Zion National Park is one of Utah’s many stunning natural wonders, and is one of the most popular and visited national parks in the southwestern U.S., aside from the Grand Canyon. Zion is known for its towering slot canyons, fantastic views, sandstone arches and open country hikes in the arid and mystical landscape of southern Utah.
Car camping in Zion is typically a breeze, with most developed campgrounds located very close to the park. Zion National Park camping does come with crowds from Spring through Fall though, so be prepared to book ahead if you plan to visit during the busy season.
While camping in Zion, you don’t need to bring special gear, but make sure to check the weather for the time of your visit and pack your clothes and gear accordingly. Also be sure to bring a lot of water. This is dry canyon country and although there are streams or lakes, they can be few and far between. You can bring your own water or fill up at the park store.
Zion National park camping is best during the off-season. Summer is hot here but the crowds fewer. It’s more difficult to hike in summer but the Virgin River runs through Zion and cools off many of the canyon hikes.
To reserve a spot for camping, use the Zion National Park website and begin planning six months in advance. Zion has three campgrounds and two are located in the southern part of the park. Because of the rough country here, the park only has a few entrances, so plan ahead for which entrances you’ll use, and where you’ll camp.
South Campground and Watchman campground are great camping options, but they are dry and offer limited shade. Summer temps can easily exceed 95 degrees, so be prepared for the heat. Tent campers can bring two tents and up to six people, otherwise, they should use a group site. These two campgrounds provide potable water, picnic tables, grills and fire pits, and allow pets. Both are the some of the best options for affordable, reservable campsites.
Lava Point campground is in a higher elevation area, open from May through September. Here you’ll find six primitive sites and plenty of trees. Be prepared to do a lot of driving to get to this site, as it takes nearly an hour and a half to reach Lava Point from the south entrance of Zion. The road to this campground does not allow vehicles over 19 feet, so it is not RV-friendly.
Make sure to study a map Zion’s boundaries and the time it will take to get to the different wilderness areas. Zion National Park has essentially one main road from beginning to end, with a narrow tunnel, so driving around the park can take quite a bit of time.
Zion National park camping is much improved by picking an area, setting up camp, and exploring the region in your vicinity. You can’t see the whole park in one trip, anyway, so it’s best to see what you’re most excited for and see new areas on your next visit.