Finding the Best Camping in Zion National Park (Free & Paid)

Are you struggling to find the best camping in Zion National Park on your vacation? Do you find yourself overwhelmed with the seemingly unlimited options at Zion National Park and unsure where to start? Well, then you have come to the right place!

Finding the Best Camping in Zion National Park (Free & Paid)

Zion National Park is one of the most breathtaking and beautiful places in the entire world. Located in the state of Utah, it is an incredibly popular park because of its close proximity to the city of Las Vegas, Nevada. Because of this, it is a little more pricey than other parks and requires reservations well in advance if you plan on staying in the park itself. 

There are plenty of good camping spots scattered around Zion National Park, but knowing which one is the best for you could be a little challenging. We have got you covered with a quick guide to finding the best places for camping around Zion!

Best Camping in Zion National Park

1. Watchman Campground

Watchman Campground is a great place to camp and features some great scenic views. It is open year-round and close to plenty of amenities and shuttles. There are fewer big trees here than at other campsites, so many campgrounds will not have shade and be in the sun. This does, however, provide a better view of the surrounding mountains and the famous Watchman Mountain. 

You can place reservations for Watchman Campground up to six months in advance, and it would be a good idea to do so if you want to secure a site. This campsite is usually extremely busy and is probably best avoided during the peak season. 

2. South Campground

Considered one of the best places to camp in Zion, South Campground has plenty of large campsites that are plenty spacious and offer good shade. It is located near the south entrance and gives you the advantage of staying in the park but close enough to town that you can easily go get anything you may forget. 

South Campground requires a reservation, and you can make it two weeks in advance. This is a great campground if you want to be close to all of the action, but it can also get a little crowded during the busy season.

3. Lava Point Campground

Lava Point Campground is the only free campground inside Zion National Park. It is a primitive campground, with only 6 spots within it. In addition to being a free campground, Lava Point also requires no reservations and functions on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Lava Point Campground is located at a higher altitude than most of the other campgrounds throughout the park, so it is much colder during the fall and winter months but a lot cooler during the summer. It is also much more remote and further away from the village. 

Campgrounds Outside of Zion National Park

4. Hi-Road Basecamp Campground

Just outside the East Gate of Zion lies the private campground of Hi-Road Basecamp Campground. This campground is a great spot if you want to be next to the East rim and get an early start on the East Rim hike or if you arrive late to the park and want to stay overnight before heading through the park.

Hi-Road Basecamp Campground is a private site that offers pull-through locations for trailers, full hookups, and plenty of places to pitch a tent. There is also a small trading post selling some basic supplies you may have forgotten.

5. Zion Crest Campground

Another private campground located on the eastern side of the park, Zion Crest Campground, lies on the outer park boundary and is located in the pines on a plateau above the park. This campground offers bathrooms, showers, and a laundry facility. 

In addition to plenty of trailer and RV spaces, Zion Crest Campground also offers tent sites. As always, scheduling a reservation as early as possible is important to secure a location.

6. Coral Pink Sand Dunes Campground

While it is a bit far from Zion National Park, Coral Pink Sand Dunes Campground is of course, found within Coral Sand Dunes State Park. It is roughly about an hour’s drive from Zion but can be much less crowded but still close enough to enjoy Zion. 

A big benefit of staying in Coral Pink Sand Dunes Campground is the beautiful and unique scenery that it provides. You can book reservations up to four months in advance, and this state park really adds to the overall experience of the area. 

Free Dispersed Camping Outside of Zion

In addition to state and national parks, there is plenty of publicly owned land throughout the state of Utah that offers free dispersed camping. Both BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and Forest Service Land are publicly owned and offer some great options!

There are generally more opportunities for dispersed camping on the east side of Zion National Park than on the southern end, but with a little bit of homework, finding a good spot for dispersed camping can be well worth the effort. Here are a few of our favorites!

7. Kolob Terrace Road BLM Camping

Just after the small settlement of Virgin, Utah, Kolob Terrace Road offers plenty of space to visitors for dispersed camping. About a quarter of a mile down the dirt road, there is a campground with around 6-15 campsites in it. As with most free areas, it is a first-come, first-serve basis. These are primitive campsites, so there are no bathrooms or even fire pits, so you must come prepared!

8. Kolob Reservoir National Forest Camping

If you want a great campsite at a higher and cooler elevation, Kolob Reservoir has plenty of surrounding National Forest to camp on.  There are multiple established campsites around the reservoir, and there are outhouses and dumpsters in select areas around the lake.

While it can sometimes be a little crowded in this area due to its proximity to St. George, Utah, and its residents wanting to escape the heat, it is a great free place to camp and also offers some fishing for any downtime you might have!

9. Kane Dispersed Campsite

Just outside of the eastern entrance of Zion lies Kane Dispersed Campsite, a designated dispersed campsite just off the road. While very basic and nothing fancy, it is a good spot that offers a close place to stay by the park and has some good views.

See also: Best Camping in Florida

There are multiple campsites at this location that can accommodate trailers and RVs as well. Just remember to come prepared with anything you may need, as there are no amenities or nearby services.  

10. Twin Hollows BLM Campground

Right outside of Zion National Park and with easy access, Twin Hollows is another great public land camping area that is found next to the East Fork Virgin River. A primitive campground, Twin Hollows has no amenities, so whatever you bring in, you must bring out, but it is a great spot to get away from the crowds.

A vehicle with a little bit of clearance is recommended for the dirt and gravel road to get here. 

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