Zion National Park announces the move to reservation-only camping

Zion National Park's entrance monument, Washington County, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Zion National Park, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Anyone who has tried to get a camping spot inside Zion National Park on a “wing and a prayer” over the past several years can attest that the proposition is unlikely at best, impossible at worst.

Reservations seem to be the most probable way to find success anymore when it comes to camping in Utah’s national parks, especially during the peak visitation season. Along these lines, Zion National Park officials recently announced that their main two campgrounds – South and Watchman – will open Thursday as reservation-only campgrounds.

South Campground, located a half mile from the park’s south entrance, will open on March 1 but will only be available for use with reservations, which can be made two weeks prior to arrival. Reservations can be made online or by calling 877-444-6777.

South Campground is within walking distance to the Visitor Center and shuttles. There are 117 campsites, including three sites that are wheelchair accessible. Individual campsites are $20 per night, and $50 per night for group sites.

There is potable water and a dump station on site but no electrical or sewer hook-ups. Generators are allowed to run from 8-10 a.m. and 6-8 p.m. The maximum recommended RV height is 12 feet, 6 inches due to overhanging tree limbs. Check-in is anytime after noon and checkout is at 11 a.m. There is a maximum 14-day stay during the reservation season.

Watchman Campground

The Watchman Campground is located approximately a quarter mile from the main south entrance. With 176 regular sites, two wheelchair accessible sites and six group sites, this is one of the most popular camping spots in the park.

Reservations will be a must for this campground also and can be made up to 6 months in advance online or by calling 877-444-6777.

Reservations for most loops in the campground will begin Wednesday, Feb. 28, or the following week; however, the B Loop has been closed for construction and won’t open for reservations until June.

Reservations start at the different loops as follows:

  • A Loop Reservations begin Wednesday, Feb. 28.
  • B Loop Reservations begin Friday, June 2.
  • C Loop Reservations begin Wednesday, Feb. 28.
  • D Loop Reservations begin Wednesday, March 7.
  • E Loop Reservations (group sites) begin Wednesday, March 7.
  • F Loop Reservations (tent only sites, walk-to) begin Wednesday, March 7.

Generators are not permitted in Watchman Campground. There are no full-hookup campsites; a dump station is available for campers.

Shaded/tree sites can only accommodate vehicles with maximum height of 13 feet (3.96m). There are 69 campsites that are for tents only with combined vehicle length less than 19 feet (5.8 m).

There are 18 tent-only, walk-in campsites. These sites are a short walking distance from vehicle parking and are ideal for bicyclists and backpackers. Electric campsites (loops A and B) are $30 per night. Tent-only campsites (loops C, D, and F) are $20 per night.

Lava Point Campground

The small campground is typically open May through September, as weather allows. Situated at 7890 feet above sea level, it is off the Kolob Terrace Road, 25 miles north of the town of Virgin. It takes approximately an hour and a half to drive to the campground from the south entrance of Zion Canyon.

There are six primitive campsites available first-come-first-served, pit toilets and trash cans but no water. Vehicles longer than 19 feet are not permitted on the road to the campground. There is no charge for camping.

For more detailed information on all of Zion National Park’s campgrounds and facilities, click here.

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1 Comment

  • Caveat_Emptor February 27, 2018 at 2:09 pm

    We have to ask why it took so long to implement this simple system?
    Now, if we can only use the same process to reserve daily access to the park, we could avoid much of the frustration on the busiest days when ZNP is running at 100% capacity, and a lot of visitors feel the frustration.

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