The Best Camping Near Zion National Park, Utah

The Best Camping Near Zion National Park, Utah

Home to Angel’s Landing and The Narrows, Zion National Park overflows with unique viewpoints and rock patterns that look too beautiful to be real. Campgrounds near Zion National Park draw hikers, rock climbers, and geology enthusiasts in droves each year.

Zion National Park, Utah
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About Camping Near Zion National Park

Winding canyons, colorful crags, and shimmering water features make up your backdrop for camping near Zion National Park. Whether you’re craving a river adventure or a new canyoneering challenge, campgrounds near Zion National Park bring you up close to the endless outdoor offerings of one of the most stunning and iconic national parks. Gaze out over the landscape at sunset, squeeze between slender canyons, or go for a scenic drive in this gorgeous desert wonderland.

Top Campgrounds Near Zion National Park, Utah

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Zion National Park Camping FAQs

Winding canyons, colorful crags, and shimmering water features make your backdrop for camping near Zion National Park. Whether you’re craving a river adventure or a new canyoneering challenge, campgrounds near Zion National Park bring you up close to the endless outdoor offerings of one of the most stunning and iconic national parks. Gaze out over the landscape at sunset, squeeze between slender canyons, or go for a scenic drive in this gorgeous desert wonderland.

There aren’t many national parks more popular than Zion. In fact, there are (currently) only two more popular: Grand Canyon National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Zion is the crown jewel of Utah’s Mighty Five, the five national parks in the Beehive State. Yeah, that is genuinely the nickname for Utah. Anyway, this park sees more than 5 million visits annually, so prepare to make some friends when you visit.

What Is Zion National Park Known for?

Besides the absolutely otherworldly rock formations? Well, Zion has some of the most beautiful desert views in the United States, a big reason why it has more than 5 million visits each year.

It’s also an outdoor bucket list spot for any serious adventurer, holding some of the best hiking and climbing in the country. Zion is defined by two of its most popular hikes: Angels Landing and The Narrows. Many of those 5 million visits include at least one, if not both, of these hikes.

Top Sights to See in Zion National Park

The Narrows

Though substantially less popular than Angels Landing, The Narrows is the hike that all visitors should experience. This is a relatively easy hike, though it can be extended into a more strenuous hike if visitors prefer.

Many visitors are unaware of this, but the whole Narrows hike is actually 16 miles! Most visitors see the first mile or two at most and turn around. If you just want to see the major highlights, all of those are available within the first two miles. If you want to lose some of the crowds, the herd thins substantially after mile two.

Zion-Mount Carmel Highway

While not all of this is in Zion, 10 out of the 25 miles are. This drive is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a must-see for a short scenic drive. The section in the park connects the south and east entrances of the park, taking you through many of the park’s popular spots. If you’re driving east when you’re done visiting, consider making this your last stop.

Zion Human History Museum

There’s no better place to learn about Zion’s history (and that of the surrounding area) than at the Zion Human History Museum. With lots of fascinating artifacts and information, the history of this region is alive and on display for visitors wanting to learn about the original peoples, rock formations, and how Zion has been formed over the centuries.

Honorable Mention: Angels Landing

I’m mentioning this with one very specific caveat: this hike should only be attempted by seasoned hikers. That’s not my opinion; the park recommends this hike be approached with caution as it’s easily the most dangerous hike in the park. Is it dangerous to seasoned hikers who approach the hike with proper preparedness? Very unlikely. Is it dangerous to the inexperienced hikers who overestimate their fitness? It sure can be.

Don’t get me wrong, Angels Landing offers some of the best views in the park, but it’s also notorious for being filled with people who aren’t prepared for the hike. Whatever you do, just be cautious.

Best Time to Visit Zion National Park

Zion follows a pretty traditional season, with summer being the most popular time to visit. In general, May to September is the time to be here. One thing to note for peak season travelers is that mid-July to mid-September is monsoon season, which results in the peak likelihood of a flash flood. Can you hike safely during that time? Absolutely. Just keep an eye on the weather, have a backup plan, and be prepared to call off your hike if the weather looks bad.

For those who want to skip crowds (or monsoon season), March and April, alongside October and November, are pretty good times to visit as well. March and November, obviously, will be colder than April and October, but you’ll have even fewer crowds if that’s your main concern. Of all those months, October is the most comfortable, with highs in the mid-60s and lows around 40, on average.

You can definitely visit Zion in the winter, but don’t forget that deserts get quite cold overnight. Winter highs hover around a reasonably comfortable 50 degrees. However, the overnight lows dip into the mid-20s, so RVers are going to be more amenable to those conditions than tent campers, generally.

Tips for Camping Near Zion National Park

Good Luck Getting a Campground

Genuinely, it takes a little bit of luck to get a campground in Zion National Park. In fairness, it’s because they’re beautiful and provide the best access to everything you could want to see in the park. Unfortunately, there are only three total campgrounds. At the time of writing this, though, the South Campground has been closed indefinitely for a rehabilitation project, so the foreseeable future only has two campgrounds. Cross your fingers and reserve far in advance, or choose a campground near the park.

All of Utah is BLM Land

Admittedly, this is a bit of an exaggeration. It’s not wildly inaccurate, though. Just a bit under half of Utah is run by the Bureau of Land Management. Just a bit over 20% of Utah is United States Forest Service land.

