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Zion National Park Camping Guide: Everything You Need to Know about Camping in Zion (2021 Update)

Are you headed to Zion to explore the wonders of the Virgin River, hike the Narrows, or enjoy the view at Angels Landing? Zion National Park has over 90 miles of hiking trails to explore.  Camping in Zion National Park maximizes your time in the park.  You can sleep under the stars and enjoy the high cliffs.

Sleeping in a tent is a must to do experience Zion National Park.

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Zion Campgrounds at a Glance

CampgroundRegionReservationsSeason Sites Fees ADA SitesAmenities
Lava PointKolob TerraceNoJune – October6FreeNoFP, G
SouthZion – Mount Carmel HwyYesMid May – Late September117$20YesD, F, FP, G, S, W
WatchmanZion – Mount Carmel HwyYesYear-round176$20 / $30YesF, FP, G, H, S, W

Amenities Key

  • D – Dump Station
  • F – Flush Toilets
  • FP – Fire Pit
  • G – Generator
  • H – Full Hookups
  • P – Pit Toliet
  • PA – Accessible Pit Toliet
  • L – Laundry
  • S – Shower
  • W – Water

Getting to Zion National Park

The closest airport to Zion is the McCarran International Airport (LAS). McCarran Airport is located about 2.75 hours from Zion. The closest major airport is Salt Lake City International which is about 4.5 hours from the park.

While there is no public transportation to Zion National Park, access to the Zion Canyon is limited to shuttle buses.

Estimated Drive time to Zion National Park

  • Las Vegas, Nevada – 2.75 hours
  • Flagstaff, Arizona – 4 hours
  • Salt Lake City, Utah – 4.5 hours
  • Phoenix, Arizona – 6 hours

Zion is a centrally located park.  It is within driving distance of Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, and Phonxiz.  All three cities have an international airport and the concentration of national parks in the surrounding area makes it easy to visit multiple parks in one road trip.

Things to Know about Zion Camping

  • There is a 14-day camping limit from March to mid-November.  This limit is in effect park-wide.
  • Watchman Campground is the only campground open year-round.
  • Zion National Park is extremely hot during the summer, the majority of campsites have no shade or partial shade.  Be prepared for this.  Riverside spots a few and far between.
  • Make a reservation if at all possible. Sites fill up fast and any remaining first come first serve spots will be claimed by 8:00 am during the height of summer.
    • Zion National Park first come first serve camping is offered at Lava Point and South Campground.  Several campgrounds outside the park offer first come first serve camping.
  • Each tent campsite can have up to 6 people. There is space for two tents and two vehicles at the campsite. The campsite has a picnic table. Many of the campsites have a fire pit. Please double-check the fire regulations and ensure your fire is completely out before going to bed.
  • Please do NOT leave any food, utensils out, or any scented items out. This includes toothpaste, toothbrush, chapstick. Pretty much put everything but what you are going to sleep into your car.  This includes your cooler. Wildlife have been known to raid campsites and human food is dangerous.
  • If using a hammock in the campground, please only use trees larger than 10 inches in diameter.  Please pad your straps as to not damage the tree.  Only 2 hammocks per tree and the hammock must be inside the campsite footprint.

Zion Tent Caterpillar

If camping during April and May be prepared for the invasion of native southwestern tent caterpillars (Malacosoma incurvum). The Tent Caterpillars live and feed on the Fremont cottonwoods in many of the zion campgrounds.

During peak years (every 8-10 years), the caterpillars will cover every surface they can.  I would check with NPS and avoid the campground if in a peak year (or a non-peak year if afraid of bugs).

Photo Credit – NPS Photo/Marc Neidig

What to pack for camping in Glacier National Park?

