Utah has five impressive national parks: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches. Of these “Big Five,” Zion National Park is the most popular, offering developed campgrounds to RVers who prefer to camp in less primitive locations.
Let’s take a closer look at Zion National Park camping so you can enjoy the beauty and geological wonders of this park in southwestern Utah.
About Zion National Park
Zion, Utah’s most visited national park, is located in the southwestern part of the state. More than five million people visited it in 2021, making Zion the 10th most visited park in the country.
It includes more than 90 miles of hiking trails, three developed campgrounds, and 232 square miles of mesas, canyons, cliffs, and waterfalls.
More than 1,000 plants live in this protected area, from cottonwoods and firs to yucca. Hundreds of animal species call it home, including the endangered California condors and the threatened Mexican spotted owls.
What is Zion National Park known for?
Zion is best known for its 2,000-foot cliffs. The Virgin River winds through narrow, deep sandstone canyons. These geological formations attract millions of visitors each year who look down Zion Canyon and hike the Narrows.
Many enjoy backpacking, canyoneering, and hiking. Trails range from easy to strenuous, so visitors of varying abilities can enjoy the beauty of Zion.
In addition, camping in Zion National Park is ideal for stargazers. The jagged silhouette of the cliffs against the dark night sky, twinkling with thousands of stars, is a breathtaking spectacle.
Is it possible to camp in Zion National Park?
Zion National Park has numerous backcountry campgrounds available for hiking and overnight camping. There are also designated campgrounds along the La Verkin Creek Trail, Hop Valley Trail, West Rim Trail, Virgin River Narrows, and Southwest Desert Trails.
Other campsites are located along the East Rim, Wildcat Canyon, and Connector Trails. A wilderness permit is required for all overnight backpacking trips in the park.
Zion also has three developed campgrounds. Watchman Campground in Zion Canyon is the only site open year-round.
South Campground, located near the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, is closed in winter. So is Lava Point Campground, located on Kolob Terrace Road, about 80 minutes from the south entrance to Zion Canyon.
Is it hard to get a campsite in Zion?
It can be difficult to get a campsite in Zion National Park if you don’t plan ahead. Watchman Campground can be reserved up to six months in advance and is often fully booked from April through October.
If you don’t meet the six-month reservation deadline, you may have trouble booking a campsite. Even the more remote Lava Point Campground is always full in high season.
All three campgrounds have a reservation system. So if you want to camp in Zion National Park, you should plan ahead.
Everything you need to know about Zion National Park Camping
If you want to book a campsite in Zion National Park, there are a few things you need to know. First, reservations are required. Don’t just drive into a campground and expect to get a spot.
And each of the three developed campgrounds offers different amenities and only allows RVs of a certain length. Learn more about camping in Zion National Park here.
Total Places: Watchman Campground has 176 sites, 65 RV only and 69 tent only.
RV Max Length: These sites are for RVs less than 40 feet in length only.
Reservation required: Remember you must make a reservation.
Price: Cost of overnight stay at the campsite $30 per night or $20 for a tent-only site.
Watchman Campground, the most popular campground in Zion National Park, is easy to get to. You’ll find it next to the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, a quarter mile from the south entrance in Springdale, Utah.
All sites have a site for RVs or tents, a picnic table, and a fire pit. There are electric hookups and cell phone reception at 95 campsites, but no Internet connection. You also have access to a dump station and drinking water on site.
Total sites: South Campground has 117 sites.
RV Max Length: You can not bring an RV 40 ft.
Reservation required: You must reserve in advance.
Price: This campground costs $20 per night.
South Campground is near Watchman Campground, but has no electric hookups. You can run generators from 8 to 10 am and 6 to 8 pm.
Like Watchman Campground, you don’t have Internet access, but you can get cell phone reception. All sites have a site for RVs or tents, a picnic table, and a fire pit. From March to October, you can use the dump station and have access to drinking water.
Please note: IIs a national park pass worth it for seniors? Let’s take a look!
Lava Point Campground
Total sites: Lava Point has only six campsites.
Camper Max Length: This tent-only site does not allow RVs.
Reservation required: Reservations are available at Lava Point Campground on a rolling two-week window.
Price: Fortunately this is a free campground in Zion National Park.
There are only six primitive sites, so make reservations as soon as possible. There are pit toilets and trash cans, but no water. Also, you must store your food in a vehicle or a lockable hard-sided container.
There is no cell phone reception or internet at this primitive campground. Finally, you are not allowed to bring vehicles longer than 19 feet to Lava Point.
Do you need a parking pass for Zion National Park Camping?
Even if you have a campground reservation or backcountry permit, you must pay the entrance fee or have a park pass to enter Zion National Park. A weekly pass is valid for seven consecutive days and costs $35 for a private vehicle.
The park accepts all annual and lifetime passes upon entry. If you plan to visit Zion National Park several times a year, you should purchase a Zion Annual Pass, which costs $70.
How many days in Zion is enough?
Depending on what you want to do in Zion, a visit can last two or three days or up to a week.
The park is a hiker’s paradise. So if you enjoy the outdoors, stay longer than just watching a sunset at Kolob Canyons Viewpoint. Or you can drive down Zion Canyon Drive in a couple of hours.
For most of the year, the Zion Shuttle operates to reduce the number of vehicles in the park. The shuttle provides easy access to most of the popular overlooks and hiking trails.
With a little planning, you can explore Zion in just a few days. If you want to take it slower and enjoy the scenery more, stay a week.
Remember: If you’re in Zion, be sure to hike Angels Landing! Before you head out, here’s everything you need to know about this hike