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Camping in Zion National Park: Campgrounds, Tips, & More!

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Do you want to learn more about camping in Zion? You’re in the right place!

Most people’s lists of the best national parks in the United States have a similar resonance: Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Grand Canyon. But there’s one that’s frequently left off the list: Zion.

From its soaring sandstone temples, verdant river valley, and narrow, intricate slot canyons, camping in Zion National Park is sure to lift any nature lover’s spirit.

Why go Zion National Park Camping?

Well, it’s simple – because there’s nothing else like this spectacular park. As the Virgin River winds through the campgrounds of southern Utah, it cuts a deep, beautiful canyon into its plateaus—with truly spectacular results.

This deep canyon, its rose-red walls soaring into the sky like all-natural skyscrapers, holds in its depths a verdant river valley, delicate waterfalls, cathedral-like arches, and soaring views. At night, the narrow sky between the canyon walls is awash with glittering stars.

Most of the guests visiting Zion will leave when the sun goes down—but if you stay and camp, you’ll get to see the beauty of the Milky Way in all its glory, experience the calm of a desert night, and be right by the sights in the morning.

In this article, we’ll be counting down the top campgrounds in and near Zion National Park, as well as sharing some tips and tricks.

Red and tan tent in a forest.

Camping in Zion National Park

Below, learn more about the campsites directly inside Zion.

Watchmen Campground

Watchmen Campground is located on the banks of the Virgin River, right by the visitor center and in the shadow of the massive sandstone canyon walls.

Here, you’ll be able to see the tips of the giant temples glow like massive candles in the setting sun long after the valley floor is shrouded in shadow; and when night falls, the sky above you turns to a sea of diamonds on inky black velvet.

For anyone interested in Zion National Park camping, this is probably your best bet; it’s right by the park shuttle stop and is the only campground in Zion to be open all year round. It has potable water, trash facilities, and cell phone reception but not much in the way of other amenities. The nearest showers are a shuttle ride away.

There are 176 sites, with 95 of them being RV hookups. Fees are $30.00 for an electrical hookup and $20.00 for a tent-only site. Group campsites range in price depending on how many people you have; it starts at $50.00 for groups smaller than nine people and goes up to $130.00 a night for forty people.

Reservations are not required but are strongly suggested. You can make reservations up to six months in advance.

Blue tent near a picnic table surrounded by mountains.

South Campground

Located just up the road from Watchmen Campground, South Campground is a scenic little campsite featuring much the same view and amenities; however, there are no electrical hookups.

It’s right by the banks of the Virgin River, so you get ample shade from the scorching summer sun in the form of graceful cottonwood trees. There are flush toilets, potable water, and cell phone reception, but no showers.

Eight of the 117 sites are tent-only; the rest can accommodate an RV. Campsites are $20.00, and group sites are $50.00. Reservations are necessary and can be made two weeks in advance. It’s open from March through October.

Lava Point Campground

Situated high on the Kolob Terrace Road, Lava Point Campground will take your breath away—and not just from the altitude.

The soaring, rugged, rose-red outcroppings of the Kolob Canyons are a mouthwatering view that will turn even the most stoic and hard-hearted of tourists into a weepy, nature-appreciating mess.

And, if there’s anything better than driving out there to see their view, it has to be camping there: seeing them catch the light in the evening and the glittering stars appear at night.

Unless you’re up for a long backcountry hike, Lava Point campground is the only opportunity for camping on Kolob Terrace. It’s a primitive campsite: the only amenities are pit toilets and fire rings. You’ll have to carry everything you need, though there are park rangers on staff in the summer.

Reservations must be made online in advance, and as there are only six campsites, they tend to fill up quickly. It costs some amount of money to camp there, but the Park Service website doesn’t specify—call ahead. The park is closed in the winter.

View of a rocky landscape from a green tent.

Camping Near Zion National Park

Prefer to camp near the park inside? Here are some of your best options!

Zion River Resort RV Park & Campground

So you’ve just come from Lava Point Campground. You’re tired of roughing it. Have we got the campground for you!

