Dreaming of camping in Zion National Park? This guide covers the best time to camp, how to get there, what to pack, the best campgrounds and more!
With incredible views, over 90 miles of trails, and camping sites for every taste, Zion is repeatedly listed as one of the best places to camp in Utah.
Camping in Zion National Park: Everything You Need to Know
The Best Time to Camp in Zion National Park
Temperatures in Zion National Park are consistently warm, even through the winter, and many of the sites are open year round as a result. Just note that there are no shower or laundry facilities at the campgrounds within the park, so be sure to plan ahead to account for this.
While Zion National Park is open for camping all year round, the most popular time to visit is from April through October, when shuttle buses are running and all the facilities are open. That said, summer is not only peak season in Zion, it’s also the hottest time of year.
To beat the crowds and summer heat, I recommend camping in Zion in either early spring or late fall – you’ll still see all the sites, but you’ll have a better chance at nabbing a camping spot and be way more comfortable at the same time.
How to Get to Zion National Park
Zion National Park is located in southwest Utah, about 3 hours from Las Vegas and 5 hours from Salt Lake City. While there are shuttles within the park itself, the easiest way to get to the park is by car or RV, so if you’re flying into the area, I highly suggest you rent some wheels at the airport. That said, keep in mind that the entrances to the park get very busy in the summer, so give yourself a little extra time.
To get into the park itself, note that Zion has two main entrances — the south entrance and east entrance — both accessible from Route 9.
Best Spots to Camp in Zion National Park
Whether you’ll be camping in a tent or RV, there is a Zion National Park campground for you.
Lava Point Campground
Lava Point Campground is a first-come, first-serve site that is far away from the crowds. An hour and a half drive from the South Entrance, Lava Point is a primitive campground and is free as a result. You’ll find pit toilets and trash cans here, but no water or other amenities. Definitely stock up on food and water before you set up shop.
To find Lava Point Campground from Virgin, Utah, take Kolob Terrace Road for 25 miles and watch for the signs. Note that RV’s have to be less than 19 feet long to be allowed on this road and that the campground is only open seasonally – from June through October.
If you want to make some friends, have tons of amenities, and be in the center of all the Zion action, then Watchman Campground is the place to be. Not only are there 63 RV sites, 66 tent sites, 6 group campsites, and a visitors center, there is a nearby shuttle stop to get around the park, amazing views of the surrounding mountains, and wheelchair accessible sites. Campsites include amenities such as electrical hookups, flush toilets, fire pits, drinking water, and a dump station.
However, Watchman is probably the most popular campground in Zion so be sure to make your reservations early. The campground is open all year, and if you’re visiting from March through November, you can make reservations up to six months in advance.
Just down the road from Watchman, about a half-mile from the south entrance, South Campground is another popular spot in which to camp in Zion. Each site here is large and comes with fire grates, picnic tables, and drinking water access. You can make reservations for campsites here up to two weeks prior to your arrival date.
South Campground is open from late February through late November, and sites are first-come, first serve. Although there aren’t any hookups or washrooms here, there is a dump station and potable water.
If you’re looking to get away from the crowds and camp on your own, then heading into the Zion National Park backcountry is the way to go. There are a few great trails to camp on, including the West Rim Trail (which has 9 campsites), Orderville Canyon (a Canyoneering hotspot), and Deertrap Mountain.
Best Spots to Camp Near Zion National Park
Zion Canyon Campground and RV Resort
Zion Canyon Campground and RV Resort is located just outside the south entrance to the park and has some great views. The campground is both RV and tent-friendly, is within walking distance of the park’s visitor center, and provides showers, fire rings, barbeques, and a swimming pool. Additionally, the surrounding area has great restaurants and the staff here is very knowledgeable about things to do.
Zion River Resort RV Park and Campground
Located right beside the Virgin River, Zion River Resort is a popular camping spot with well-maintained grounds, parking pads, and fire pits. This site pulls out all the stops, with restrooms, showers, Wi-Fi, pools, tent sites, pull-through sites, and full hookups available.
The campground is located right in the town of Virgin and is just 20 minutes from the park, but also provides a shuttle service into Zion for a fee.
Hi-Road Campground is located just outside the east entrance and is great if you want to hike the East Rim Trail. The site has pull-through sites, full hookups, and tent spots, but this is a place where you’ll probably be more comfortable just passing through for a night, instead of spending all your time here.
Facilities at this campground are basic, although there is a small store across the road with some supplies.
Read more: Zion National Park Travel & Hiking Guide
Zion National Park Camping Tips
As always, it’s best to avoid wildlife whenever possible, yet there are still some critters you should be on the lookout for. Zion National Park is home to both scorpions and rattlesnakes, both of which like to rest in shady places such as the crevices of rocks. To avoid both, be sure to always watch where you step — step on top of rocks and fallen logs, not over them– and make sure to shake out your boots before you put them on (scorpions love to hide in shoes!)
Not every campground in Zion National Park has potable or drinkable water. Before you book, make sure you know what the water situation at your campsite is like, and plan accordingly. There’s nothing worse than running out of water in a place as hot as Zion!
Zion has plenty of well-worn trails, but there are also some that are faint or somewhat confusing in nature. Before you head out, grab a map at the visitor’s center, and keep an eye on trail markers.
Read more: The Best Cameras for Hiking and Backpacking
Zion National Park Packing Essentials
Footwear: For both hiking around the park and hanging out at your campsite, you’re going to want to bring comfortable shoes that you can walk around in. I recommend bringing a pair of hiking shoes, a pair of sandals (Teva’s are great), and a pair of cheap flip-flops for walking around your site.
Also, if you plan on heading into any canyons with water around, I’d recommend bringing along a pair of water shoes.