Everything You Need to Know About Camping in Zion National Park

Where to camp and what you'll need to know before you go.

Scenic View Of Rocky Mountains Against Sky in Zion National Park
Photo: Harold Stiver/Getty Images

There's a reason why Zion National Park was protected back in 1919 — the expanse of land in southwest Utah is both beautiful and historic. The massive red, orange, and pink sandstone cliffs shoot vertically out of the ground, forming scenic canyons once walked by native people. Today, those same paths remain, giving park visitors a glimpse into what the landscape might've looked like long ago.

Perhaps most impressive are the park's slot canyons — narrow pathways surrounded by sheer rock walls — and the surprisingly lush Emerald Pools, which are fed by waterfalls. In short, it's not the sort of place you can experience in a single day, and it would be a shame to leave the park's beauty for a hotel room. If you're up for sleeping under the stars — and let me tell you, there will be stars — here's everything you need to know about camping in Zion National Park.

Best Campgrounds in Zion National Park

Milky way rising over camping tents in Zion national Park in Utah USA
Adrien MERAT/Getty Images

There are three campgrounds in Zion National Park — two near the south entrance by Zion Canyon and one in the northwest corner of the park near the Kolob Canyons.

At the more popular, southern entrance you'll find Watchman Campground, which is located right next to the Zion Canyon Visitor Center and has 176 RV and tent sites. There are flush toilets, potable water, fire rings, and picnic tables, but no showers or electrical outlets. RVers will have access to dump stations and electrical hookups. Watchman Campground is open year-round, with reduced availability in winter.

Zion National Park in Utah morning with tent on camp site at Watchman Campground with picnic table and pergola cover
krblokhin/Getty Images

Just down the road is South Campground, which has 117 tent and dry RV sites. Like Watchman, there are toilets, water, picnic tables, and fire rings, but no showers or outlets. There is a dump station for RVs, but no electrical hookups. Typically, South Campground is open March through October, closing for the winter season.

A deer feeds in the closed but usually full South Campground in Zion National Park
George Frey/Getty Images

On the northwestern side of the park is the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center and Lava Point Campground (about a one-hour drive from Zion Canyon Visitor Center). The Lava Point Campground has six primitive tent campsites, with pit toilets and trash cans, but no water. There's also no RV camping here. Because this campground is at a higher elevation (7,890 feet), the temperature is often cooler and weather more variable. Lava Point is open May through September, depending on the weather.

Things to Know About Camping in Zion National Park

Most visitors to Zion National Park head to the south entrance, and the Watchman and South campgrounds, for easy access to the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Off this popular canyon road (which is only accessible to shuttle buses in the high season) is where you can access sites like the Grotto, Angels Landing, the Narrows, and the Emerald Pools. Keep in mind that camping in this part of the park is hot and dry with very little shade.

Zion Park Roads Crossing and campground Sign. Zion National Park, Utah, United States.
welcomia/Getty Images

The northwestern entrance and tiny Lava Point Campground tend to be quieter and cooler, but more remote. During the spring and fall, poor road conditions can limit access to the campground.

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. During the high season (March through mid-November), the camping limit is 14 nights.

RV Trailer with awning extended in Watchman Campground, Zion National Park, with mountains and blue sky background
Warren_Price/Getty Images

How to Reserve a Campsite in Zion National Park

Reservations are strongly recommended for all three campgrounds, as they tend to fill up nightly. At the largest and most amenity-studded of the bunch, Watchman Campground, you can make reservations six months in advance. Campsites are $20 a night, while a site with an electrical hookup is $30 a night.

At South Campground, all sites are $20 a night, and reservations can be made two weeks prior to the date of your arrival. At Lava Point Campground, reservations are available on a rolling two-week window and must be made and paid for online ($20 a night).

Tent on field against clear sky during sunset in Utah, Zion National Park
Kevin Kozicki/Cavan Images/Getty Images

Group campsites are available at both Watchman and South for $50 a night.

Reservations for all three campgrounds can be made at recreation.gov. For reservations at Watchman and South campgrounds, you can also call 877-444-6777.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles