8 Best Campgrounds near Zion National Park | PlanetWare (2023)

Written by Lana Law
Updated May 26, 2022

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When it comes to Utah's "Mighty 5" parks, Zion National Park is one of the best places for camping. The elevation is not excessively high, so temperatures are warmer here from fall through spring than parks like Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef.

The most popular place for camping is near the South Gate. This is the area closest to the park's main attractions, and it's where you'll find Zion National Park's two main campgrounds. Just outside the gate is the town of Springdale, where you'll find some RV parks.

On the east side of the park, just outside the entrance, is a small RV park, and farther on is a quaint campground at beautiful Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.

8 Best Campgrounds near Zion National Park | PlanetWare (1)

Campers traveling with RVs should be aware that they will need to pay a modest fee and obtain a permit to pass through the tunnel on the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway. The tunnel is not large enough to accommodate RVs passing other traffic, so when a vehicle over a certain size is entering the tunnel, traffic is halted in the opposing direction. Fees need to be paid at the entrance stations.

Also, it is important to note that RVs are not permitted through the tunnel at night or before 8am. Specific transit times are posted on the NPS website.

Plan ahead to get a jump on reservations, and start with our list of the best campgrounds near Zion National Park.

1. South Campground in Zion National Park

8 Best Campgrounds near Zion National Park | PlanetWare (2)

South Campground is undoubtedly the best place to camp in Zion. Large, leafy trees provide some shade from the heat of the day. Campsites are large and spaced a good distance from each other, and the cliff walls in behind remind you that you are in one of the most spectacular landscapes in the Southwest.

(Video) Camping at Zion National Park: 5 Options

Conveniently located near the south entrance, just outside of Springdale, this campground offers the advantage of staying within the park but close enough to town that you can run in and grab anything you may have forgotten. Camping inside the park also means you won't have to deal with the lineup to get into the park in the morning.

This campground is open from March 1 to late November, and reservations are recommended. Reservations are available up to 14 days before your arrival.

The campground does not have hookups, but there is a dump station and potable water. Facilities consist of flush toilets. South Campground has 117 sites, and each site is allowed a maximum of one camper or RV, or two tents, and up to six people. Four group sites, allowing up to 15 people each, are available.

Official site: https://www.nps.gov/zion/index.htm

2. Watchman Campground in Zion National Park

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Not far from South Campground, Watchman Campground is also conveniently located and scenic. Fewer large trees mean there is less shade, and most campsites are in full sun, but this also allows for better views of the surrounding mountains.

This campground is open year-round and does take reservations. Reservations can be made six months in advance, and you should book well in advance if you want to secure a site.

About 95 campsites offer electrical hookups, and 69 sites are for tents only, including 18 walk-in tent sites. In addition, six group sites are able to accommodate between 9 and 40 people.

3. Zion Canyon Campground and RV Resort

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For convenience, it's hard to beat this RV park, located right outside the park's south gate in Springdale and within walking distance of the Zion National Park Visitor Center. The campground has a spacious area for RVs and a section reserved for tents.

(Video) SOUTH CAMPGROUND at ZION - Everything You Need to Know! | ZION NATIONAL PARK (2019)

Large deciduous trees offer some shade, and the views here are fantastic. On-site is a heated pool, coin laundry, and showers. From the front desk, you can get information on river tubing and swimming, as well as other activities in the area.

Sites can be booked online, and note that pets are allowed in the RV section but not allowed in the tent section. The park shuttle stops right outside the front entrance.

4. Zion River Resort RV Park & Campground

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Zion River Resort is a popular RV resort with manicured grounds, lovely shady sites, paved parking pads, fire pits, and lawns. Located in the town of Virgin, between the towns of Hurricane and Springdale, this resort is about 20 minutes from Zion National Park.

With pull-through sites, full hookups, tent sites, pool, Wi-Fi, showers, restrooms, and pet areas, this RV resort has everything you need. If you don't want to drive to Zion, the resort offers shuttles for a small fee.

Official site: https://www.zionriverresort.com/

5. Lava Point Campground

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Lava Point Campground is the smallest and most remote campground in Zion. Located on Kolob Plateau at 7,890 feet, this campground is almost 4,000 feet higher than South Campground. Temperatures are much cooler up here.

Lava Point has six primitive sites set among a mix of aspen and pine trees. To get here, you'll need to drive 80 minutes from the south entrance back through the town of Virgin.