Basically, two-thirds of Utah is fair game for free camping. Now, that doesn’t appeal to everyone, and luckily Campspot has a few great options for established campgrounds near Zion National Park. That said, for free camping enthusiasts, Utah is effectively paradise. Fun fact: the only state with more land managed by the federal government is Nevada, with a whopping 81% of its land under the federal government’s jurisdiction.

You’ll Need Some Level of Self-Sufficiency

In the summer and winter, you do need to be a bit self-sufficient. Now, this is the third-most-popular national park in the country, with millions of visitors. If you run into some serious trouble, there’s probably someone nearby who can help. Winter campers will have fewer options for staff and amenities, so extra caution will be required. Still, cover all the basics, and you’re gonna be fine 9 times out of 10.

Tips on Entering Zion National Park

Avoid the Springdale Entrance

The south entrance near Springdale, Utah, is easily the most popular (read: congested) in the park. Because of Zion’s structure, not all entrances lead to all parts of the park. The south entrance leads quickly to the most popular spots. The east entrance, while not without visitors, is much less trafficked than the south.

There are also northern and western entrances. The western entrance goes to the Kolob Canyon section of the park. The only thing there is that Kolob Canyon, while beautiful, doesn’t connect to the rest of the park. Think of it as the north unit of Zion. The western entrance at Kolob Terrace Road is also its own section, mainly going to backcountry hikes in the western section of Zion’s southern unit.

Utilize the Shuttle

Don’t want to fight strangers for parking or idle your car for what feels like forever in the July heat? Luckily, there’s a shuttle that leaves from Springdale and takes you right into the park. You can take a shuttle from Springdale or from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, but both are free. The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to private vehicles from March to November, but the shuttle can run through that section of the park.

Avoid the Most Popular Spots if Possible

The eastern section of Zion and Kolob Canyon are incredible spots that wouldn’t be overshadowed in almost any other park. They just happen to be located in Zion, so tough luck. Seriously, if this isn’t your first time in Zion, see some of the other sights and skip the crowds—you already know how bad they can be. Of course, if it’s your first time (or you’re visiting in the off-season), go for the checklist experiences first.

How to Camp in Zion National Park

If you can get a spot, you’re lucky. Seriously, it’s tough during normal circumstances, but with the South Campground closed indefinitely for a rehabilitation project, it just got harder.

If you can plan well in advance, you can try for a spot at one of the 176 sites in the Watchman Campground as they open six months in advance. If you have the ability to wait, Lava Point Campground opens reservations two weeks ahead of time. Of course, Campspot has you covered with a few nearby recommendations as well!

Best Campspot Campground Near Zion National Park for Tent Campers

Dark Sky RV Campground

Dark Sky RV Campground actually only offers three types of sites, with two of them being for tents. Simultaneously, this campground came in sixth in Best Campgrounds in America at the 2023 Campspot Awards, so how does all that add up? Well, it’s two main factors: quality of amenities and some of the best night sky views available in Utah. Oh, and the sunrises aren’t too bad either!

The campground spans out over 40 acres, meaning you’ve got plenty of space to spread out and enjoy some solitude under the desert sky. Of course, the communal amenities offer plenty of comfort-oriented opportunities to meet fellow campers. Even if you never left your luxury tent spot, you’d have electricity, Wi-Fi, and shade. Within driving distance to all the best spots in Utah though, you’ll probably want to hit the road as the sun rises!

Best Campspot Campgrounds Near Zion National Park for RV Campers

Kanab RV Corral

Kanab RV Corral offers a budget-friendly approach to the RV resort space. Spots and amenities here are simple, but they still cover everything you could want and then some. You’ve got a pool, you’ve got internet access, you’ve got a grass dog park; plenty of fun stuff to enjoy. Of course, you’ve also got well-maintained laundry and shower facilities to take care of all the basics.

Campers wanting to explore the quieter, eastern section of Zion National Park should consider this option as it gives the best proximity to the park’s eastern entrance. Regardless of which entrance you’re heading to, though, it’s an easy drive.

Cross Hollow RV Resort

The spots are affordable, the location is great, you’re under the beautiful desert sky. What’s not to love? Cross Hollow RV Resort is a great way to experience the vast Utah desert, all while staying just connected enough to the modern world to meet all your creature comforts. Should you feel the need to get out of the RV for a night, spread out in any of their spacious cabins with AC, electricity, and even a kitchen.

Best Campspot Campground Near Zion National Park for Lodging

Willow Glen Resort

Heading to Willow Glen Resort just feels like you’ve stepped into a storybook. This isn’t an exaggeration either; no matter the time of year, it just feels magical being here. Winter campers especially will get that feeling. Though you may not have been considering southern Utah as your ideal winter trip destination, there’s a strong case to be made that you should be!

Willow Glen Resort is filled with lodging options that are cozy and feel like grandma’s house, minus the butterscotch candy and potpourri. Even if you aren’t a winter traveler, this is a great summer destination with an outdoor theater, on-site restaurant, and, of course, access to Zion National Park.

Zion is one of the most majestic spots in the United States’ national park system, but that does come with crowds. For those who have never been before, wading through crowds is a worthwhile trade-off. For those returning to see it again, the off-season and the park’s less popular sections offer an off-the-beaten-path experience known only to the truly adventurous.

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