Tucked away by the meandering Virgin River and in between red rock outcroppings that look like scenery straight from a spaghetti Western, Zion River Resort certainly will win hearts. The emerald leaves of the trees provide plentiful shade.

Forget roughing it: this campground certainly delivers on the amenities. There’s a pool and spa, a game room and big-screen TV, a playground, and even an ice cream shop!

This is an RV-only campground, and you wouldn’t want to tent here anyways; you’d be sleeping on concrete. Cabins are also available; these are fairly basic affairs, with heating and air conditing provided, but no kitchen. You’ll also have to bring your own bedsheets.

RV sites are divided into standard and long, with both pull-throughs and back-ins available. Riverside back-ins (no pull-throughs unless you have a submersible RV) are available at a premium. A standard back-in is $69, a long back-in or riverside standard is $75, and premium riverside back-ins or pull-throughs are $86. The cabins are $130.

All rates given here are high-season rates; there’s a substantial discount in the off-season.

Reservations are required. The main downside of this place is that it’s a bit of a drive away from Zion; it’s located in Virgin, halfway between both entrances to the park, and not especially convenient to either. There’s a free shuttle for campground guests, though!

White campervan driving on a red road through the desert.

Hi-Road Campground

Hi-Road Campground is a lovely campground and is undoubtedly one of the best spots for camping in Zion National Park.

Here, you’ll find a rustic warmth that will make you feel right at home. These tiny cabins, paneled in rough wood, give you the ambiance of true camping—while still giving you the comfort of a real bed and plumbing!

Each cabin can sleep two guests in one queen and one double loft bed (above the bathroom). There’s no real living area here other than the patio; if it rains, you’re out of luck. (You’re getting a true camping experience here.)

There’s also no kitchen, but each unit does have a fire pit. Each cabin has air conditioning. Pets are allowed, but there’s a $100 deposit.

Cabins start at $40 a night, and tent sites are $30 a night. Reservations are necessary.

Zion Camping Tips

Below, find some of our best tips for camping within Zion.

White and red shuttle buses driving on a road through a red rocky canyon.

You’re gonna need to take the shuttle

One secret of Zion National Park is that cars aren’t allowed inside the main valley. Instead, Zion features a park shuttle that takes you to and from the main tourist draws in the park, as well as the two campgrounds (Watchmen and South) that are in the park.

If you’re going to be spending most of your days within Zion Canyon, as most visitors do, you’re going to have to find parking.

There are two separate shuttle lines the NPS operates in Zion: the Park Line, which drives the length of Zion Canyon Road, and the Springdale line, which runs from the visitor center to 9 stops in Springdale.

If you’re camping in Zion National Park, at either Watchmen or South, you’ll be right by the shuttle, but you’ll have to find a place to park your car at the visitor center. If you’re staying outside the park, at Zion River or Hi-Road, you’ll have to drive there on a daily basis.

Zion River has a daily shuttle for its guests; we assume this means you take their shuttle to the visitor center, then board the park shuttle to explore the canyon. Hi-Road, meanwhile, is outside the park by the East Entrance; convenient for exploring the eastern half of the park, but it means you’ll have to drive a fair bit to enter the canyon, as well as find a new parking place daily.

A word of warning: don’t wait too long to take the shuttle back. If you miss the last shuttle, you’ll have to walk back to Zion Lodge, then call for a ride—and if there’s no service available to pick you up, you’ll have to walk the full nine miles back to the visitor center. Probably in the dark. We hope you brought a flashlight!

Summers are scorching

Trust me; I know this one from experience. Summers in Zion National Park can easily feel like you’ve walked into an oven. Plan your activities for the beginning of the day, and make sure you drink plenty of water—1 gallon per person per day.

Take only pictures, leave only footprints

You’re a guest in nature—act like it.

So that’s our list of the best spots for camping in Zion National Park. We hope you enjoyed it—have a wonderful day, and happy adventures!

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