The campground is first-come, first-served, and vehicles over 19 feet in length are not permitted. Picnic tables are provided, but no running water. The road to the campground can be rough; check conditions before venturing out.

(Video) Best Dispersed Camping Near Zion National Park

If the sites are full here, consider continuing onwards to Kolob Reservoir. Unorganized camping here is free along the shoreline.

6. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

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Coral Pink Sand Dunes is a spectacular little state park with a very nice campground. This park is one of the top state parks in Utah, and it's worth a trip in its own right just to explore the dunes. This campground is about a 40-minute drive from the east gate of Zion National Park, but it's worth considering if you are looking for some place to camp on the east side of the park.

Sites are all located along a single loop and set among juniper and pinon pines, providing plenty of privacy. Of the 34 sites, each one offers pull-through parking, a picnic table, and a grill. You can book a site here up to four months in advance. It's also worth noting that the group site here is fantastic, with a modern barbecue, and it can hold between 25 and 50 people.

The park is at an elevation of 6,000 feet, so be prepared for cool evenings even in the middle of summer. It can also be quite windy here, although the campground is relatively protected.

Official site: https://stateparks.utah.gov/parks/coral-pink/

7. Hi-Road Campground

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Just outside the East Gate is the Hi-Road Campground. This is a convenient location if you are interested in getting an early start on the East Rim hike, or if you are arriving late from the east side of the park and want to stop and spend the night before driving through the park.

Otherwise, this is not most campers' first choice, and it's not a place where most visitors linger. Hi-Ground has pull-through sites, full hookups, and tent sites. Facilities are very basic, and prices are high. Across the road from the campground is a trading post with some basic supplies.

8. Dispersed Camping on BLM Lands Close to the Park

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(Video) Exploring Zion National Park | Camping & Hiking

The best bargain around, free dispersed camping on BLM lands, takes a bit of work, but is well worth the reward. The concept is that you find a spot at least half a mile from any roadway, pack out all that you pack in, and bring everything you need. You will find no facilities, no hookups, no water, no toilets. It's as basic as it gets.

Near Zion National Park, the best area for dispersed camping is off the Smithsonian Butte National Back Country Byway. The byway is a mere 6.2 miles from the park entrance. Find a road or trail that leads off this road for the minimum distance and set up camp. Note that to access the byway, you will need to pass over a bridge in Rockville with a low clearance of 13 feet, 4 inches.

Another popular camping destination is called the North Creek Dispersed Area. Just over 15 miles from the park's gate, this is off the Kolob Terrace Road. Another spot just a bit farther out, at 16 miles from the park gates, is Sheep Bridge Road. Here, you'll find 48 marked campsites. Register at one of the kiosks.

Where to Stay if the Campgrounds are Full

The closest town to Zion National Park, and the best place to base yourself, is Springdale, but you will pay for the convenience of being right outside the park gate. Most hotels in Springdale are mid-range or luxury, and prices for both are generally high. For better deals, you may want to consider staying in St. George, just under an hour away, where there are plenty of chain hotels in a variety of price ranges.

Springdale Hotels:

  • For a combination of quality accommodation and a relatively reasonable rate, try La Quinta Inn & Suites at Zion Park or the Quality Inn and Suites Montclair. Both of these are mid-range options, offering easy access to Zion, and come with a complimentary breakfast. The Quality Inn has a seasonal outdoor pool.
  • Cliffrose Lodge & Gardens is a high-end property near the south gate of Zion and a great place if you want to relax and enjoy the surroundings. The five-acre grounds encompass a heated outdoor pool and hot tubs, including a waterfall hot tub, as well as a riverside beach. Accommodation ranges from standard luxury rooms to multi-bedroom villas with full kitchens.

St. George Hotels:

  • For the best value around Zion National Park, it's best to look for accommodation in St. George. At the top of the list for value are the Aiden by Best Western and Clarion Suites St. George. Both of these provide complimentary breakfast and feature outdoor pools. The Clarion also offers rooms with fridges and microwaves.
  • Alternatively, for about the same price as a mid-range hotel in Springdale, you can treat yourself to luxury accommodation in St. George at The Inn at Entrada.

Best Areas for Camping & Hiking in Utah

8 Best Campgrounds near Zion National Park | PlanetWare (10)Camping: Zion National Park is often the gateway for travelers touring Utah if they are entering from the South. Heading north from Zion, you'll also find great camping around Bryce National Park and Capitol Reef National Park. If you are traveling further north, be sure to check out our article on the Best Campgrounds around Moab, including Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

8 Best Campgrounds near Zion National Park | PlanetWare (11)Hiking: For a complete guide to the best trails in the area, see our articles on the Best Hikes in Zion National Park, as well as our guide to the Best Hikes near St. George, just an hour away from Zion National Park. If you have time to visit other parks in Utah, have a look at our list of Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park, and Best Hikes and Walks in Arches National Park.

8 Best Campgrounds near Zion National Park | PlanetWare (12)Exploring Utah: You can find more ideas for helping you plan your outdoor adventures through the state in our articles on the best parks in Utah, top attractions in Utah, and things to do in Moab. If you are traveling in winter, be sure to check out Utah's ski resorts.

(Video) Zion National Park - South Campground


Which Zion campground is the best? ›

The two most popular are Watchman Campground and South Campground, both located in Zion Canyon near the main visitor center. Lava Point Campground is a small first-come, first-served campground near Lava Point off Kolob Terrace Road.

Where should I stay if I want to visit Zion National Park? ›

Springdale is the best town to stay near Zion National Park. It's conveniently located just at the park entrance, Zion shuttle bus stops here, and there are many restaurants, hotels, and accommodations for all budgets. Furthermore, most Springdale hotels have swimming pools which is really a must in summer.

What is the best month to go to Zion National Park? ›

The best months to visit Zion National Park are March, April, October, or November. The weather is more mild, but all park facilities are open and crowds are fewer.

Is it better to stay inside or outside Zion National Park? ›

There are only a few main roads that travel to the most popular hikes and viewpoints. I recommend staying inside of the park if you want to be within minutes of the most popular hikes and viewpoints — you'll be able to catch the free Zion Canyon Shuttle directly from here.

How many days in Zion is enough? ›

We suggest you plan at least 5-7 days for your trip to Zion National Park. If you're an avid hiker, take your time visiting popular (and strenuous) day hikes such as Angels Landing, Zion Narrows Day Hike, and Observation Point Trail. To avoid hunger and dehydration, pack plenty of water and snacks before you set out.

How many nights do you need in Zion National Park? ›

Ideally, you need at least two to three days to visit Zion National Park. This gives you enough time to hike the longer, more popular trails, such as Angels Landing and the Narrows, and you can also add in a few of the shorter, easier trails, such as the Riverside Walk and Canyon Overlook.

Which park is better Bryce or Zion? ›

Both of these Parks offer great outdoor activities for all ages. For canyoneering and rappelling, Zion beats Bryce. You'll find world-class hiking in either Park, but in Zion you can find yourself hiking through streams or on sandstone ledges, like Angels Landing – one of the scariest hikes in the world!

Is it hard to get a campsite in Zion? ›

Zion First-come, first-serve Campsites

First-come, first-serve are available at Lava Point. It is Lava Point is a 1 hour and 20 minute drive from Virgin. While remote this campground does fill on a regular basis and it can be difficult to get a campsite in this campground.

Can you camp in Zion without a reservation? ›

Camping is permitted in designated campsites, but not in pullouts or parking lots. From mid-March through late November the campgrounds are full almost every night. Reservations at Watchman Campground (Call 877-444-6777 or visit www.recreation.gov) are recommended if you would like to guarantee a camping spot.

How much is a campsite at Zion? ›

There are 117 total sites (114 regular, 3 wheelchair) and each site has a fire ring and a picnic table. Individual campsites are $20 per night and group sites are $50. There are toilets, potable water sources, waste dumps for RVs and access to the waters of the Virgin River.

Which campground is better at Bryce? ›

For the full Bryce Canyon experience, the best place to base yourself is in the park and preferably at the North Campground. From here, you have easy access to the Rim Trail and Sunrise Point, one of the most scenic areas of the park.

Can you do Zion and Bryce in 2 days? ›

Two of the most popular National Parks – Zion and Bryce Canyon – can be easily visited together, even if you only have a day or two-three. The drive from Zion to Bryce Canyon is just about 2 hours, so this is one of the best Utah road trips, allowing you to see some of the best scenery and viewpoints in the state.

How many days do you need in Zion and Bryce? ›

The ideal number of days for each park is at least 3 full days in Zion and 1.5-2 full days in Bryce Canyon.

What are the busiest days for Zion National Park? ›

According to park officials, the park's busiest time is Memorial Day weekend, Easter week, Labor Day weekend and Utah Education Association break (which is in October, and you can find the dates each year at myuea.org). An outside view of the Zion Park Motel. Aerial view of the road leading into Zion National Park.