  1. Printed Campsite Reservation: Just in case anyone asks for it.
  1. America the Beautiful National Parks Pass: Zion National Park costs $30 for a 7-day pass.  If you intend to visit more than 3 National Park Services sites in a year, the America the Beautiful Pass will more than pay for itself.
  1. National Park Passport: The National Park Passport Book is the cheapest and best souvenir of your national park adventures. This book makes it easy to collect the National Park Cancellation Stamps. The cancellation stamps have the date of your visit and make it easy to track when you visited each national park service unit.
  1. Tent: This is one of the heaviest and most important pieces of camping gear. It is your shelter from the elements at night.
  1. Sleeping Pad: A sleeping pad is a small, packable inflatable mattress. Here is my favorite closed cell sleeping pad.
  1. Sleeping Bag: Your sleeping bag is important for a good night’s sleep and preventing you from getting to cold.
  1. Pillow: An inflatable pillow is a lightweight comfort item that can make getting a good night’s sleep much easier.
  1. Camp Stove: This portable mini backpacking stove makes car camping cooking much easier. I’d rather cook on this over a campfire any day.
  1. Fuel for the camp stove: I generally by my camping fuel at Walmart or REI on my way to the park. You can’t fly with it so it’s just easier to get on site.
  1. Cooler: One great thing about car camping is that you can keep a cooler in your car and it can keep fresh meat cold and provide cold drinks.
  1. Kitchen Set: It doesn’t take much to make an impressive camp meal but having the right tools can make you seem like a gourmet chef.
  1. Cooking Pot: Since I use a camping stove, I have this great set of folding pots that I do most of my camp cooking with.
  1. Spork: The Spork is the essential eating utensil of the campsite.
  1. Food: If I bring a cooler, I love planning easy to cook camp meals with fresh ingredients otherwise, I use a mix of dry backpacking foods.
  1. Snacks – There are limited services in the park.  So pick up all your snacks before you go.  Pack a couple of different options so you are prepared for any craving.
    • Fruit:  Pick hard fruits such as apples or pears.  These hold-up in the heat and in packs without getting squished to mush. Another option is freeze-dried fruit. Freeze-dried strawberries are the BOMB.  They are crunchy, sweet and the best part is they are lightweight and yummy.  These are my new favorite trail snack.
    • Vegetables: Cucumbers and carrots hold up well during hiking and in a hot car.
    • Granola Bars:  Take your favorite non-coated in chocolate granola bars.  Anything coated in chocolate will melt and be a sticky mess.  My favorite is a selection of Cliff Bars. They are great even when squished.
  1. Refillable Water Bottles – Do your part to reduce litter in our parks by bringing a refillable water bottle with you. A reusable and refillable water bottle can save you a lot of money and really help the environment. Here are my favorite water bottles
  1. Hydration Bladder – If you are hiking longer distances, a hydration bladder is the best way to hike with significant quantities of water. It is a rare hike when I don’t bring a full bladder with me.
  1. Sunscreen – You don’t want to get burned on your visit.
  1. Lip balm – Your lips need just as much sun protection as your skin does.
  1. Sunglasses – Similar to sunscreen, you need a good pair of polarized sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare of the sun.
  1. Hat – Hats are another sun protection device. A hat can keep the sun off your face and neck and help minimize the need for sunscreen while on the trail.
  1. First aid kit – As with any outdoor adventure, accidents happen. It is better to be prepared and have a compact first-aid kit ready to help with any accidents.
  1. Headlamp – Always keep a headlamp handy. You never know when you might want it. It can be used for midnight bathroom runs to sunrise/sunset hikes. A good headlamp makes it easy to operate in the dark.
  1. Shoes – Shoes are probably the most important piece of gear to any hiker. Hiking shoes should be seen as an investment. On the trail, your feet are your transportation and a solid pair of hiking shoes help support your feet and can prevent injury.
  1. Hiking Day Pack – A good day pack is the best way to transport all your gear when hiking. I highly recommend getting a backpack that is designed for outdoor use. These packs come with handy pockets and straps. My 40 L day pack has a pocket for my water bladder and a clip to hold the water line in place.
  1. National Park Obsessed Shirt – Share your love of the National Parks and support National Park Obsessed with a National Park Obsessed T-Shirt.

If you are new to visiting the National Parks, check out our National Park Essentials Guide to get you started.

National Parks are on my Bucket List T-Shirts
$29.00
Glacier National Park Print Poster
$26.00
Jemaine, the Traveling Goat Book
$19.99

Where to camp in Zion National Park?

Zion Campground Map

Campgrounds in Zion National Park

  • Lava Point Campground
  • South Campground
  • Watchman Campground

Campgrounds near Zion National Park

  • Zion Canyon Campground and RV Resort
  • Zion River Resort RV Park and Campground
  • Hi-Road Campground
  • The Riverside Ranch
  • Willowwind RV Resort
  • Temple View RV Resort
  • BLM Old Highway 89
  • BLM Twin Hallows Canyon
  • BLM Smithsonian Butte
Camping in Zion National Park - View of the Zion Canyon Walls

Getting a Zion Campsite

Zion Camping Reservations

Two of Zion National Park’s campgrounds offer reservations.

