.

Zion River Resort RV Park & Campground

  • Type : RV only
  • Open : Year round
  • Cost : $62 to $78 a day during peak season.
  • Reservation : Yes

Zion River Resort offers an exceptional campground loaded with amenities. Located just outside Zion National Park, it features breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks and canyons. The campground is about a 20 minute drive to the park’s South Entrance in Springdale.

Unlike campgrounds you find inside national parks, Zion offers more of a glamping experience. The resort features a wide variety of amenities onsite including a laundromat, restrooms, showers, and a variety of different types of RV sites complete with full utility hookups. The campground also offers a swimming pool and spa.

There is also a convenience store and gift shop on site. In addition to RV sites, the campground also includes cabins and guest rooms that are available on a nightly basis.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

  • Type : RV and Tent
  • Open : Year round
  • Cost : $25 (no hookups) to ($35 w/ hookups)
  • Reservation : Yes

Zion National Park has a limited number of campgrounds available inside the park, which means you may need to consider options outside the park’s boundaries. One great option is Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, which resides southeast of Zion National Park. It’s about a 30 minute drive from the park to Zion’s east entrance.

The park’s campground includes 22 campsites for tents and RVs. Amenities include flush toilets, showers, potable water, and a dump station.

In addition to providing another campground option for Zion National Park, this state park also offers its own attraction. As its name suggests, the park is well known for its coral covered sand dunes, which are a popular site for ATVs and red sandstone cliffs.

Hi-Road Campground

  • Type : Cabins
  • Open : Year round
  • Cost : $175 per night
  • Reservation : Yes

Looking for something a little more modern than a tent? Then consider Hi-Road Campground, which is located just a mile from the park’s east entrance.

This campground features a collection of 20 tiny 400-square foot cabins, each of which sleeps four. Each cabin comes complete with queen beds, full bathrooms, wifi, showers, electricity, and hot cold and running water. These cabins offer a rustic yet luxurious place to stay during your visit to Zion.

The campground, which opened in 2019, also allows for tent camping, which is available upon request.

Quail Creek State Park

  • Type : Cabins
  • Open : Year round
  • Cost : $175 per night
  • Reservation : Yes

This state park, located about 45 minutes west of ZionNational Park, is an excellent camping option for fishermen visiting the national park. This campground is set on the banks of the Quail Creek reservoir, which is fed through an underground pipeline by the Virgin River.

The creek, which reaches a maximum depth of 120 feet, is cold enough to house rainbow trout, bullhead catfish, largemouth bass, and crappie. And, with its temperate winter weather, Quail Creek is also a great option for winter camping.

The campground includes 24 campsites for both tents and RVs with full utility hookups. Each site includes a fire ring and shaded picnic table. Firewood and ice are available for purchase at the campground. Restrooms and coin-operated showers are also available.

Smithsonian Butte Camping

  • Type : Tent
  • Open : Year round
  • Cost : –
  • Reservation : No

If you’re looking for a backcountry camping experience reachable by car but far away from the crowds that swarm Zion, then check what some consider to be one of the best kept camping secrets in the area: Smithsonian Butte Camping.

This campground features about a dozen dispersed campsites in a backcountry wilderness area surrounded by breathtaking views of the area’s mountains. This is primitive camping, so you won’t find any amenities here. A four-wheel drive vehicle is required to reach the high elevation campsites.

Camping Tips for Zion National Park

  1. Stay outside the park. With only two main campgrounds inside the park, consider the options outside of Zion. While these options may be more expensive, they offer exceptional amenities that the national park campgrounds do not. And, since the two campgrounds inside the park are just inside the entrance, you may not be gaining much by staying inside the park.
  2. Book Early. With the exception of tiny Lava Point in the remote northeastern section of the park, there are only two campgrounds inside Zion National Park, meaning you’ll need to book well ahead if you want to stay inside the park. The park suggests making reservations at least six months in advance. Otherwise, plan on using one of the privately-owned campgrounds outside of the park.
  3. Access to shuttles is key. Zion is unique among national parks in that you can’t drive through the park on your own during the majority of the year. This means you need to access the park’s shuttle system. It’s more convenient to stay at a campground that has shuttle service, eliminating the need to drive to the park’s visitors center from your campground to access a shuttle.
  4. Be prepared. If you decide to go camping from the late fall to early spring, you’ll need to be prepared for cool temperatures at night. Temperatures can fall into the 40s in the fall and spring and below freezing in the wintertime.
  5. Summer is a hot time to camp. Summer is a hot time to camp at the park especially when you consider that many of the sites in the campgrounds lack sufficient tree cover. Keep that in mind when selecting a campsite during the summer months as temperatures can routinely reach well into the 90s during the day.
  6. Camp in the backcountry. The best way to experience Zion’s beauty and terrain is through its backcountry campsites. While you’ll need special backcountry camping equipment, the experience is worth it. Keep in mind that you’ll need to get a permit for backcountry camping.

Amanda Williams

Amanda Williams is a writer, plant-nerd, and outdoor enthusiast. She has traveled extensively, around the U.S., throughout Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Everywhere she treks, she takes time to enjoy the outdoors. John Muir is her hero. She aspires to inspire people to live better as he did.