What is the rainy season in Zion National Park? ›

Monsoon season in Zion National Park usually arrives at the end of summer, between late July and mid September. Despite safety precautions, monsoon season is a terrific time to visit Zion.

Are there a lot of mosquitos in Zion? ›

The risk for mosquito activity is extremely high. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when spending time outdoors to prevent bites. The risk for mosquito activity is high.

Can you enjoy Zion without hiking? ›

Conclusion. Two Zion activities that we'll include as honorable mentions are the Kolob Canyons scenic drive which is about 40 miles north of the main canyon as well as Zion National Park helicopter tours. Both Zion activities are amazing and don't require any hiking at all!

What is the least busy day at Zion National Park? ›

The best time to visit Zion is during the week right before and after Thanksgiving! The holiday season and cool weather cuts down on the crowds. The hikes are nearly all to yourself and free from the sweltering summer heat. This time of year the shuttle bus at the park stops and you can drive anywhere in the park.

What is the best time of year to go to Zion? ›

Fall is the best time to visit Zion if you're a serious hiker, because spring runoff can make canyon hiking difficult or dangerous and summer temperatures can reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. To simply take in the grandeur of Zion National Park, there is no bad time of year.

How far apart are Bryce and Zion National Parks? ›

Bryce Canyon is located in Bryce, Utah, which is about 1 hour 45 minutes northeast of Zion National Park. It is not close to any major cities in Utah, so you'll want to make sure you're stocked up on supplies beforehand (Ruby's Inn General Store does have some groceries!).

Can I do Zion and Bryce in one day? ›

Normally, people visit Bryce and Zion National Parks together since they are only 62 miles apart. Although it is recommended to spend a day in Bryce and at least one day in Zion, you can visit Bryce and Zion in one day, hiking one trail in each of the parks.

Do you need a walking stick in Zion? ›

Every hiker in The Narrows should have closed toed shoes, even just your regular hiking boots, and a walking stick.

How should I dress for Zion? ›

  1. Track pants, capris, zip-off pants, yoga pants, or hiking pants, shorts, flexible, comfortable, stretchy pants.
  2. Long underwear. ...
  3. Light rain/wind jacket.
  4. Fleece jacket for the cool mornings and chilly overlooks and shaded trails.
  5. Warm/knit hat/beanie.
  6. Warm gloves.
  7. Puffy Jacket.

Do I need a timed ticket for Zion? ›

No tickets, permits, or reservations needed to ride the park shuttle or enter Zion National Park. You do not need a permit or reservation to visit most areas in Zion Canyon.

Is the drive from Zion to Bryce pretty? ›

Utah Scenic Byway 12. The Scenic Byway 12 connecting Zion to Bryce Canyon is filled with beautiful scenery like only the American Southwest can provide. Scenic Byway 12 is perhaps the most renowned road in all of Utah for its spectacular roadside views and vistas.

Which is more crowded Zion or Bryce? ›

Bryce Canyon National Park for fewer crowds, Zion National Park for more wildlife.

When should you not go to Zion National Park? ›

The Worst Time to Visit Zion National Park

If you want to avoid the crowds, skip a trip in June or July, which both see over 500,000 monthly visitors. On the other end of the spectrum, you'll find solitude during the winter months but might also experience below-freezing nights, snow, and limited park access.

What do I need to know before camping in Zion? ›

Every campsite in Zion National Park has space for two vehicles (only one RV or trailer is allowed) and up to six people and two tents. Pets are permitted, but must be leashed. And due to wildlife, food must be stored in the car or a hard-sized lockable container.

Is South Campground better than Watchman Campground? ›

With generally larger sites and more space between the sites than the tent loops of Watchman Campground, South Campground would be better for most tent campers and families with children.

Are there bears in Zion National Park? ›

Seeing an American Black Bear in Zion National Park is rare but not unheard of. Since bear sightings are so rare each one, even a possible siting, should be reported to park officials. It is important to know the procedure for bear encounters on the off chance that you may see one.

Can I sleep in my car in Zion National Park? ›

Again, it is illegal. So please do not do it. As others have said, you need to be in a camp site inside of a campground at Zion National Park.

Is there cell service at Zion National Park campground? ›

At Watchman Campground there is cellular service, so you can choose to take a break whenever you want to. “This campground is close to amenities and allows for full cellular connectivity, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your camping preference.” — The Dyrt camper Zach M.