Campground reservations can be made online at Receation.gov.

  • South Campground reservations can be made up to two weeks in advance.
  • Watchman Campground reservations can be made up to six months in advance.

Reservations open at 10 a.m (EST). It is highly recommened that you make your reservation as soon the reservation window opens.

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.

RV Camping in Zion National Park

There are no full RV hookups in Zion National Park, but there are electric sites in Watchman Campground.

The longer your RV is the more limited your camping option. Not every campsite in a campground can accommodate the maximum length trailer.

The following Glacier campgrounds can accommodate RVs or travel trailers:

  • Lava Point Campground – Up to 19 ft in length
  • South Campground – Up to 45 ft in length, RV’s are limited to 12.5 ft in height
  • Watchman Campground – No length restrictions

Zion National Park Campgrounds

** All Campground prices are valid as of 20 November 2019.

Lava Point Campground

Lava Point Campground is located about 1 hour and a half north of Zion Canyon along Kolob Terrace Road.  This campground is a primitive campground that is reached by a narrow road with steep grades.  It is not recommended for large RVs and trailers.  During the late spring or early fall check the road conditions before driving out to this campground.

Sites: 6 sites

Cost: Free

Reservations Accepted?: No, this campground is first-come, first-served.

ADA specific sites: No

RVs?: Yes, sites can accommodate RV’s and trailer combinations are limited to 19 ft.

Pets: Yes, but please review the Zion National Park Pet Policy

Facilities: Fire pit, food locker, pit toilets, picnic table

Season: Lava Point Campground is open from June – October

Typical Fill Time: Reservation Only

Closest General Store: Virgin

South Campground

South Campground is located 0.5 miles from the South Entrance. This campground is located near the visitor center and shuttle pickup area.  The campground is located next to the Virgin River.  There are a handful of sites that are walk-in sites that have riverfront views.

**ADA park visitors should note that none of the bathrooms in South Campground are ADA compliant.  You will have to travel 0.3 miles to the Watchman Campground for an accessible restroom.

SeasonMid May – End of September
Number of Sites117 sites (110 tent sites, 4 group sites, and 3 accessible sites)
Fee per night$20 per site and $50 for the group sites
Reservations AvailableNo, first-come-first-serve
Max RV Length45 ft – RVs are limited to 12.5 ft in height
RV Hook-upNo
RestroomsFlush Toilets
WaterHot Water
ShowersNo(additional charge)
Max Length of Stay14 Days
Wheelchair AccessibilityYes
Wifi on PropertyLimited availability
Laundry Facilities No
Pets AllowedYes, but please review the Zion Pet Policy
Typical Fill TimeReservations are a must. They are available two weeks ahead of time.  
Closest General Store Springdale

Watchman Campground

Watchman Campground is located 0.25 miles from the South Entrance.  The campground is nestled at the base of the Watchman rock formation.  Watchman is the most developed of the three campground and electric sites are available.

SeasonYear-round
Number of Sites 176 sites (2 wheelchair accessible sites, and 6 group sites)
Fee per night $20 for Loop C, D, and F

$30 for Loop A and B Group sites range from $50 to $130

Reservations AvailableYes
Max RV LengthNone but vehicle height is limited to 13 ft in many sites.
RV Hook-upNo, but electric sites are available.
RestroomsFlush Toilets
WaterHot Water
Showers 
Max Length of Stay14 Days
Wheelchair AccessibilityYes
Wifi on PropertyN0
Laundry FacilitiesNo
Pets AllowedYes, but please review the Zion Pet Policy
Typical Fill TimeUsually fully reserved during June to September
Closest General Store Springdale

Which is campground did you pick for your camping in Zion National Park adventure?

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April

Friday 22nd of February 2019

This post is so helpful as I'm planning to finally get to Zion in April and most likely will be camping. Always knowing which sites you can reserve in advance are super helpful. And, I never would think to be aware of caterpillars covering everything!

Jennifer Melroy

Monday 4th of March 2019

Yea, the caterpillar can be awful at times.

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