Zion National Park should be on your camping bucket list if you love the great outdoors. Therefore we have put together our guide to Zion Campgrounds that will give you all the tips and tricks to help you make the most out of your stay. Zion national park campgrounds are among the best in the country and are magnets for campers every year. Due to the millions of visitors to Zion Park, it is best to be prepared.
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What Attracts Visitors To Zion National Park?
The first thing to cover in our guide to Zion Campgrounds is Zion National Park’s appeal. It is absolutely stunning. You are treated to sandstone cliffs and exciting rock formations overlooking the valley as soon as you arrive. You can also expect to see the Virgin River flowing through, acting as the life force for local wildlife and plants.
During a trip here, you encounter hundreds of different types of animals, including mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. You often see many animals basking in the sun on the coral-pink sand dunes. Still, nighttime is when most of the animals become active.
Summertime is the most popular time of the year to visit this gorgeous national park. But you can still find plenty to do during spring and autumn. Some people love visiting during winter, as it is incredibly quiet, making it the perfect time to miss the crowds.
Essential Things To Know When Visiting Zion National Park
To enter the park, you need to buy a recreational pass. The proceeds go towards preserving and caring for the park’s flora and fauna and valuable maintenance. However, a weekly pass only costs $35 for a private vehicle, and if you want to ride through on a motorcycle, it’s $30.
There are various campsites throughout the park, all of which have varying fees for spending time on their land and using their facilities.
Where To Camp In Zion National Park
Zion national park has three separate campgrounds. These are called Watchman Campground, Lava Point Campground, and South Campground. They all have their own facilities and characteristics to suit your needs. Let’s take a close look at each one so you know what to expect.
Watchman Campground is Zion National Park’s largest site on our guide to Zion Campgrounds and features over 180 campsites. It is located near the Zion Canyon visitor center. This is about a quarter of a mile away from the south entrance of the park in the town of Springdale, Utah. The campsites with electric hookups are open year-round, as are the ones for tents.
Alongside its tent campsites, Watchman offers RV camping. It also has seven group sites that are open from March through November. Some sites provide easy access for wheelchair users. All of them offer somewhere to pitch up for the night while giving you access to fire rings, picnic tables, and a dump station.
You also have access to potable water, flush toilets, and sinks for washing your dishes. However, the downside is there are no showers, but if you are in an RV, this should not bother you.
Even though the Watchman Campground is vast, it is also very popular as it is one of the best places to camp in the National Park. Therefore, it is mandatory to make reservations in advance. We recommend booking your campsite within six months of your trip.
As you can imagine, if you book early enough, there are quite a few campsite choices. Some are near the Virgin River and are regarded as some of the best campsites the park offers. The campground is open year-round and costs $20-$30 per night, while the group sites cost $50 per night, both of which are great options for exploring this part of southern Utah.
Lava Point Campground
Lava Point Campground sits high in a remote area of Zion national park. Many people like to camp here in the summer to take advantage of the cooler temperatures of the high elevation. This may suit you, as it can get pretty hot and crowded in the campsites in the valley.
It’s not the most convenient campground in the area, as it takes about an hour and twenty minutes to drive to the South entrance of Zion National Park park. You must take a scenic drive on the steep and winding Kolob Terrace road to get here. Before you drive up this road, you need to know that your vehicle must be under 20 feet long because it snakes through the landscape with tight turns. This road is not open in the winter due to the snow coverage, but it reopens when it melts in the spring.
Lava point campground has six primitive campsites, so don’t expect luxury amenities. Instead, expect pit toilets and no fresh water. Therefore you need to bring your own water for cooking, washing up and drinking. One of the best things about staying at Lava Point is the incredible views of the National Park, which is special to wake up to.
Even though lava point offers primitive camping, it is popular with people who want to get away from it all. Therefore you must make a reservation if you’d like to stay here, which you can do online.
South Campground sits roughly half a mile from the park’s south entrance and just a stone’s throw from the visitor’s center. This campground has 117 campsites, and most of them are RV sites and for tents. However, if you have an RV, it must be a maximum of 40 feet long to bring it to South Campground.
It is good to know that the South Campground has eight tent-only and four group campsites you don’t have to book. This is convenient if you are in the area, as long as they are not already taken. If you book well in advance, you should be able to secure a great spot with river views.
You can stay at the South Campground from the middle of March through to mid-October, costing $20 per night. You can book your campsite up to 2 weeks before your arrival date.
What To Do In Zion National Park
Our guide to Zion Campgrounds features lots of activities to enjoy, hiking being one of them. The park has miles of trails to explore during your visit. Some routes are super easy, while others are long and challenging, requiring an early start. If you are looking for a trail that will increase your heart rate with stunning views, head for Angel’s Landing. However, before you set off, you need to get a permit that works with a lottery system. This may sound awkward, but it means the trail won’t be overcrowded for your hike.
The imposing sandstone cliffs around Zion National Park present many opportunities for rock climbing. However, it isn’t the best place to go for beginner climbers due to the soft sandstone and its characteristics. However, experienced climbers enjoy the challenge the area provides. If you want to do an overnight climb, you must acquire a permit.
You can explore the national park on a bike, and many regard this as the best way to experience it. You can ride a bike anywhere in the park, including the pa’rus trail. You can also take your bike on the park shuttle buses, allowing you to quickly cover more ground.
Ranger Led Programs
We recommend that you book yourself onto one of the Ranger-led programs. These provide visitors the opportunity to learn all about the national park. These sessions happen throughout the year and are suitable for kids and adults. The Ranger will guide you around places of interest, and you can even become a junior ranger.
Hopefully, our guide to Zion Campgrounds has given you a wealth of information to help you better plan your visit. Each campground provides some excellent camping options for visiting Zion national park. Whichever one you choose, you are sure to enjoy your stay while experiencing the surrounding area. Lava Point is the best option for getting away from the crowds and summer heat. But the others offer more convenience, and you are often within walking distance of everything you need and the area’s attractions.
Tom is an outdoor enthusiast and writer based in the French Alps. Most days, you can find Tom shredding the slopes on a snowboard or splitboard, exploring the mountains on a hike, or hitting the trails on a mountain bike.