Is it worth it to stay inside Zion National Park? ›

We recommend a 3-4 night stay at Zion National Park. This allows visitors time to take in all of the sights of Zion and enough time to enjoy the main hikes (Angels Landing, the Narrows via Riverside Walk and the Emerald Pools hikes) .

Can you do Zion in 2 days? ›

We think 2 days in Zion National Park is a perfect baseline. With 2 days, you'll be able to fit in one of the longer hikes in Zion (like Angels Landing), the scenic drive between the East Entrance and Zion – Mt. Carmel tunnel, and some of the shorter hikes in the canyon.

Should I camp in Zion National Park? ›

Camping in Zion National Park allows you great proximity to some of the park's best attractions. There are only a few campgrounds in Zion, but you'll find plenty of lodges and campgrounds nearby. Zion's campgrounds are full almost every night, so it's important to plan ahead.

How far is Bryce Canyon from Zion National Forest? ›

The fastest way to reach Bryce Canyon is from the east entrance of Zion National Park on US-89. The drive is approximately 74 miles long and will take you roughly 1 hour and 30 minutes to drive.

Are there grizzly bears in Bryce Canyon? ›

Black bears can be found in Utah. There are no Grizzly Bears in Utah. The last known grizzly bear was killed in 1927.

What is the best month to go to Bryce Canyon? ›

The best time to visit Bryce National Park is May through September. Not only does this period offer the warmest weather of the year, it also yields plenty of ranger activities. October through April offers its own charms, too.

How far apart are Arches and Bryce? ›

The direct drive from Arches National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park is 285 mi (459 km), and should have a drive time of 5 hrs 1 min in normal traffic.

Is Antelope Canyon in Zion National Park? ›

Arizona has three National Parks. They include the Grand Canyon National Park, The Petrified Forest National Park, and the Saguaro National Park. Since Antelope Canyon is in Northern Arizona, it is also close to Zion National Park which is inside the Utah border.

Is Bryce Canyon a difficult hike? ›

Hiking in Bryce Canyon in Utah has two different difficulties. If you're heading down into the amphitheater plan on moderate hikes. The hike down is very easy, but the hike out is more difficult due to the elevation gain. We went down into the amphitheater twice and while the hike out is challenging, it is doable.

Can you do Bryce Canyon and the arches in one day? ›

The drive from Bryce Canyon to Arches NP on scenic byways 12 and 24 takes about five hours, not including stops. The total distance is 265 miles (236 km). There is a shorter option if you're pressed for time.

Do you need to use the shuttle in Zion? ›

All visitors are required to use the shuttle to travel around the park, including along the six-mile Zion Canyon Scenic drive. Bikes are also available for rent during check-in, which are allowed on park roads during the spring, summer, and fall.

Is the Watchman Trail worth it? ›

The Watchman Trail is a relatively easy hike that offers nice views over Springdale and the southern end of Zion National Park. Since this trail starts at the visitor center, no shuttle is necessary, making this a great option if you want to go hiking in Zion without waiting in line for the shuttle.

How much does it cost to camp at Watchman Campground? ›

The sites can accommodate from 9 to 40 campers. The group campsites are tent only. RVs, camping trailers, and pop-up campers are not permitted. Cost $50.00 per night for 7-12 people, $90.00 per night for 16-25 people and $130.00 per night for 26-40 people.

Which is better observation point or Angels Landing? ›

Takeaway | Angel's Landing Vs Observation Point

If you are an adrenaline junky, want a shorter hike, and not afraid of heights I would suggest Angel's Landing. If you want to say you've made it to the rim, want a longer hike and want some great exercise I would suggest Observation Point.

What is the most popular type of campground? ›

Frontcountry camping: Frontcountry camping is perhaps the most popular type of camping. This is when campers rent a spot on a family campground and pitch a tent or stay in a cabin. Campsites may have many amenities to offer campers, including restrooms, fire pits, potable water, and even Wi-Fi.

What is the nicest campground in the United States? ›

Here are the top nine best campgrounds in the United States.
  • Sandy Pines Campground - Kennebunkport, Maine. ...
  • Trail's End Campground - Superior National Forest, Minnesota. ...
  • Emerald Beach RV Park - Navarre, Florida. ...
  • Silver Falls State Park - Salem, Oregon. ...
  • North Rim Campground - Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.
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